Allison Ewing, FAIA | Christopher Hays, AIA, LEED AP

HEDS Architects is a woman-owned firm in Charlottesville, Virginia. Founded in 2004, it has been at the forefront of the green design movement, with 30 years of experience in the field. Many of the group’s projects have been recognized for championing sustainable design and ecological principles. Among them: The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College and The Herman Miller “Greenhouse” Factory and Offices (both with William McDonough, FAIA) and the Woolen Mills House.

Allison Ewing grew up in a 1770s home in Vermont; its hand-hewn wood structure, she says, inspired a “love of simple forms, detail, light and craftsmanship.” She later spent two years in Paris, exposed to architectural treasures that influenced her commitment to creating spaces that are meaningful and authentic. Christopher Hays’ childhood was spent painting and drawing while also developing prowess in math and geometry. “I learned how Leonardo da Vinci mastered all of these as well as architecture,” he reflects. “I thought the profession sounded like the perfect way to apply my interests.”

Both Ewing and Hays studied at the Yale School of Architecture. They attribute relationships with Renzo Piano, Cesar Pelli and William McDonough with informing their shared design approach which, says Ewing, brings “people and nature together through sustainable living, indoors and out.”

Focusing on sustainability, the partners seek “creative approaches to engaging buildings and people with the fabric of place,” says Hays, who explains that they are powerfully drawn to projects “where our attention is claimed by the site—one rich in cues that become the inspiration for a design.”

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