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SLAM announces enhanced leadership

From left column to right: Luis Vildostegui – Higher Education Practice Leader, Christopher Ford  – Associate Principal, Amy Christmas – Higher Education National Market Leader, Stephen Martocchio – Associate Principal, Geoffrey Gaunt – Independent Education Practice Leader, Steve Murray – Associate Principal, Marc Clear – Principal and Shareholder.

Glastonbury, CT, March 7, 2023 – Award-winning national design firm The S/L/A/M Collaborative (SLAM), known for its leadership designing quality educational spaces, has announced leadership changes within its education and healthcare practices, including a new appointment, leadership promotions, and retirement. These new updates build upon the firm’s strengths as a multidisciplinary practice committed to creating inclusive, accessible and enriching built environments across the country.

Luis Vildostegui (left) and Amy Christmas (right) are set to lead SLAM’s Higher Education practice into new markets across the United States. 

Higher Education: Luis Vildostegui, Principal & Amy Christmas, National Market Leader
SLAM has appointed Luis Vildostegui as a Principal and Higher Education Practice Leader, signaling an expansion of the firm’s Midwest and Mid-Atlantic presence and adding to the firm’s national expertise around higher education design. Based in the firm’s Philadelphia studio, Vildostegui, AIA, brings over 30 years of experience designing and building educational facilities across the mid-Atlantic and abroad, including schools like Temple University, Rutgers University, Howard University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, and more. 

“Higher education institutions are facing complex challenges, and more than ever, they require a multidisciplinary team to help them navigate these environments. With our deep in-house planning, design, and construction expertise, SLAM is well-positioned to respond to ever-evolving landscapes, and I look forward to building upon the firm’s strength in delivery high-quality solutions for our clients,” says Vildostegui. 

Vildostegui will oversee several of the firm’s key projects, including a new health information center for Northern Illinois University. The 90,000 sq. ft. center will include teaching and learning spaces, creating a dynamic and active environment for services and academic functions. 

Additionally, Amy Mund Christmas is the newly named National Market Leader of the Higher Education practice with SLAM. Serving over 26 years with the firm, Christmas was one of the first accredited learning environment planners in Connecticut and has played a critical role in establishing SLAM’s innovative and future-proof approach to programming student-centered academic environments. Christmas has led visioning exercises, consensus building and programming efforts for some of the firm’s most prominent clients, including the University of Notre Dame, Iowa State University, Providence College, University of Cincinnati, Emory University, and Cornell University. As National Market Leader, Christmas will work across SLAM’s nine studios to apply a results-driven approach to campuses across the United States. 

“My career at SLAM has provided me the privilege to partner with institutions who inspire my creativity to reinvent forward-thinking teaching and learning environments. I look forward to building upon this with my colleagues across the nation and expanding our educational planning and design best practices,” says Amy Christmas, National Market Leader of Higher Education with SLAM

Having recently completed the Georgia State University Convocation Center, Marc Clear has been appointed to Principal and Shareholder with SLAM.

Sports: Marc Clear, Principal 
SLAM has also appointed Marc Clear as Principal and Shareholder. Trained as an architect with robust experience managing a variety of project types, Clear has led the development of stadia, arenas, team facilities, and master plans nationwide. Notably and most recently, Clear led the Georgia State University Convocation Center project, a multi-use 140,000 sq. ft. arena for athletic events, commencements, concerts, and more, following the conversion of the neighboring former Olympic Stadium and MLB ballpark into GSU’s home football stadium. As Principal, Clear will apply his expertise and diligent design efforts to the US collegiate sports facility market. 

“I believe strongly that the approach and details of a well-designed sports facility have the power to move the needle forward for broader community and campus development, and as Principal, I’m excited to continue working across the nation to deliver impactful transformative design,” says Marc Clear, Principal. 

Richard Connell, FAIA (left) announces his retirement after over 40 years at SLAM. Geoffrey Gaunt, AIA (right) will continue as the Independent Education’s practice leader. 

Independent Education
With over 70 completed independent school projects across the country, the Independent Education practice at SLAM has built a leading reputation for its creative, mission-driven solutions. After more than 40 years at the firm, SLAM announces the retirement of Richard Connell, FAIA, Principal and long-standing leader of its Independent Education practice. The Independent Education practice will continue to be led by Geoffrey Gaunt, Associate Principal and National Market Leader of Independent Education with SLAM, who worked alongside Connell over the last 21 years of his career and co-leading the practice together for the last four. 

“It’s been an honor to shape the Independent Education practice at SLAM over the decades, and I look forward to watching this practice continue to thrive under Geoff’s guidance. In all my years of working alongside Geoff, he’s always put himself in the shoes of our clients and their students, which allows him to develop tailored strategies that contribute to the vitality and vibrancy of these spaces,” adds Connell. 

Connell has led over 35 projects throughout his career, consistently valuing the impact of mission-driven design and offering superlative insights into the making of well-planned campuses and facilities that enhanced the student experience. Key clients include: Fay School, Friends Academy, The Hotchkiss School, The Loomis Chaffee School, Kent School, and his alma mater, Avon Old Farms.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Rich for many years, and he is incredibly passionate about our campus, both as an alumnus and architect,” says Jim Detora, Head of School for Avon Old Farms and client of SLAM. “His ability to create innovative, multi-functional spaces that complement our founder’s vision and inspire learning for future generations of Avonians is integral to our mission and master plan. Rich not only embodies our school motto, to aspire and persevere, but he is also the ultimate steward of Mrs. Riddle’s campus.”

SLAM’s design approach, project management, and client service will continue to be hallmarks of the Independent Education sector under Gaunt’s leadership. Gaunt has led the design and construction of some of the firm’s most influential campus facilities, such as: Kent School, Canterbury School, Phillips Exeter Academy, Frederick Gunn School, and Millbrook School. 

“I’m eternally grateful for Rich’s friendship, guidance, and leadership. As we enter a new chapter, we’ll always carry forward Rich’s values of quality and collaboration while leveraging our country-wide, dynamic team to bring forward the most innovative solutions,” says Gaunt

As practice leader, Gaunt will continue to expand the firm’s national portfolio in campus master planning and innovative facility design with projects underway at Avon Old Farms, Friends Academy, Brunswick School, and Millbrook School. 

New Associate Principals
Furthering SLAM’s design leadership, the firm announces three new Associate Principals. Steve Martocchio is a technical expert whose commitment to service delivery has expanded sustainable and accessible design features at schools like the University of Notre Dame, Sacred Heart University, and Johns Hopkins University. Christopher Ford, an architect and technical lead within Connecticut’s Healthcare studio, manages complex healthcare projects for organizations including Trinity Health of New England and Nuvance Health as well as independent education and higher education. And lastly, Steve Murray, who has led the structural engineering design for several collegiate and K-12 public schools, including the new Torrington Middle & High School, Iona University, and Sacred Heart University. Murray has long acted as the structural engineering studio’s technical lead and will continue to deploy leading software capabilities across all of SLAM’s design disciplines as Associate Principal.

About SLAM
The S/L/A/M Collaborative (SLAM) is a national multi-disciplinary design firm offering architecture, planning, interior design, landscape architecture, site planning, structural and civil engineering, pre-construction, with construction services offered throughout the New England region.  Our market focus is on education, healthcare, corporate, justice, and sports sectors. Our infinite drive to unlock and solve complex design problems renders creativity in design to enrich lives. SLAM has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Glastonbury, CT, Iowa City, Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Providence. Learn more about SLAM at www.slamcoll.com.

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