Announcing the promotion of Shawn Evans to Principal

Atkin Olshin Schade Architects is pleased to announce the promotion of Shawn Evans, AIA to Principal.

Shawn manages our Santa Fe office, which he helped establish in 2005. As Director of Preservation and Cultural projects, Shawn has led many of our projects at historic sites and institutions including Cherokee Castle in Colorado, Ohkay Owingeh in New Mexico, Fort Apache in Arizona, as well as Eastern State Penitentiary and the Penn Museum in Pennsylvania. Shawn has also managed many of our higher education projects, including the recently completed campus master plan for Colorado College and the Corbett Center Student Union renovation at New Mexico State University. He is the recipient of the prestigious James Marston Fitch Mid-Career Grant from the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation, and is currently a board member of the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance. Shawn joined the firm in 1995, was named an Associate in 2003, and was named Associate Principal in 2015.

Much of his work is focused on the past, but he is most interested in how heritage enables the future. Read on to learn more about Shawn, his professional journey, and his thoughts on the firm.

What made you want to become an architect?
On my ninth birthday, my family moved from a quaint Victorian town outside of Cleveland to the bustling metropolis of Dallas, where skyscrapers were growing like weeds. The dramatic change – from an “old-time” town to what was obviously the future – set me on my path. Drawing and painting skyscrapers became an obsession. My birthday gift was the future. During my junior year at Texas A&M, I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Tuscany through which I found my love for the past. But it wasn’t just old things that grabbed my attention, it was the idea that the past and the future didn’t need to be separate places. I was drawn to the drama of Carlo Scarpa, particularly his work at the Castelvecchio in Verona, a place that was both deeply historic and courageously modern.

What classes in school did you enjoy the most?
In high school, it was calculus. It came naturally. Of course, it’s all long forgotten – I’d love to learn it again! In college, it was the philosophy of art. Studying architecture left few electives and although A&M was a huge university, there was remarkably little choice in the liberal arts. John McDermott’s class seemed an underground secret and it opened me up like nothing I’ve ever experienced. When I showed up at Penn for graduate school, I was delighted to see a new course being offered titled, “Metamorphosis: Transformations in Architecture.” This class in particular brought my life story together and its professor, Tony Atkin, the founder of this firm, became someone of profound influence.

Describe the top of your desk.
I won’t lie. It’s a mess. It can be overwhelming but it is also inspiring. From RFPs under consideration to contractor’s applications for payment, it is a display of all the little things that take up our days (and nights). But at least once a day, I try to take it all in and find inspiration in the amazing variety of work that we enjoy. We’re writing a proposal for a large new community center for the Jicarilla Apache, starting a strategic plan for Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, designing a major expansion of Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm, assisting with contractor selection for a religious education building at
Isleta Pueblo
, processing closeout documents for the nearly completed Corbett Center Student Union at NMSU, and helping curators from a major design museum tell the story of our decade-long restoration efforts at Ohkay Owingeh. The drawings, photos, and papers on my desk give evidence of all these efforts.

What kinds of work interest you the most?
Certainly not the skyscrapers I once dreamed of! Isn’t it funny that life has instead led me to adobe preservation? It’s the variety of our practice that keeps my blood pumping. Our work with Native American communities has profoundly impacted my understanding of an architect’s role in society. In these projects, our role is not to give form to a design birthed in our own brains, but rather to give voice and vision to unique communities who may understand time and space in very different ways. We’re now taking lessons about community engagement from these “impact design” projects and applying them to all planning efforts. We recently finished the campus master plan for Colorado College and worked hard to develop tools for its faculty and students to assist us in envisioning the future. But of course, it’s also wonderful to have the opportunity to focus on designing a great contemporary building, something we’re really enjoying with the visitor center at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden.

You’re one of our few staff who have spent significant time in both of our offices. How do these practices compare?
This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Philadelphia and Santa Fe are obviously very different places, but they have quite a bit in common. Each of these cities gives too much priority to the tourist gaze and too little to the needs of their own citizens. Santa Fe will always be defined by adobe and Philadelphia by brick, but they both need to better embrace the future.

I recently had the opportunity to give a 140-second talk at the Santa Fe Art Institute (Read more here). It was my first pass at what might become a manifesto for Santa Fe’s civic identity. It’s a question of balance, something each of our offices seeks out in the various projects we undertake. Be it restoration, infill construction, or new buildings, our work is shaped by context as well as the ambitions of our clients. Practicing from both cities has really enabled me to see these places anew. We’ve had a number of staff make visits from Philadelphia and it always results in great insights into what we’re doing. I’d like to make this more reciprocal.

While the larger questions that we wrestle with are similar, the cultures of the two offices are distinct. The Philadelphia office is located downtown and almost all of the staff walk or bike to work. This physical activity integrates the office more into the smaller geographic fabric and civic culture. The Santa Fe office is located a few miles from the plaza and nearly all the staff drive, some from Albuquerque. Several of our New Mexico staff are tribal members; through their families as well as our tribal clients, we are frequently invited to the ancient ceremonies throughout the region. There is also a deeper connection here to the outdoors. It’s been too long since our last office camping trip.

What are your five-year goals for the firm?
AOS will continue to assist communities in the development of self-determined revitalization approaches. I’d be honored to have the opportunity to continue our success in Pueblo communities and I’m very interested in expanding this planning into non-native traditional communities. We will also continue designing new and renovated facilities for higher education throughout the southwest and I’m very interested in growing the ecclesiastical work of the firm again. We’re going to continue to be leaders in the profession through publications and conferences, and I’m committed to ensuring that a broader spectrum of voices from the firm have the opportunities to be heard. I hope that we can collectively realize one of Tony’s near-term goals – there are many dream projects that he and I discussed – but I’m just as committed to completing projects he never envisioned. The most fruitful architectural practice is one that rewards careful planning but also remains nimble enough to make a beautiful and meaningful project from an unforeseen opportunity. I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

Congratulations to our Newly Elected Board Member

Paul_Avazier_2AIA Philadelphia recently announced that Paul Avazier, AIA, LEED AP, was elected to the 2016-2017 AIA Board of Directors. Paul will join other Board members in advocating on behalf of the architecture community and profession. Paul began his involvement with the Philadelphia AIA in 2007 as a member of the Associate Committee where he chaired events including Stories from an Architect and Construction Tours. During his time as Associate Director, Paul worked to implement the Mentoring Program that brings together individuals of varying experience levels to meet and discuss the profession. Through his involvement, Paul has worked with many individuals to advance their careers. His dedication to shaping future professionals extends to our office, where Paul has helped guide new graduates and employees with project management, design documentation and detailing, and ARE preparation.

“Our profession is ever evolving, and I have an interest in helping to continue and expand the great programs that the Associate Committee and Young Architects Forum are involved with, while working with the chapter to develop ways to support professional advancement for those transitioning from licensure candidates into managerial positions.” -Paul Avazier, AIA, LEED AP

Historic Preservation and Resiliency: Traditional Pueblo Villages


“Replastering a Paguate House,” 1925. Edward S. Curtis, Photographer. Northwestern University Library, Edward S. Curtis’s “The North American Indian,” 2003.


On Tuesday, October 27 at 1:30 pm Shawn Evans, AIA, Associate Principal, will present “Historic Preservation and Resiliency: Traditional Pueblo Villages” to students of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Shawn’s presentation will summarize the results of his two-year collaborative study of the physical conditions and place-based preservation approaches of pueblos. The study was supported by a Fitch Foundation fellowship. The talk will also highlight Atkin Olshin Schade Architects’ decade-long rehabilitation project at Ohkay Owingeh. The study and our ongoing projects with the Pueblos are reshaping federal preservation and housing policy, building the awareness of the need for greater self-determination by the tribes.

The talk is open to the public. More information can be found here:  Shawn recently presented this work to the National Tribal Historic Preservation Conference ( and the National Council for Preservation Education (

“I am excited to present some of our current work at the Penn Museum, where much of the first fifteen years of my career at AOS was spent. During the planning and design of the Mainwaring Wing, Museum HSR, and Master Plan projects, I became intimately familiar with the institution and its amazing collections and programs. The Penn Museum has long been at the forefront of indigenous rights vis-a-vis museum collections – to be able to expand this discussion into indigenous rights in architectural preservation is a real honor.” – Shawn Evans

Staff Updates

We are pleased to announce that Sara Patrick successfully completed the Architectural Registration Exam and is now a licensed architect! Sara has been with our firm for over eight years in the Philadelphia office and has served as Project Architect for many of our significant projects including the Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden and Parking Facility at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Brown Hall at Princeton University, both of which received awards for their design. She is currently working on renovations to Dillon Gymnasium at Princeton University and a Master Plan for Old City.

We have two recent additions to our staff in Santa Fe: Evan Geisler joined our firm as a Senior Project Manager following several years working in Asia. With over 14 years of experience, his career began in Los Angeles in a residential design-build practice focused on the restoration of high-end historic homes. For six years, he was principal of his design-build firm in LA continuing in the practice of historic home restoration as well as ground up high-end residential and commercial boutiques. Beginning in 2009 he switched his focus to hospitality and international retail projects. Evan received a Bachelor of Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture and a Master of Science in Real Estate from the University of Hong Kong. He is currently working on the design of renovations and additions to Los Poblanos, an historic inn and organic farm near Albuquerque, NM as well as a 41 home development project for Santo Domingo Pueblo, NM. His most recently completed project, SMU Student Center in Taos, is projected to attain LEED Silver.

Miriam Diddy joined the firm earlier this year with a degree in Environmental Planning and Design from the University of New Mexico. Her prior experience includes work at her mother’s interior design firm, Beverly Diddy Designs. Since joining our firm, Miriam has supported marketing and graphic production and has worked on a preservation plan for Las Vegas NM City Hall and new housing for Santo Domingo Pueblo. She has also worked on GIS mapping for the Pueblo de Cochiti Plaza Revitalization Plan and Kewa Pueblo Historic Building Inventory. Miriam is a member of the Navajo Nation with additional family roots in the Hopi Tribe.

Mason Lehman joined the Philadelphia office at the beginning of the summer. He has experience in all phases of design including hand sketching, schematic digital models, and construction documents. Mason is currently working on renovations to the Music Department at the University of Delaware as well as renovations to the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Mason graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor’s of Architecture and a Bachelor’s of Environmental Design in Architecture.

Lavender Farming in Vogue : Los Poblanos


U.S. Vogue recently published a wonderful feature on Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm, just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. We are currently working on an exciting addition to the site which allows for a new restaurant & bar, doubling the size of their amazingly curated Farm Shop along with the addition of 26 new guestrooms and suites. Working with OLIN, the project plans to weave suites into the beautiful lavender fields adding to the unique experiences for guests on site.


The buildings and landscapes are being designed in a manner that is respectful of the historic structures by famed Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem and gardens by Rose Greely. Guided by best practices in agritourism, organic farming, historic preservation, and sustainable design, Los Poblanos will continue to be a model for heritage development.

DeanHoughton.Farmshop.exteriors Salvador_TFS2_HR


See the Jason Schmidt’s beautiful short film on Los Poblanos here.

Temple Adath Israel Receives CODA Merit Award


We are pleased to announce that Paul Housberg and his glass art installation at Temple Adath Israel received a CODA Merit Award. The CODA Awards recognize the best work demonstrating successful integration of commissioned art into interior, architectural, and public spaces. We collaborated with Paul during the design of renovations to the sanctuary. Paul was commissioned to create two backlit art glass screens on either side of the new Ark. These screens were designed to infuse the space with new energy, while referencing Jewish symbolism and the synagogue’s history.

The renovated space opened last fall, on the first day of Rosh Hashanah 5775, with a dedication by Rabbi Yanoff in which he spoke about the challenges and opportunities that come with any dramatic change, and how every aspect of the renovation had been considered according to Jewish symbolism. In his sermon, Rabbi Yanoff eloquently summarized the result of our collaboration: “The blue glass, like the blue fringe on a tallit [a Jewish prayer shawl], is intended to reflect both the water… and the heavens. That’s why the blues fade away, intended to draw our eyes upward, heavenward.”

To read more about the awards and Paul’s installation please click here.

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Tony Atkin, 1950-2015

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We mourn the loss of Tony Atkin, FAIA, who founded our firm Atkin Olshin Schade Architects in 1979. Tony succumbed to thyroid cancer on May 21st after a nearly two-year battle. During this time he continued to work, teach, and support those around him. His death came shortly after that of his husband Tom Pederson earlier this year.

Tony was an inspiration for all of us. A singular designer, he guided many of our projects. His creative vision and passion for architecture and planning elevated the work of our offices in Philadelphia and Santa Fe. Tony’s designs made transformative improvements to the communities with whom we worked. Tony was a natural teacher, in our practice, at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, where he was on the faculty of the Graduate School of Design, and at the University of New Mexico. He authored and edited three books, including Structure and Meaning in Human Settlements (2005), for which he contributed a chapter on the evolution of settlement at the Zuni Pueblo. He recently supported the completion of the master plan for Colorado College and began designs for Santo Domingo Pueblo, Los Poblanos, and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden—wonderful projects that will be realized by our Santa Fe office. We will miss Tony. His vision and humanity will inform our practice as it continues to grow and thrive.

– Sam Olshin and Michael Schade