Architecture Firm Transitions to Women-Led Business

Rachel Adams and Olivia Graf Doyle Lead A4E Into the Future 


(From L-R) Gateway Community Charter K-12 School, Sacramento, CA (Rendering: A4E); Managing Principal Rachel Adams, AIA, LEED AP, and Design Principal Olivia Graf Doyle (Photo: Paula Neves); Rio Del Sol STEAM Academy, Oxnard, CA (Photo: Olivia Graf Doyle). Click here for high-resolution images.

LOS ANGELES: Since 2002, Architecture for Education (A4E) has designed more than 100 transformational schools throughout the western United States, based on the vision of creating learning environments that inspire curiosity, imagination, and wonder. Now, the Los Angeles‐area architecture, interiors, master planning, and environmental graphics studio is entering a new phase, emerging as a women‐led business headed by Managing Principal Rachel Adams, AIA, LEED AP, and Design Principal Olivia Graf Doyle.

“For an industry that counts women architects as only around 15 percent of practitioners, A4E is contributing to a more equitable profession,” says Adams.  Leading the firm into the future, Adams and Graf Doyle will expand A4E’s existing deep bench of education design for the full range of facilities, from pre-K through university and lifelong learning.

This transition comes as founder Gaylaird Christopher, FAIA, steps down as President.  As newly named Founding Principal, Christopher continues his 40-year career by remaining on the A4E Board of Directors.  “Gaylaird’s valued mentorship has been instrumental in my growth as an architect and manager,” says Adams, who has worked with Christopher for 18 years, first at Perkins+Will, and then joining him early in A4E’s history.  Known for his ability to bring challenging projects to fruition, Christopher is an expert at facilitating communities and school districts to attain funding and stake-holder approvals.

Adams and Graf Doyle build on A4E’s reputation as a collaborative partner in creating advanced learning spaces.  “We combine blue-sky thinking with evidence-based design and creative solutions for an outcome that enriches students, families, teachers, staff, and community,” says Graf Doyle.  “Focusing 100 percent on architecture for education ensures that A4E’s design solutions are advanced and impeccably executed,” adds Adams.

Placing significant emphasis on students’ various needs and learning styles, A4E’s approach to design is holistic in its vision and execution.  The 15-person firm is involved in an immersive collaborative process with all stakeholders—from students to school district supervisors—while designing major projects encompassing master planning and 21st-century classroom design and modernization, new campus development, and cutting-edge STEAM and makerspace environments.  Asserting that school buildings themselves be part of the learning experience, A4E designs didactic structures, interiors, and landscapes that cultivate good global citizens.

“Our clients have progressive visions for the future of education,” stresses Graf Doyle.  “A4E champions those visions by embedding culture, pedagogy, and stewardship into the architecture and spaces we design.”