Architects are not decorators they are professionals that solve challenging spatial problems. This means that sometime A4 Architecture goes above and beyond our normal task of designing buildings.  Since 2007, our firm has had the honor and pleasure of designing all of the Hope Funds Award of Excellence Galas and associated events. Their events have been in all over the country from California resorts to the Metropolitan Museum of New York, but they keep returning to beautiful Newport where the Gilded Age architectural settings are unmatched. For the past 17 years, A4 Architecture has worked in many of the famous mansions to help Hope Funds bring people together to promote cancer research.

The Elms Dining For Hope Funds 2024 Gala

The Elms Design Plan

This year’s Award of Excellence Gala was held at the Elms, completed in 1901 for Mr. and Mrs. Edward Berwind and designed by noted Philadelphia architect Horrace Trumbauer. When the Hope Funds brings people together it after does go in a series of interconnected event.  To illustrate the longstanding connection between these buildings and the summer residents of Newport, by chance, one of this year’s Gala junior co-chairs was the great, great, great grandniece of the Berwinds, and has “Berwind” as her middle name.

Newport Casino HFCR Luncheon

Newport Casino Design Plan

This year A4 Architecture had also the privilege and responsibility to plan the Hope Funds Fellows Dinner at a private club facility and the annual “Women in Science Luncheon” held on the horseshoe Piazza of the Newport Casino.  The Newport Casino is famous for being America’s first lawn tennis club and housing the International Tennis Hall of Fame. It was built in 1879 by popular Newport architecture firm McKim, Mead & White. The Shingle styled building was originally built to serve as a social club to the elites of the Gilded Age, but soon became known for its reputation in the tennis community and it became a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Past events have been held at the Elms, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Rancho Valencia in San Diego, the Athenaeum Boston and other extraordinary venues.  A4 Architecture has at the privilege to not only plan the events for more than a decade, but Ross Cann has attended the events as a contributor and supporter to the Hope Funds. The organization has funded over ninety post-doctoral researchers who have published papers in the most prestigious journals, become faculty members at some of the top universities around the world including Yale and Cambridge.  Since the creation only 17 years ago the Hope Funds fellowships have been among the most prestigious and selective in the field of oncology and we at A4 Architecture would like to believe that the excellence of the events we have helped plan are one reasons for the extraordinary rise in the organization’s reputation and influence.

New York Yacht Club Hope Funds Fellows Dinner

New York Yacht Club Design Plans

During the Gala Weekend the Hope Funds hosts the Fellows dinner on Friday evening, a scientific meeting Saturday morning and afternoon, where the post-doctoral fellows present their work to leading oncologists, the Women in Science Luncheon, the Gala Awards celebration Saturday evening and the a meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board on Sunday before everyone travels back to their home cities and countries. It is a logistic and design challenge equivalent to the launching of a rocket to reach the moon.

Design is the process of crafting a space or object to fulfill a specific function. In the case of the work that A4 Architecture has done for the Hope Funds for Cancer Research, that goal was to create elegant setting for scientists, doctors and philanthropists to come together in beautiful and elegant setting to help solve one of the great challenges of our time: detecting, treating and curing hard to treat and understudied cancers. We would like to think that we have achieved success on this front so subtlety and elegantly that our work is almost invisible but very much appreciated by all the attendees at the various events and spaces that we have transformed from a design perspective.

Ross Sinclair Cann, AIA, LEED AP, is an author, historian, educator and practicing architect at A4 Architecture and lives and works in Newport, Rhode Island. He is the Founding and Managing Principal of A4 Architecture, which undertakes high quality design work for residential, commercial, hospitality and institutional projects in the New England region.