Alec, as he was known to his clients, colleagues and friends, was not only the founder of EwingCole, he pioneered innovative philosophies within the design and construction industry.  His personal and professional influence was expansive.

In the midst of receiving his architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1943, Alec enlisted in the Marine Corps.  Self-described as a “B” student, he credited his Marine Corps training for developing the personal discipline integral to his success.

After working with his brother at his father’s firm, George M. Ewing Co., for 10 years, Alec envisioned creating a new design firm that would thrive beyond his personal leadership and ownership, a firm that would have an ownership transition plan at its inception.  The initial risks and challenges he shouldered to start Alexander Ewing & Associates in 1961 resulted in a successful firm now led by a third generation of owners at EwingCole.

Because he understood the stressful nature of management positions, Alec insisted that a rotation of leadership positions was best for the professional growth of both individuals and the firm.  His association with Stan Cole, the in-house architect for Rohm and Haas, one of the firm’s first clients, became a life-long partnership when Stan joined the firm in 1968.  True to his core belief in transitioning leadership, Alec turned over the role of firm president to Stan in 1972.  Their complementary skills and mutual admiration helped grow the firm to the success it is today.

Alec, a master of time management, was able to sustain regular communications with the many people with whom he cultivated close relationships, building a legacy of long-term clients, some spanning over three decades.  He unselfishly interconnected these relationships, positioning the next generation of firm leaders to continue guiding these clients.  While Alec was proud of EwingCole as one of his greatest achievements, he was prouder to know that the firm would thrive beyond him.

Alec made himself accessible to all employees and he took a personal interest in getting to know them.  He offered simple advice, “Treat people the way you like to be treated by others.”  Many EwingCole employees remember receiving personally handwritten thank you notes from Alec on their employment anniversary date.

His business vision had influence beyond EwingCole.  He was a trusted advisor to many client and corporate leaders.  Alec and Stan advised the Phillies during the planning of Veterans Stadium which built relationships that led to EwingCole’s design of Citizens Bank Park.  Working with key political and business interests, Alec helped to establish the original Meadowlands Sports Complex in 1969.  The Meadowlands’ success created relationships that decades later would connect the firm to design MetLife Stadium for the New York Giants and Jets as well as the New York Giants’ headquarters and practice facility.  In the early years of the firm, Alec had the strategic insight to position the firm with hospital clients and the firm grew healthcare as a core practice working with growing clients including Geisinger Health System and Fox Chase Cancer Center.

Alec always retained a progressive and entrepreneurial mindset.  In the 1970’s, he organized several companies which supported his vision of serving clients with specialized expertise, including Interspace, an interior design firm; Medicon, a healthcare consulting firm; and Synergo, an engineering firm.  His original concept for starting multiple construction management firms, Barclay White; Parametric, a minority owned firm; and Descon Consulting; included developing an integrated design and construction approach, years before this delivery model began to take root in the marketplace.  Many of the professionals who Alec positioned to lead these companies became design and construction leaders in the region and beyond.  Even as he looked ahead to his own retirement, Alec founded U.S. Retirement Communities, which successfully developed Springton Lake Village, an innovative retirement community in Media, PA that Alec and his wife, Nancy, have lived in for the last sixteen years.

Few people have the relationships and influence of Alexander Ewing – he will be missed by many.  For those who have connections to EwingCole, we are all indebted to Alec for having the entrepreneurial spirit to start a firm, and his example continues to inspire us to build upon what he started.

Read more in the Philadelphia Inquirer