Firm News & Insights | October 2020

Pennsylvania Architecture Firm Led Initiatives Honored with Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence

More than 60 applicants from across the commonwealth nominated projects on energy efficiency, emissions reduction, watershed restoration and protection, environmental education opportunities, and smart growth planning and design.

“These awards highlight the ingenuity and commitment Pennsylvanians have for protecting and improving our environment,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “The unique projects show how communities, businesses, and educational organizations can come together to meet the diverse needs of our environment.”

The Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence is open to any Pennsylvania business, farm, government agency, educational institution, non-profit organization and individual that has created, or participated in, the development of a project that promotes environmental stewardship and economic development in Pennsylvania.

Congratulations to the following architecture firms and members who led initiatives honored with 2020 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence!

Etna EcoDistrict
Architect – planning, education, and design | evolveEA

The Etna EcoDistrict is a grassroots sustainable community development initiative aimed at defining and actualizing a future where everyone in Etna has an opportunity to thrive and live healthy and fulfilling lives. During the team building phase, volunteers gathered to learn about EcoDistricts, strategize around expanding the movement to the larger community in an inclusive and equitable way, and unite with Millvale and Sharpsburg to form the Triboro EcoDistrict collaboration. Robert Tuñón, AIA, Etna Community Organization Board Member and Associate with Rothschild Doyno Collaborative, helped spearhead the project.

In related honors, evolveEA consulted with the city of Allentown on their comprehensive plan, Allentown Vision 2030. The plan has been recognized with a 2020 Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence for Innovative Planning & Sound Land Use Practices.

Forest Hills Net Zero Energy Municipal Building
Architect | Pfaffmann + Associates

For the Forest Hills Net Zero Energy Municipal Building, Pfaffmann + Associates worked with the Borough of Forest Hills to develop a facility with net-zero energy usage, meaning that the clean, solar photovoltaic energy produced on-site is sufficient to power the building while producing zero emissions.

PHFA Passive House & LEED Platinum Tower Expansion and Historical Renovation
Architect | Murray Associates Architects

Continued agency growth has fueled a major expansion for additional staff. A new 8-story tower and renovated 8,921-square-foot historic Hickok Mansion have been integrated into PHFA’s original LEED Gold Certified building. As the agency provides tax credits to developers for Passive House affordable housing projects, the expansion goal was to incorporate these standards into its expanded building as well. Passive House design is focused on achieving the absolute minimum amount of energy use required to heat and/or cool a building (up to 90% less than a standard building of similar size), as measured on Btu per square foot. Unique design elements include: a thermal bridge free design, superior insulated windows, conditioned air ventilation with heat recovery, quality insulated facades and airtight construction. PHFA has designed two Passive House systems (one for the historic and one for tower addition) plus are also seeking LEED Platinum certification for both buildings. To date, this is a one-of-a-kind corporate project on the East Coast.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Living Campus
Architect, The Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) | The Design Alliance Architects
LEED and LBC Consultants, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens | evolveEA
Architect, Exhibit Staging Center | FortyEighty Architecture

Efforts at Phipps to implement high-performance energy-efficient capital expansions have reached a new level of excellence with the construction of three ultra-green buildings on Phipps’ campus: the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) which is also the only building in the world to achieve four of the highest certifications for green construction: Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum, WELL Platinum and SITES Platinum; the Nature Lab at Phipps, and the Exhibit Staging Center (ESC).

Read more from DEP >

Muhlenberg Greene Architects Join Pretzel Project to “Humanize the Built Environment”

Last fall, Suzanne, of Muhlenberg Greene Architects, attended the Mural Stroll and Dean’s Way Dedication, presented by Berks Community Murals’ Mike Miller, a muralist and Wyomissing schools art teacher. During Mr. Miller’s remarks, Dean was quoted to have said, “Public art humanizes the built environment”.

Suzanne returned to her job at the Architectural firm and shared Dean’s statement. Architects are tasked with imagining, creating, and improving the built environment – and Dean’s sentiment impacted the team at the firm. It was agreed that if an opportunity to take part of a public art initiative presented itself, the staff would try to participate. More than a year later, Miller invited Cody to take part in a larger-scale public art project, The Berks Pretzel Collection, from Reutlingen to Reading.

Suzanne said, “Our Firm is celebrating 100 years of business in the county this year. We believe that our success is attributed to our deep ties and long-standing relationships in our community. It is our mission to give back to the region who has helped us reach this very special milestone. Helping to enhance the built environment is something important to us, it’s something we think about every day. The opportunity to get creative and take part was a chance we couldn’t pass up.”

The Berks Pretzel Collection public art project originated through Reading’s participation in a Street Art Festival in Reutlingen, Germany (Reading’s sister city). The project consists of a large collection of small paintings, all inspired by a pretzel. The first phase of the project’s installation is slated for this weekend and will be permanently displayed in downtown Reading at 645 Cherry Street.

Preservation Pennsylvania Celebrates Historic Preservation Achievements of Members Across the Commonwealth

Earlier this month, Preservation Pennsylvania celebrated the recipients of the 2020 Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Awards, including the contributions of members in firms across Pennsylvania. Members are cited for their contributions for 13 of the 24 awards representing 11 counties, with Northampton and Allegheny counties tied with five awards each. The 2020 honorees include all types of projects led by individuals, nonprofits, municipalities and developers using private funds, grant dollars, and historic tax credits.

Congratulations to the recipients including:  Studio for Spatial Practice, Landmarks SGA, Hemmler-Camayd Architects, Strada Architecture, VITETTA Architects and Engineers, Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel Architects, Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, Artefact, Inc., APA Architects, Warehaus, Benjamin Walbert Architect, and FortyEighty Architecture.

Follow the link below to stream the virtual celebration presentation and download the special edition of the awards newsletter to learn more about the projects.

More from Preservation PA >

WRT Honored with Witte-Sakamoto Family Medal in City and Regional Planning

The prestigious Witte-Sakamoto Family Medal in City and Regional Planning is presented annually by the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design to a firm, team, or professional for an exemplary plan that advances plan making in at least four of the following areas: social equity, environmental quality, design, public health, mobility, housing affordability, and economic development. The inaugural recipient of the Witte-Sakamoto Family Medal was the Regional Plan Association in 2019.

WRT worked closely with city agencies, stakeholders, and thousands of Philadelphians who participated in a range of civic forums to develop the original GreenPlan Philadelphia in 2011. WRT’s client for GreenPlan, the City of Philadelphia, will be honored at the 2020 Weitzman Awards program in December. Follow the link below to learn more about GreenPlan Philadelphia, the first unified vision for Philadelphia’s public parks, recreation spaces, and natural open spaces.

More about GreenPlan Philadelphia >

AIA Names Winners of 2020 Education Facility Design Awards

Among the recipients of the 11 “state-of-the-art designs of schools and learning centers”  honored with a2020 Education Facility Design Awards is Charles Library, located in Philadelphia on Temple University’s campus. The project is the joint venture of the Philadelphia office of Stantec and Snøhetta.

Get the details on the project >

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