KCBA Congratulates Anthony Russo and Stephen Custer

KCBA Architects is delighted to announce that two employees have achieved licensure as registered architects in Pennsylvania.

Anthony Russo has been with KCBA since 2009 and acted as a key team member on many of the firm’s largest and highest-profile projects such as the new Science Center at Bucks County Community College, major renovation/expansion of Pottsgrove High School, and the reconstruction of Altoona Area High School. Anthony has also made many positive contributions to the firm’s operations, particularly related to technology and the research and introduction of new design and documentation tools. Most notably he helped spearhead KCBA’s transition to BIM as our primary documentation software early in his tenure and has trained many team members in its use. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Science in Design (Architecture) from Clemson University and Bachelor of Architecture from Temple University.

Stephen Custer joined KCBA in 2019 bringing a background in the design and development of commercial office and retail projects. He has rapidly acclimated and been making strong contributions to a range of KCBA’s projects in the senior living and institutional realms. Stephen brings a passion for technology and is engaged in advancing the firm’s use of different tools and software. He’s also active in professional advocacy efforts and serves on the Board of Directors of the Society of American Registered Architects PA Council. Stephen holds a Master of Architecture from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Jefferson University.

Michael Kelly, AIA, LEED AP, Principal of KCBA, said, “Congratulations to Anthony and Stephen! I and the rest of the KCBA team join them in celebrating this exciting accomplishment. Both are instrumental members of our firm and we look forward to many more professional achievements during their careers.”

KCBA Opens New Lehigh Valley Office

KCBA Architects is proud to announce the opening of a second office location in Center Valley, PA. Located at 4647 Saucon Creek Road near PSU Lehigh Valley, the Promenade Shops, and I-78, the office is easily accessible to our clients and partners in the Lehigh Valley as well as northeastern and central PA.

Housed in a bright and open studio space, the new office contains a full complement of architects, interior designers, and technical professionals to service projects of wide-ranging scope and complexity. This team will maintain close communication and collaborative practices with staff in KCBA’s Montgomery County office, strengthening the firm’s technical and logistical capabilities.

KCBA Commissioned for New Lower Moreland High School

KCBA has enjoyed a successful long-term partnership with Lower Moreland Township School District in Huntingdon Valley, PA dating from the renovation/expansion of Pine Road Elementary School in 2011. We are delighted to announce that this collaboration will continue as the firm has been retained for the design of the new Lower Moreland High School.

KCBA was hired in 2018 to conduct a district-wide study that evaluated all facets of the district’s facilities, operations, and delivery of educational programming. A number of challenges were identified relative to building conditions, enrollment capacity, and composition of educational spaces. KCBA and the district then conducted a discovery process to evaluate a wide range of options to meet long-term needs.

The option that was ultimately selected, and currently underway in preliminary design, is the construction of a new high school on the campus of the existing high school on Red Lion Road, conversion of the original high school to a grades 5-8 middle school (introduces 5th grade to the middle school level), and conversion of Pine Road Elementary School to a K-4 alignment (adds capacity to the building by removing 5th grade).

The new high school will house 1,000 students in grades 9-12. Initial plans call for a multi-story building containing a full complement of academics, arts, athletics, administration, and student support spaces.

The original middle school – called Murray Avenue School – is located across the street from the high school and houses the stadium and athletic fields. As part of this program, this building will be demolished and the site reconfigured to serve as an athletics complex.

The preliminary schedule calls for the new high school to open for the 2023-2024 school year.

Walt Zapor Presents at PHCA Conference

Walt Zapor, LEED AP BD+C, CSI, CDT, a senior associate and leader of KCBA’s senior living studio, is presenting an educational session at the Pennsylvania Health Care Association’s (PHCA) 2019 Annual Convention and Trade Show. An organization that advocates for quality long-term care for the elderly and disabled, the conference features a wide-ranging educational program with a focus on assisted living, personal care, and skilled nursing programs.


The session is titled, “Opportunities: Dementia Support in a Person-Centered Environment.” A growing body of research and published studies provide evidence that the makeup of the physical environment can have a direct positive or negative impact on individuals living with dementia. The session shares recent findings regarding operational and environmental best practices in dementia settings and then reviews a number of specific examples of how these were physically integrated in new construction and building renovation projects. Specific areas of emphasis include issues of territoriality and privacy, awareness and orientation, balancing enrichment with safety, and the benefits of fostering connections with nature.

Jim Keiffer Attains CPTED Professional Designation

KCBA Architects commends James M. Keiffer, RA, CDT, CPD on his achievement of the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) Professional Designation issued by the National Institute of Crime Prevention.

A Senior Project Manager at KCBA, Jim brings over 20 years of experience in facility analysis and project implementation with a special focus on educational buildings. Through his architectural projects as well as involvement with educational planning and advocacy groups, he has developed expertise with all facets of school building operations including the latest safety/security strategies and protocols.

The CPTED coursework included 64 hours of instruction, a field assessment, and written examinations exploring the three primary tenets of security in the built environment – physical conditions, policy, and behavior.

With the CPTED designation and his background in school facility projects, Jim has been added to the School Safety and Security Provider Registry managed by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. As a member of the registry, he meets the criteria to conduct physical/security and related policy and training assessments to school entities in Pennsylvania.

KCBA Principal Serves on Governor’s School Safety Committee

Michael Kelly, AIA, LEED AP, Principal of KCBA Architects is honored to serve as a member of the School Safety and Security Committee within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Established by Act 44 of 2018, the committee serves to improve education and enhance resources related to security planning for schools throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Kelly serves as the sole architectural representative on the committee and brings extensive knowledge of the latest facility strategies and operational trends in K-12 schools. His background features a wide array of district facilities planning initiatives as well as the design of new and renovated school buildings of all sizes, contexts, and grade levels.

The balance of the committee is made up of accomplished leaders from the education, government, law enforcement, emergency management, academia, and healthcare sectors.

The committee has initially been tasked with developing criteria to be used to assess school safety and security,establishing a registry for vendors who may conduct school safety assessments, issuing a survey to school entities to review school security preparedness, and administering $60 million in funding via grants.

In addition to his work on the committee, Kelly has participated as a presenter and panelist at a number of recent school security forums and conferences including the PA School Safety and Security Exchange sponsored by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association on November 8, 2018.

Altoona Area High School Project Nears Construction

KCBA is pleased to announce that the renovation/reconfiguration project at Altoona Area High School is currently in the contractor mobilization period with construction slated to begin in mid-May. This major multi-year project will reshape the campus to increase student capacity and add state-of-the-art educational spaces to facilitate the school district’s 21st century curriculum.

Planning for this initiative began in late 2015 with a district-wide facilities study completed by KCBA. The study identified a number of issues related to overcapacity buildings, inflexible and outdated educational spaces, and operational and maintenance needs. After an exploration of a series of potential master plan scenarios to address the district’s long-term objectives, the high school project was determined to be the most viable due to its positive impact on students district-wide as well as its introduction of 9th grade into the high school level and resultant increase of student capacity at the K-8 level.

The existing complex consists of two discrete buildings that take up two city blocks and are linked via a series of suspended enclosed pedestrian bridges. The project entails the renovation of one of the buildings and reconstruction of the other on a new land parcel. In addition to more classrooms and student commons areas, a number of innovative spaces are being integrated such as a performance theater; art classrooms; a business center; STEM maker spaces; two commons, one for STEM and the other for arts and business; an outdoor classroom; a work yard; and a rooftop greenhouse. The reconfigured high school will include a total of 440,000 sq. ft. to serve 2,400 students.

The project, which entails multiple construction phases to maintain safe ongoing operations at the building at all times, is scheduled to be completed in September 2021.

The New Chester Charter School for the Arts Opens

Team members from KCBA Architects were proud to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Chester Charter School for the Arts building on August 25, 2017. The 90,000 square foot facility on an 11-acre site establishes a new home for this innovative arts-focused school and represents a major redevelopment initiative in a prominent location in the City of Chester.

The school’s operations are being relocated from their prior home in a converted industrial facility in Aston to the new campus on Highland Avenue. Highly visible from northbound commuters on I-95 and the surrounding neighborhood, the aesthetic of the new building reflects its urban context while establishing a modern and dynamic identity for the school. This is accomplished through a stout three-story massing scheme, creative mix of contemporary metal panel and glass materials, and bold integration of the school’s flagship red color.

The new building will initially house up to 725 students in kindergarten through 12th grade and support the school’s rigorous standards-based, arts-integrated curriculum. Accommodation of the educational and developmental needs of students ranging from ages five to 18 heavily influenced the layout of the building and make-up of spaces. A key aspect of this was establishing adequate age separation while also implementing opportunities for shared experiences. The three-story building is organized via traditional age progressions with the elementary program on the first floor, middle school on the second floor, and high school on the third floor, each with its own independent principal’s suite. Shared program spaces are centrally located on the first and second floors for convenient access to all grades.

In light of the school’s mission and focus, great prominence has been given to performing and visual arts spaces. This is expressed both in the central role of arts spaces in the building’s overall configuration as well as their prevalence in the building’s aesthetic identity. Most significantly, the two bookends of the building house two fully-equipped dance studios, a band room, and a visual arts studio, each of which are highly visible from the exterior via floor-to-ceiling glass walls with a creatively staggered mullion pattern.

Other highlights of the program include a divisible cafeteria with a stage to house musical and dramatic performances; a competition-sized gymnasium; two fully fit-out high school science labs to support instruction in biology, chemistry and physics; and a health sciences center to train high school students to work in the health services industry.

The opening of the school represents the completion of Phase 1 of the project. A number of future phases have been planned to expand the school’s capacity and amenities; the configuration of the core building will enable this work with minimal disturbance to school operations.

KCBA Congratulates Ryan Orr, AIA

KCBA Architects is pleased to announce that Ryan Orr has attained licensure as a registered architect in Pennsylvania. Ryan served as a summer intern with KCBA during his education at Penn State’s School of Architecture and joined the firm full time upon his graduation in 2013.


Throughout his career at KCBA, Ryan has been involved with all aspects of the development of projects and has taken on increasing responsibilities related to design and documentation of major capital initiatives. Notable examples from his resume include the new Chester Charter School for the Arts which is opening in August 2017, the new Bucks County Community College Science Center, the renovation of St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church in Warrington, the new Leithsville Fire Station for Se-Wyo-Co Fire Company, and the currently in design renovation and expansion of Altoona Area High School.


Michael Kelly, AIA, LEED AP, Principal of KCBA, said, “I’m so happy to be able to congratulate Ryan for this wonderful achievement. He’s a creative, talented, and meticulous architect and a tremendous asset to our staff. Just as important, he’s a consistently pleasant and fun presence in our office. I wish him much continued success in his career.”

KCBA Hired to Design New Elementary School

KCBA is proud to announce a commission for a new elementary school for Parkland School District in Lehigh County, PA. While KCBA has worked with many school districts in the Lehigh Valley, this is our first project for the award-winning Parkland School District. Several KCBA employees are connected to the district either as parents of current students or as graduates themselves.

Parkland School District encompasses 72 square miles and serves over 9,200 students. A 2015 district-wide facility study projected that the district will be serving an additional 500 elementary-age students by 2020, and this new school on a currently vacant site in Upper Macungie Township will allow the district to accommodate this growth. This will be the first new school in the district since the construction of Fred. J. Jaindl Elementary School in 2010.

The district’s motto is “Educating for Success, Inspiring Excellence”, and this will drive the design of the building in many ways. In addition to core spaces to accommodate up to 750 students, the building will feature an interactive and highly visible literacy center directly off the main entrance that reflects this program’s prominence in the curriculum, a STEM learning commons at the heart of the school with a designated maker/breaker space, two local literacy centers: one focused on reading for K-2 students and the other focused on media and technology for grades 3-5, and an outdoor learning commons. An efficient site layout will establish safe and segregated vehicular circulation for cars and buses, ample areas for recreation and community activities, and the capability to easily expand in the future. The building will have expansive natural light and a warm, colorful interior suited to the educational and emotional needs of students in their first formal years of schooling.

Currently in the schematic design phase, KCBA is working closely with district leadership to finalize the building program and general organizational concepts. The project has an aggressive schedule with construction on track to begin in February 2018 and building occupancy slated for the 2020-2021 school year.