KCBA Staff Tour New Colonial Middle School

KCBA staff members from both offices met for lunch and to tour the currently under construction new Colonial Middle School in Plymouth Meeting, PA on July 13th. Led by Project Manager Jim Keiffer, the tour served as a forum for team members of all experience levels to observe the work underway and the transformation of the project from a set of drawings to a large-scale new educational facility.

The new 233,000 SF school is being built on the campus of the existing original school. Therefore, a methodical construction phasing is being engaged to assure safe ongoing campus occupancy. The new facility will serve 1500 students in grades 6-8 and house a full complement of educational, administrative, and support spaces including a multi-story innovation commons; a linked competition/auxiliary gym; and a music suite with separate band, orchestra, and choral rooms. Upon completion of the new building, the original facility will be demolished and extensive site work undertaken including construction of multiple new competition athletic fields.

KCBA Exhibiting at Virtual PSBA Conference

KCBA is proud to sponsor and serve as an exhibitor at the PSBA (Pennsylvania School Board Association) School Board Secretaries Conference on January 27, 2021. This professional development event specifically targeted to the role of school board secretaries offers policy and legal updates, networking opportunities, and a review of essential skills.

The KCBA team is excited to participate in the conference’s virtual exhibit hall. Staffed from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, our group will remain available to meet with attendees and offer insights and feedback on public school facility planning and capital project implementation.

More information can be found here: https://www.psba.org/event/school-board-secretaries-conference-3/

Multiple Projects Reach Milestones

Fall 2019 has been a busy and exciting period for KCBA and our community partners. Most notably, several projects designed by our team celebrated important milestones:

September 9: Grand opening of Hatfield Borough Building, a new 11,000 sq. ft. municipal administration headquarters that replaced an outdated building on the same property.

October 16: Grand opening of the new Hampton Inn & Suites in Kutztown, a hotel and event center positioned to serve the students and families of Kutztown University.

October 21: Groundbreaking ceremony for Colonial Middle School in Plymouth Meeting, a new building for 1,500 students containing a number of innovative educational spaces and a full complement of outdoor fields and amenities.

October 26: Grand opening of Horsham Township Municipal Building, a new 13,000 sq. ft. administration building on a public campus that also houses two other KCBA projects – a new police station and an existing community center whose exterior was upgraded.

KCBA extends our congratulations to each of our project partners!

Four New Elementary Schools Under Construction

The KCBA team is excited to currently be partnering with four school districts in eastern Pennsylvania in the development of new elementary schools. As of summer 2019, all four have advanced to the construction phase in different stages of completion. They are the new Lehigh Elementary School for Northampton Area School District, the new Lynnewood Elementary School for the School District of Haverford Township, the new Uwchlan Hills Elementary School for Downingtown Area School District, and the new Veterans Memorial Elementary School for Parkland School District.

The new schools represent projects of wide ranging nature, context, and size – some will establish a new campus while others replace existing buildings, some are in dense residential neighborhoods while others are in rural environments, and the buildings house student populations ranging from 600 to 750 students.

While each school has been designed to support the respective school district’s educational program and operational parameters, they do share a number of commonalities. Each of the school districts desired to integrate spaces suited to modern instructional practices such as flexible classrooms, dedicated spaces for active learning and collaboration, and a focus on early childhood literacy. Each building features sustainable, green elements such as high efficiency mechanical equipment and water bottle filling stations. And each reflects the latest best practices for campus security related to building configuration, access protocols, and communication infrastructure.

The KCBA team has very much enjoyed our association with each of these school districts and we look forward to the continued development of the buildings. Two are on schedule to open for the 2020-2021 school year and the other two the following year.

KCBA Commissioned for New Avon Grove High School

KCBA is excited to announce that the firm has been selected as the architect for Avon Grove School District’s facilities program. This represents a major development in the school district’s multi-year facilities planning process, a community-wide effort that explored a wide range of potential scenarios to meet long-term needs.

Located in southern Chester County Pennsylvania, Avon Grove is a rapidly growing community. While well maintained, the existing secondary school buildings have operational challenges, are incapable of accommodating projected enrollment growth, and are unsuited to the district’s innovative, student-directed academic program. The capital plan that has been chosen for implementation features the construction of a new high school and conversion of the former high school into a middle school.

The first phase of the program is the establishment of the new high school on a beautiful, currently vacant site known as the Sunnyside property. The rolling 153-acre tract will be transformed into a vibrant new hub of activity with a full gamut of indoor and outdoor student and community spaces. The facility will initially house 1750 students in grades 9-12 with the capability to easily expand in the future to accommodate 2200.

The program of the new high school includes a multitude of flexible, collaborative, and project-based spaces which will be interwoven to yield a dynamic platform for learning and development. Key project priorities include the incorporation of advanced security equipment and protocols; a building configuration that invites heavy community use of meeting, arts, and athletic spaces; integration of architectural and cultural features that celebrate the history of the region; utilization of sustainable, energy efficient design strategies and building practices; and resourceful allocation of taxpayer dollars.

Once high school students have relocated to the new building, the current high school will be renovated and converted into a middle school. In addition to integrating advanced, age-appropriate learning environments, building systems and materials will be upgraded and modernized. The project will also enable a grade realignment with 6th grade added to the current 7-8 middle school model, thereby increasing student capacity at the elementary level.

In addition to the opportunity to contribute to a transformational building campaign, the team at KCBA is pleased to renew a long-term, successful professional relationship. Previous collaborations with the school district include the design of Avon Grove Intermediate School (currently housing grades 3-6), the design of the district kindergarten center which is linked to Penn London Elementary School, and the 2007 feasibility study that led to the purchase of the Sunnyside Property.

Hopewell Elementary School Receives LEED Gold Certification

KCBA Architects congratulates Southern Lehigh School District on the announcement that the new Hopewell Elementary School has been granted LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council. Opened for the 2016-2017 school year, the new 58,500 sq. ft. facility houses 500 students in grades K-3.

As the project architect, KCBA worked closely with all members of the project team to achieve the school district’s educational and operational goals while also delivering a highly efficient and sustainable new campus. In addition to school district leadership, key contributors to this effort included D’Huy Engineering, the resident project engineer; Snyder Hoffman Associates, the mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineer; Barry Isett & Associates, the civil engineer; and The Stone House Group, sustainability consultant.

The building features a number of high performance strategies that contributed to the LEED certification and also offer educational opportunities for students. These include a ground-mounted solar array to supplement the electric supply, a geothermal mechanical system, a high albedo roof system to reduce the heat island effect, LED lighting with occupancy sensors in learning spaces, and low flow plumbing fixtures. Best practices were also implemented during the construction process as over 80% of construction waste was recycled and diverted from landfills.

KCBA Principal Testifies Before State Senate Committee

On May 4, 2017, KCBA Architects Principal Michael Kelly joined a number of other Pennsylvania public school district officials and consultants in testifying at a public hearing at the East Penn School District Administration building in Emmaus. Held by the PA Public School Building Construction and Reconstruction Advisory Committee, the hearing is one in a series related to the state’s reimbursement program for school districts for costs associated with school facility renovation and construction. The program, known as PlanCon, is currently suspended while the committee gathers information in order to make recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly related to state support of school construction.

Drawn from many years of experience in the analysis, planning, and design of Pennsylvania public school buildings, Kelly’s testimony demonstrated the urgent need for the state government to continue allocating resources for school construction. During his remarks, he provided statistics on the age and condition of Pennsylvania’s public school building inventory, offered specific examples of inadequate security equipment/protocols and educational conditions in current school buildings, contrasted former eras of education against modern instructional practices and the facility qualities necessary to support them, and discussed the challenges and insufficiencies associated with a potential state-wide prototype school building solution.

The current PlanCon moratorium is set to expire on June 30, 2017.

KCBA Participating in “Chair-ity” Fundraiser

KCBA Architects is proud to participate in the “Chair-ity” Art Auction on April 26, 2017 in Bethlehem, PA. Hosted and sponsored by Corporate Environments, A One Point Company, the auction benefits Valley Youth House, a provider of services to homeless and vulnerable children throughout Pennsylvania.

Auction lots consist of chairs that have been transformed into art pieces by a number of architectural and design firms from eastern Pennsylvania. All firms began with the iconic Herman Miller Eames molded plastic chair and were encouraged to creatively reimagine the piece with no guidelines or restrictions.

Two teams of KCBA staff members were formed and participated in the planning, design, materials procurement, and construction processes over several weeks ahead of the auction. Two divergent but equally ambitious approaches were conceived and pursued.

“Team Bench” deconstructed and reconfigured the chair to create an “Eames Bench”. Vertically sawed in half, the two chair segments became the bench bookends and were linked via three walnut wood slabs and rope backing. The concept explores the juxtaposition between natural, hand-crafted materials and the original chair’s mechanized, industrial chrome and plastic composition.

“Team Swing” explored a more playful approach reflective of the Valley Youth House’s focus on children. The original Eames chair is based on the principle of adaptability wherein its applications include offices, institutions, schools, and homes. By converting the original chair into a suspended swing, KCBA’s team has now expanded this list to include indoor play places. This was achieved by removing the legs, imbedding the chair in a circular metal frame, and integrating a rope system by which the swing is affixed to the ceiling.

Members from both KCBA teams will attend the auction on April 26th.

KCBA Hired for Municipal Campus Master Plan

KCBA Architects is proud to announce a commission for a municipal campus master plan for Plymouth Township in Montgomery County, PA. This initiative adds to KCBA’s growing portfolio of over 50 municipal and community buildings – including four active projects –  encompassing administration, police, library, emergency response, public works, and parks and recreation facilities.

Notably, KCBA was the architect for the most recent major project on the Plymouth Township campus – a 1997 expansion for the police department – and the firm is excited for the opportunity to return and build upon this success. The 23.5 acre campus currently houses a number of township facilities including an administration and police building, public works garage, several auxiliary garages, a K-9 kennel, and two salt domes. The scope of the effort includes a review of existing building and site conditions, programming analysis with township administration and departmental staff to identify current deficiencies and long-term operational needs, and development of a master plan strategy for the campus.

A number of general objectives have been identified by the township and will be investigated in a range of potential renovation and new construction scenarios. These include enhanced overall campus cohesion and circulation; improved functionality of each building and individual department; incorporation of modern standards for security, technology, and energy efficiency; and development of the campus’s role as a center for public engagement.

Currently underway, this project is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2017 with a public presentation of the master plan.

KCBA Team Members Participate in Multiple Professional Events

KCBA team members are excited to share their expertise at a number of professional events this month.

Michael Kelly, AIA, LEED AP, KCBA principal, is participating as a speaker at the AEC Education Summit and Expo sponsored by AIA Pennsylvania. Taking place in Harrisburg, the expo will draw stakeholders from all facets of public education including educators, administrators, legislators, business professionals, and architects. A series of presentations and panel discussions will cover national trends in school design and recent developments associated with school construction funding in Pennsylvania. Mike is serving as a panelist on the session titled, “State of School Construction and Funding: PlanCon Update”.

Also on Mike’s calendar is the 2016 LearningSCAPES Conference. Taking place in Philadelphia, this event is sponsored by the Association for Learning Environments and will draw an international group of educators and school designers to explore the future of learning environments. Along with Danielle Small, Library Media Specialist at Pottsgrove High School, Mike will be presenting a session titled, “The New K-12 Library: From Resource Repository to Creation Center.” The one hour program will explore the changing role of libraries in the modern K-12 curriculum, the evolving needs and expectations of students, and different facility strategies to accommodate those changes.

Walter Zapor, LEED AP BD+C, CSI, CDT is presenting a session titled “Facility Renovations 101” at the 2016 Pennsylvania Healthcare Association (PHCA) Annual Convention in Lancaster. A senior associate and head of the senior living studio at KCBA, the one hour program will provide an introduction to the process of renovating a senior living facility from initial planning through the completion of construction. Covered aspects include the composition of the project team, design process and collaboration, resident outreach and engagement, navigating regulatory bodies, and construction phasing including strategies to preserve a safe and suitable living environment.