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.

Jamie Ober, AIA, LEED AP Named to State AIA Board

The KCBA team is pleased to share that Jamie Ober, AIA, LEED AP has been named to the Board of Directors of AIA Pennsylvania. A designer and project manager at KCBA, Jamie has supported a range of professional and charitable organizations over many years while maintaining a robust architectural portfolio focused on educational, institutional, and governmental projects.

Much of Jamie’s advocacy work has been dedicated to the AIA and furthering the architectural profession which has led to this appointment. A particular thrust of her efforts on the board is elevating Equity Diversity and Inclusion issues; she also serves on both the EDI and Women in Architecture Committees for AIA Philadelphia and EDI Committee at the state level. Jamie is also a member of the AIA PA Strategic Council which helps set the organization’s long-term vision and aims to increase collaboration and partnerships among the eight state chapters.

Beyond her considerable project responsibilities and professional-related activities, Jamie is also involved with several charitable and community groups such as Along the Way, a nonprofit organization that supports single mothers through in-home childcare and Techgirlz, a nonprofit dedicated to introducing girls to opportunities in the STEM fields.

The KCBA team salutes Jamie for her commitment to advancing the architectural profession and our communities!

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/

KCBA Wins Design Award

The KCBA team is honored that the new Science Center at Bucks County Community College has been selected as a recipient of a Silver Award in the annual awards program of the Society of American Registered Architects PA Council. Completed in 2017, the facility serves as the college’s main hub for science education and research and serves as a dynamic platform for student and faculty engagement.

The new Science Center features a diverse mix of labs, prep areas, classrooms, and common spaces to promote student collaboration and facilitate instruction in seven science disciplines. Located at a prominent but previously underutilized campus green, the college desired for the new building to help frame and energize this outdoor activity hub. Other foundational design goals were to seamlessly link with an adjacent academic building, capitalize on scenic views out to Tyler State Park, and complement the aesthetic of Linksz Pavilion, the college’s most recent building across the green.

The jury commented, “The curved façade is pleasantly scaled to the other campus facilities and brilliantly invented to organize and successfully frame the outdoor space. Glass, bricks, stone and metal materials are judiciously applied and refreshingly tempered in the fenestration of an attractive work-a-day building which harmonizes well with its neighbors.”

More information and the full list of winners can be found here: https://www.sarapa.org/design-awards-gallery. To learn more about the project and see more photos, please visit: https://www.kcba-architects.com/project/new-science-building.

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.

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!

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.

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.