Gregg Scott, FAIA, Senior Partner at RLPS Architects will be hosting a private walking tour of Historic Downtown Lancaster. This tour will highlight a diverse mix of commercial and residential buildings reflecting a myriad of architectural styles, all within a few blocks of the city square. Many of the featured buildings are the direct result of the impressive architectural career of Lancaster’s own C. Emlen Urban.  


The following is a pdf file for tour-goers to reference during the tour:  Lancaster Walking Tour – September 2018


The Fulton Theatre: A Standing Ovation

C. Emlen Urban Series – Part 14

Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, the current day Fulton Theatre has enjoyed nine or more incarnations over its 166-year history. By this point in our series, it should come as no surprise that C. Emlen Urban was among the notable architects who left their mark on one of our city’s most recognizable landmarks.  Designed in 1852 by Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan as the Fulton Hall, the popular Italianate style venue offered the traditional fare of the time including musical entertainment, lectures, church fairs, celebrations, balls, exhibitions, graduation exercises, political meetings and county conventions.

Within only 21 years of its debut, Fulton Hall was ready for a make-over, this time at the hands of one of our country’s most accomplished theatre designers, Philadelphia architect Edwin Forrest Durang.  His interiors represented the best of Victorian high design complete with carpet, upholstered seats, gas sconces and chandeliers.  

On April 25, 1904 the Lancaster New Era announced that the Fulton Opera House had retained 41-year-old Lancaster architect Urban to help propel the Opera House into the 20th century.  In true Urban fashion, he graciously accepted the commission and delivered on the promise.  The news release assured readers that the Fulton will be “one of the best arranged and most beautifully decorated amusement places in the State”

Urban’s plans called for the removal of the entire 1873 interior with the exception of the four walls and the main balcony.  The stage was enlarged, the auditorium expanded, box seats added, an upper gallery was introduced, the ceiling raised, fireproofing added, exit stairs improved and the restrooms were expanded.  Other design interventions by Urban included the introduction of smoking rooms and the grand staircase, a larger lobby space, marble walls, ornate plaster molding and new lighting throughout.

Although there have been other updates since that time, the stunning neo-classical interior that we all enjoy today is essentially the gift and talent of Urban.  As anyone who has ever enjoyed a performance at the Fulton Theatre can attest, he deserves a standing ovation! The full LNP article is on  Architect’s Work Earns a Standing Ovation at Fulton Theatre.

All photos by Larry Lefever Photography

RLPS Promotes Four Employees

We are excited to announce the promotions of Dan Godfrey, Jodi Kreider, Carson Parr, and Brent Stebbins to Partner. All of these individuals have worked with RLPS for a number of years and are familiar to many of our clients and business associates so we’ve asked each of them a few questions about their career path and personal inspiration.

Dan Godfrey, Jr., AIA, LEED AP

22 years of Experience / 19 Years at RLPS

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Golf and coaching my daughter’s basketball team.

How did you decide you wanted to be an architect?

I became interested in construction while working with my uncle who is a residential contractor. I began my post high school education at Harrisburg Area Community College with the intent of keeping all doors open. Shortly after being employed by an architectural firm I discovered the evening architectural program at Drexel University. My goals and ambition grew as new opportunities became available in the profession.

What was your first part-time job?

I worked in residential construction at an early age with my uncle. My first official part-time job was at Staples Office supply store.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value” – Albert Einstein

Professional Qualifications:

  • Bachelor in Architecture / Drexel University
  • Associates Degree in Applied Science / Harrisburg Area Community College
  • NCARB Registered architect
  • Member, American Institute of Architects
  • AIA Central Pennsylvania
    • Board Member 2010-2017
    • Past President 2017
  • Architectural and Building Construction Management Advisory Committees, Harrisburg Area Community College
  • Member, United States Green Building Council


Jodi Kreider, LEED AP

27 Years of Experience / 15 Years at RLPS

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My favorite pastimes are either curling up with a good book or heading out for a long walk. I also recently joined the Lancaster Rotary Club and volunteer at the Hospice & Community Care annual Labor Day auction and at LCBC Church in Manheim. Prior to becoming a parent, I was also a volunteer reading tutor with the Lancaster-Lebanon Literacy Council. As an avid reader, I felt like it was a logical choice for me. Now a good bit of my spare time is spent shuttling and cheering on my daughters for their various activities.

How did you end up being the lone English major working at an architectural firm?

I started out as a dietetics major in college, but after a couple of semesters of pre-med sciences switched over to English and communications. My second choice career has been a great fit for me since I love to write and thoroughly enjoy coordinating communications for the firm as well as continually researching and learning new things.

What was your first part-time job?

My first part-time job was working in the food service department at Willow Valley Manor in Willow Street, Pennsylvania.  An interesting coincidence is that now RLPS is working with Willow Valley Living at the Manor and other campuses.  It’s great to see how much it has grown and changed since I worked there.

What was your most unique job experience?

My most unique job was working in various capacities on my parents’ dairy farm. For the most part I loved working with the animals and being outdoors, but I was not a fan of the long hours and especially disliked waking up before 4 am!  I think that experience resulted in a strong work ethic, but also an understanding that I was better suited to a desk job.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou

 Professional Qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Arts with Honors in English/Communications from Albright College
  • LEED Accredited Professional, United States Green Building Council


Carson Parr, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

8 Years of Experience / 8 Years at RLPS

How do you spend your spare time?

Playing soccer, golfing, snowboarding, and hiking with my dogs. I love to travel and experience places and cultures.

When did you decide you wanted to be an architect?

From Lincoln Logs and Legos to my first toolbox and working in my grandfather’s glass shop, I’ve always liked building things.  At some point, I realized people’s lives were impacted by the spaces they inhabit and that’s why I became an architect—to help improve the quality of people’s lives by creating and defining the spatial experience. Following my internship at RLPS, the sincerity of the people, the quality of the work, and the culture of the firm made me feel at home. I look forward to coming to work every day.

What was your first part-time job?

My first job was a tractor trailer washer. Need I say more?

What was your most unique client quote or job experience?

Every client and project is unique. I cherish them all in their own way – It’s about people and our clients are among the best!

Do you have a favorite quote or is there an architect whose work you admire?

My favorite quote is “Everything happens for a reason.” I have two role models:  my father and grandfather.  Both have inspired me to work hard, be humble and take nothing for granted.

Professional Qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Architecture: Community and Urban Design / Pennsylvania State University
  • NCARB Registered Architect
  • Member, American Institute of Architects
  • 2018 President and Board Member, AIA Central Pennsylvania
  • Member, United States Green Building Council Building Design and Construction


Brent Stebbins, AIA

25 Years of Experience / 18 Years at RLPS

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy touring new places, visiting noteworthy architectural sites and also enjoy hiking/walking (mostly), history, time spent with my family, church and exercise.

When did you decide you wanted to be an architect?

I probably began considering architecture as a profession in high school drafting class, but my interest in building started much earlier with LEGOS, wooden blocks, Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys. As a child I was always imagining and creating. Bouncing between the contrast of life on a farm and progressive suburbia as I grew up also had a very strong influence, leading to my love of nature and outdoor connections.

What was your first part-time job?

I started helping out on a farm from a very early age, but my first “real” job on my own was as a bag boy at Acme Markets.

Are there any unique quotes or job experiences you can share?

A loose quote from Architect Peter Bohlin:  “Architecture is much like people’s faces.  It’s the unique differences, the quirks, that make them interesting, maybe even beautiful.”

Do you have a favorite architect or role model?

I have many favorite architects for varied reasons.  A good architect builds on the shoulders of giants.  You study all the greats and then morph them into your thoughts to develop something uniquely your own.  Frank Lloyd Wright for example, was strongly influenced by H.H. Richardson, Louis Sullivan, Japanese Architecture and many others (but he famously only credited Louis Sullivan.)

Professional Qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Architecture with Honors and Bachelor of Environmental Design in Architecture with Honors / North Carolina State University
  • Associate Degree in Architectural Technology with Honors / Pennsylvania College of Technology
  • NCARB Registered Architect
  • Member, American Institute of Architects



DESIGN INTERVENTION: St. James Parish House is an ‘exquisite’ example of its Georgian Revival inspiration

C. Emlen Urban Series – Part 11

Architects typically hit full stride in their early 40s, and C. Emlen Urban was no exception. With his practice in full swing and his reputation for producing high-quality work growing exponentially, Urban was able to be more selective with the commissions he accepted and the architectural styles he designed.

Approximately two years prior to the Stevens Girls High School dedication, the bishop of St. James Episcopal Church offered a blessing for its newly constructed Parish House at 119 N. Duke St. Its architect was none other than Lancaster’s favorite design professional, 41-year-old Urban.

Respecting the adjacent Federal-style church and rectory, Urban selected Georgian Revival style for the 1903 three-story, five-bay brick Parish House. This monumental yet understated structure is one that is easily overlooked by the passer-by. Today, and even in the earliest known photographs of the Parish House, massive shade trees along the narrow sidewalk make it difficult to appreciate and fully enjoy the architecture and detailing. Behind the canopy of branches, however, lies Urban’s largest and most exquisite example of nonresidential Georgian Revival architecture.

The Parish House exhibits textbook Georgian Revival details, including Flemish bond brick, quoins, a water table, two belt courses, keystone window lintels, six-over-six window panes and classic Ionic columns. However, the real magic occurs at two locations on the facade. Directly over the main entrance door is a cast-stone balcony supported by two large decorative consoles and, above that, a stone pediment with the date inscribed in Roman numerals. The second location is Urban’s attention to detailing at the roof cornice; the deep soffit consists of square blocks with pegs, round rosettes, dentil molding and the traditional use of Greek “egg and dart” trim.

The full digital version of the LNP News article can be found on LancasterOnline.

Seniors Housing News Best Independent Living Design 2017: Willow Valley Vistas & Chautauqua Hall


“Avoid the diminished standard, you don’t have to give anything up.”

This was the directive from John Swanson CEO of Willow Valley to the RLPS design team.  We were challenged to envision an upscale apartment model and event venue that would reflect the community’s high standards for gracious, vibrant spaces that avoid the limitations of conventional ideas about what is appropriate for older adults.

The five-story apartment building occupies a prime hilltop location allowing for underground parking as well as commanding views toward the city of Lancaster on one side and farmland on the other side.

“The building footplate was defined as part of a planning initiative several years before the actual building design work started,” according to Paul Nikolaus, AIA, project designer.  “Fixed property line setbacks, impervious coverage limitations, site grading and a 60-foot building height requirement provided the framework for the final plan solution which uses the hilltop location to advantage.”

“Despite the 60-foot limitation, generous ceiling heights were accomplished by utilizing a thin floor/ceiling assembly via a steel frame and concrete plank structural system,” states project architect, Rob Beal, AIA.  “This system, along with large, projecting box bay windows, helped to create open and bright living areas that take advantage of panoramic views.”

Generous spaces for gathering and entertaining include a 360 degree rooftop terrace, community meeting rooms, a business center for resident use, library, fitness area, game room, top floor dining room, and a catering kitchen that residents are able to use for private parties.

“We wanted these spaces to be functional for seniors, but not compromise the hospitality-driven design Willow Valley is known for,” Beal says.

The rooftop venue includes casual seating areas, fire tables and bar for a range of casual interactions and events.  The commanding views were also a priority inside the building where the top floor dining terrace focuses on the outdoors.

The name “Chautauqua Hall,” was selected for the event pavilion due to its Native American association with bringing people together. Rustic, agrarian-influenced design details combine with state-of-the-art technology for an appealing indoor/outdoor venue to host a variety of functions.

According to Rebecca Slenker, AIA, project architect for Chautauqua Hall, “The Lancaster County Amish construction details, such as mortise and tenon joinery, required the involvement of local craftsmen to maintain authentic regional construction techniques.  We also wanted to be sure about structural integrity and safety for this type of commercial event space.”

The four season building includes a raised platform, green room and dance floor, small scale commercial equipment kitchen and bar, as well as an outdoor fireplace and grill.  Operable garage doors allow for open air events that can spill out to the exterior patio.

“There are also active louvers in the cupolas for natural ventilation in the summer months,” Slenker adds.

Comments from members of the jury are included in a feature article from Senior Housing News about this award-winner.




Rooster Woodshop Receives AIA Central PA Design Awards

The new 8,700 square foot woodshop at the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania has come a long way from the renovated chicken coop which was its original home.  The jury for the AIA Central Pennsylvania Excellence in Design Awards selected The Rooster Woodshop for an Award of Merit.  The AIA membership echoed the jury’s opinion by also selecting the project for the Member’s Choice Award, determined through on-line voting.

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New Vision for Lancaster Chamber = New Home for Community Prosperity + Business Success

The design vison for the new headquarters for the Lancaster Chamber began with an office-wide design competition, with more than 12 teams participating. A variety of approaches to reinventing the existing 30,000 square foot office building were presented to user groups, and the preliminary concept developed by David McNally, Designer and Liz Koch, Interior Designer resonated with Chamber representatives. However that was just the beginning of a collaborative process working closely with Warfel Construction Company, Lancaster Chamber representatives and many other local companies to create a contemporary, multi-functional community hub for learning, connecting and collaborating. 

The existing façade of 115 East King Street was designed at a time when modern lines and new architectural rhythms rejected the context and cadence of the surrounding buildings in favor of new ideas. The new home for the Lancaster Chamber captures the rich architectural context of King Street by breaking down the former 60 foot façade to create a more graceful 45 foot wide main elevation stepping out toward King Street. 

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The year is 1896.  C. Emlen Urban is 33 years old and celebrating his tenth year of private practice.  His architectural commissions to date have been as varied as his business acquaintances. Architectural styles embodied in his work have included Queen Anne, Shingle, East Lake, Chateauesque and Romanesque Revival.  Noteworthy business acquaintances have included chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, hotelier Charles Wagner, tobacconist Menno M. Fry and, now, mercantilist Peter T. Watt partner of James Shand.

Within one year of completing twin Chateauesque mansions on West Chestnut Street in 1895,  Urban was commissioned to design an even more impressive baronial Chateauesque mansion at the corner of President and Marietta Avenues for the Watt family. The full LNP Artical can be found at Lancaster On-line: Urban’s 1896 Work Builds Some of Lancaster’s Still-Treasured Landmarks.

RLPS Welcomes Interns – Summer 2017

This summer, we are excited to have six interns, representing five different universities, in three different departments.  

Alex Kiehl (furthest to left)

Major: Architectural Design and Historic Preservation
Temple University

  Alex has always been interested in both math and the arts, which led to her interest in architecture. Once she took time off campus, to explore Philadelphia’s aged architecture she decided to add historic preservation to her degree.

  While at Temple, Alex is the AIAS (American Institute of Architecture Students) treasurer and she is the peer mentor to a small group of freshmen architecture students. After Temple, she plans on becoming a licensed architect with the preference to work at a firm.  Alex also aspires to work as a professor at some point, in the hopes to teach studio classes.

  Away from academics, Alex ‘s favorite food is fried calamari.  She enjoys listening to a variety of music but she tries to steer clear of jazz and country.  Alex loves to travel, and typically enjoys going on day trips and exploring her surroundings.

  This is Alex’s first summer at RLPS and she is excited for the experience.  Welcome, Alex!

Andrew Davis (third from the right)

Major: Building Science and Sustainable Design
Penn College of Technology & University of Maryland

  When Andrew was younger, he had a vision of designing his own house or his parents house.  As his life developed, Andrew became more interested in building design. 

  Andrew just graduated on May 13th and is now pursuing his Masters of Architecture this coming fall.  While he was obtaining his undergrad at Penn Tech, he was the treasurer of AIAS his 3rd year, he was a club member of USGBC (United States Green Building Council) Students for 3 years and his final year he was the Vice President of USGBC.  This coming fall, at University of Maryland, Andrew will be a teaching assistant.

  Whether it be a round of golf or sailing on his grandfather’s boat, Andrew has a huge passion for the outdoors.   Andrew also is musically gifted, he plays the drums and he occasionally sings. 

  Andrew’s goal is to be a licensed architect in several states while being a designer.  His long term goal would be opening up his own architectural firm or partnering with an existing firm. 

  Andrew interned at RLPS last summer and this past winter break, and we are happy to have him back again this summer!

Madelyn Holliday (second to the right)

Major: Interior Design
Viginia Tech

  Madelyn has always had an interest in design, even as a child.  She took many art  and design  classes throughout high school.  Since people spend the majority of their time indoors, Madelyn decided to select interior design, so she can enhance living spaces and quality of life using colors and materials.

  At Virginia Tech Madelyn has fully immersed herself in student life.  She is in IDEAS (Interior Designers for Education and Sustainability club) where interior design firms and manufacturers’ representatives come in and present their projects.

  Madelyn has also taken Greek life under her belt and is in a sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, where she is on the Relay for Life team and she is on the design/decoration committee. Madelyn is planning on running the Hokie half marathon at Virginia Tech, this September. 

  As of now, Madelyn sees herself working at a design firm in a large city post graduation.   She hopes to design commercial and retail interiors.  

  Welcome Madelyn, we are happy to have you as a returning intern!

Marlene Sharp (third from the left)

Major: Architecture
Penn State University

  While Marlene was going through school, her favorite subjects were math and art.  She selected architecture as a major so her skills and interests would benefit others.

  Outside of the studio, Marlene is involved in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, AIAS, Schreyer Honors College, and she enjoys being part of Penn State’s dance marathon known as THON.

  On top of her many involvements in college, Marlene enjoys drawing, reading, golfing, baking and watching Japanese Animation.  Marlene favors Asian cuisine and after spending a semester in Italy she has come to love gelato too.  Coldplay is Marlene’s all-time favorite artist to listen to; other than Coldplay she enjoys popular songs on the radio.

  Marlene not only wants to become a licensed architect, but she also strives to earn an MBA.

  This is Marlene’s second summer at RLPS.  She hopes to discover her true passions  in architecture, while gaining invaluable experience from her mentors at RLPS.

McKenna Achenbach (second to the left)

Major: Marketing w/Minor in Public Relations
Alvernia University

  McKenna has always been interested in the motives behind the actions of her peers, she loves the arts and she values creativity.  Those three interests led her to marketing and communications.

  At Alvernia, McKenna is the President of AMA (American Marketing Association).  During the fall, McKenna is on Alvernia’s volleyball team.  She is also actively involved in taking a service learning course each semester.  McKenna loves service learning courses because she gets hands on experience while giving back to the local community.

  When McKenna is not busy at college she enjoys kayaking, reading self-help books, having bonfires, listening to any genre of music, working out, and playing with her labradoodle, Noodles.

  Mckenna aspires to work as an in-house marketer for 10 to 15 years.  Then she would like to do marketing for a college or university and slowly start teaching courses all while gaining her doctorate, ultimately becoming a full time professor.

  This is our Marketing department’s first intern and it is McKenna’s first summer with RLPS. Welcome!

Mieke Kissick (furthest to the right)

Major: Architecture
Penn State University

  While Mieke was growing up, she always loved building things with her father.  Mieke’s experience with her father compelled her to look into architecture, and it quickly became a good fit.

  At Penn State Mieke stays very busy.  This past year she was the  treasurer of Penn State’s AIAS chapter, she was also a part of AIAS for THON, and a member of SEED (Students for Environmentally Enlightened Design).  On top of that, Mieke is a teaching assistant for a freshmen drawing class.

  Away from academics, Mieke enjoys playing the guitar or ukulele and she likes taking time to knit. When it comes to her music preference, Mieke is currently hooked on Ed Sheeran and her favorite food is pierogis but they have to be homemade. Mieke tries to stay active, she played soccer throughout high school, so once she got to college, she decided to join intramural teams for both soccer and volleyball.

  Mieke is trying to fully immerse herself in the culture at RLPS, this is her second summer interning with us.  We are happy to have her back!