RLPS Architects Achieves WELL Health-Safety Rating

We Are WELL RLPS Architects has earned the WELL Health-Safety Rating for its office, located at 250 Valleybrook Drive, through the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). The WELL Health-Safety Rating is an evidence-based, third-party verified rating for all new and existing building and space types. It focuses on operational policies, maintenance protocols, stakeholder engagement and emergency plans to address a post-COVID-19 environment now and into the future. Continue reading

Laura Peppler Earns NCIDQ Certification

Congratulations to RLPS Interior Designer Laura Peppler for passing her exams to become a National Council for Interior Design Qualifications (NCIDQ) designer! We celebrated with our traditional scarf/tie cutting at our June staff meeting. All partners in attendance cut a piece of Laura’s scarf to celebrate.

Congratulations Zach Oster!

Congratulations to RLPSer Zach Oster! Zach recently completed his Architectural Registration Exams. To celebrate, we continued with our tradition of having each partner cut a piece of Zach’s tie.

Lancaster Walking Tour – Clark Associates

Gregg Scott, FAIA, Partner Emeritus at RLPS Architects, will be hosting a private walking tour of Historic Downtown Lancaster.  This Lancaster Walking  Tour will showcase a diverse mix of commercial and residential buildings reflecting a myriad of architectural styles, all within a few blocks of the city square.


The following pdf files are the handouts for tour-goers to reference during the tour:

Center City Walking Tour – Part 1

Center City Walking Tour – Part 2

RLPS Names Newest Partner

We are excited to announce the promotion of James Mehaffey to Partner. Jim has worked with RLPS for several years and is probably familiar to many of our clients and business associates, so we’ve asked him a few questions about his career path and personal inspiration instead.

James A. Mehaffey, AIA

RLPS Employee since 1995

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I’m Chair for AIA PA Building Code Committee, Member of the Manheim Township Uniform Construction Code Appeals Board, and Board Member at the Lancaster Code Association. I am also Co-Captain of a MS Society Walk Team with my wife.  I enjoy photography (both digital and old-school film) and tinkering in my wood shop.  I hope to travel again soon with my family.

How did you decide you wanted to be an architect?

In seventh grade career day, one of the presenters was a cool, young architect who said he didn’t have to wear a tie every day.  I was sold from that moment on.  Somehow, I still have dozens of ties in my closet.

What was your first part-time job?

Picking corn on the property that now houses the RLPS office!  Literally right where I am sitting, I picked corn.

Tell us about a unique experience you’ve had at RLPS:

RLPS needed some summer interns in 1995.  My name was suggested but I was in Europe doing a semester abroad at the time they were interviewing. When they called my house, my mother took it upon herself to grab my portfolio of school projects and meet with one of the partners. She essentially interviewed for me without me knowing – she told me about it later.  I never actually had an interview at RLPS.

Professional Qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Architecture with Honors, Minor in Architectural History, Pennsylvania State University
  • Pennsylvania State University Renaissance Scholar
  • AIA Henry Adams Award
  • Greater Harrisburg Foundation Steele Fund Award of Merit
  • NCARB Registered Architect
  • Member, American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • Pennsylvania State University Architecture & Landscape Architecture Summer Camp Volunteer
  • Work Group for the International Code Council, A117.1 for Assisted Toileting and Showing Technical Criteria in Health Care Occupancies





RLPS Architects Promotes Eleven

RLPS Architects has promoted Paul J. Nikolaus, III, AIA, LEED AP and Dustin Julius, Associate AIA as the firm’s first Associate Partners while Ty D. Shappell, AIA, CCCA, LEED AP BD+C was promoted to Director of Construction Administration. Deborah Kimmet, IIDA and Jessie Shappell, IIDA, RA, WELL AP, LEED AP BD+C were promoted to Senior Interior Designers. Kristin Novak, IIDA was promoted to Senior Interior Designer / Director, Pittsburgh Office. Edward S. Althouse, Jr., RA; Matthew S. Kogut, RA, LEED AP and John D. Houck II, RA were promoted to Senior Project Architects. David T. McNally was promoted to Senior Designer and Erin R. Hoffman, ALEP was promoted to Senior Project Manager.



Getting Back to the Office

It’s good to be back in the office!  The return for me was doubly good as I got to move into an office with walls and doors.

You Can’t Take the Code Review out of the Reviewer

My new office door is in close proximity to several of our firm’s designers.  Why would that make any difference to the Building Code Compliance person?  As I pass everyone’s desk, I look at their drawing boards.  Not with any specific intent for code review, but just as a course of curiosity.  I will, and do, look at all the projects as they develop: that’s what I am here for.  But I previously did not get a chance to look at designs as they are being hatched.  When it is early, a lot of creative juices are flowing, and designers can, and should, feel uninhibited to explore any possibility out there.  Restrictions of any kind, including building codes, can limit a potential solution. In many cases compliance issues may be addressed in a way that doesn’t compromise that initial (and awesome) solution.  But sometimes I just can’t help but feel a disturbance in the Force.

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Congratulations Jacie Prasnikar!

Congratulations to RLPSer Jacie Prasnikar! Jacie recently completed her Architectural Registration Exams. To celebrate, we continued with our tradition of having each partner cut a piece of Jacie’s scarf.

Avoiding a Surfside, Florida Type Disaster

The following article appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer (with edits) on July 7, 2021.

It seems trite to call the collapse of the Champlain Tower South building in Surfside, Florida tragic, yet that is the closest description I can offer.  I cannot pretend to imagine the sorrow and horror experienced by those affected by this event.  As the rescue and stabilization efforts continue, it is only natural to wonder – how did this happen?  And can it happen here? Don’t we have building codes to prevent something like this?

It is important to note that officials continue to investigate the root cause (or more likely, causes) in this case.  I do not intend to speculate on the cause here, but generally speaking, buildings fail due to a compromised skeleton, or structure.  Issues can come from sources that aren’t readily observable on the surface.  The cause can be from outward forces, such as wind, snow, heat or soil settlement.  Faulty water shedding or improper maintenance can also cause corrosion of structural members over time.  One may only look to the Grand Canyon to see what water and time can create.  Certainly, we can immediately eliminate some of the potential culprits above, but Florida officials and inspectors will likely need months to come to conclusions on Champlain Tower South. Continue reading

Ephrata Area School District: High School / Middle School Bids on Budget

Despite a volatile bidding environment for a public project with multiple primes and work split between two District buildings,  the Ephrata Area School District High School / Middle School bids came in right on budget.  The team of Fidevia Construction Management, RLPS Architects, Moore Engineering Company and ELA Group carefully deliberated with the District regarding how and when to bid the projects due to fluctuating materials and labor costs. The bidding timeframe was ultimately extended so as not to coincide with other local public school project bid processes.

“We were pleased to be able to bring this project in on budget despite current construction pricing uncertainties,” reports Erin Hoffman, Project Manager.  “Our cost estimate for the project was $32,900,000 and the bids came in at $32,850,000.”

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