Knowledge Park – York College of Pennsylvania

York, PA

Renovating a former mill and warehouse into a Campus Resource for Academic, Business, and Community Partnerships

Master planning was the first step to convert a 200-year-old former paper mill into Knowledge Park, a Project Based Learning (PBL) resource for local businesses, students and faculty members.  This business incubator and innovation hub will provide multiple benefits:

  • Repurpose and beautify the previously blighted 40-acre property
  • Enhance the student experience through Project Based Learning opportunities
  • Attract commercial tenants to a key corridor that connects the college campus to the surrounding downtown.

Knowledge Park to be a Shared Resource for Project-Based Learning

The 101,599 square foot warehouse structure will include small classrooms or conference rooms, a large seminar room and student study and collaboration spaces. Private industry and public sector partners will lease offices and shell spaces to be fit out for their specific needs.

Knowledge Park is designed to offer real-world experience for students studying in multiple disciplines, from engineering and computer science to the liberal arts.  The defined-use spaces will be complemented by shared amenities spread across three floors. These resources include lounges, huddle rooms, collaboration zones and break room.  Community event spaces for special programs and activities will reinforce the spirit of collaboration between students, faculty, and private/public partners.

Business partners foster the critical linkages within the Graham Center for Collaborative Innovation.  These strategic partnerships facilitate active Project-Based Learning, collaborative research with a faculty member and/or student and student co-op/internship opportunities or part-time work.

Architectural Design Strategy to Create a Knowledge Park

The architectural language borrows heavily from York’s deep industrial history and wealth of factory building stock.  Modern elements pair with the industrial aesthetic to announce the forward-thinking focus of this contemporary learning center. A dramatic 3-story design gesture at the new west entry serves as a beacon that is visible from the main campus and west campus axis.

The original factory site plan was informed by the edges of Tyler Run and Codorus Creeks which historically provided power to the facilities.  The northern and western edges continue to be defined by the creeks, but open green spaces along the property edge will now allow for interaction with the waterways.

Integration of Historic Property into Knowledge Park Complex

The historic Mill House (Philip King House), physically connected to the manufacturing complex, will be converted to office spaces for the College and collaborative conference rooms for shared use with tenants. The design team was deliberate about preserving the story of the factory by identifying artifacts and icons that continue the narrative.

Interior and exterior features will be repaired and upgraded to serve the complex while maintaining the historic character.  The use of thin, glassy and lightly structured connections between the Philp King House and the mill preserves the identity of both structures while providing needed access and connectivity.

The West End Warehouse will offer a dramatic entrance to the complex by introducing natural light, high ceilings, large multi-use spaces and vertical building circulation. Kings Mill Warehouse will serve as the interior crossroads of the complex with huddle rooms and a grand stair open to multiple stories and skylights above.

Assisting with Innovative Funding Sources

York College purchased the site more than a decade ago and has maintained it since then, waiting for an appropriate use. A $6 million Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant paved the way for development of this property, expanding the College’s North Campus.

A series of focus groups, followed by a design charrette and concept review meetings assembled feedback from multiple stakeholder groups to quickly come to a design consensus for an innovative, Project-Based Learning resource. This enabled the first phase of redevelopment to move forward within a tight timeframe required for the RACP funding mechanism.

 “This project will be a true college/community partnership that helps improve the City and our campus while serving to create high-skill/high-wage employment opportunities for our students and alumni.”

Pamela Gunter-Smith, President, York College of Pennsylvania


Chestnut Ridge at Rodale – Sales Office & Model Apartment

Emmaus, PA

A new active adult satellite community will evolve in phases, beginning with adaptive reuse of the former Rodale publishing company offices into apartments. The property is currently in the development phase so the sale office and model apartment are critical tools to help achieve the owner’s vision for a new residential community that embraces Rodale values of melding fitness, organic dining and wellness

Welcome Center Sales Office

An adjacent garage building, previously used by Rodale as a farmer’s co-op, has been converted into the welcome center and sales office.  The interior design of the welcome center maintains the existing building’s industrial aesthetic complementing the contemporary agrarian theme planned for the new community.  Hospitality and technology are comfortably integrated to provide an appealing experience. Interactive touch-screens are combined with artfully arranged presentation visuals to help prospective residents explore floor plans, finish options and community amenities.  The space is designed for flexibility to accommodate individual visits as well as special events hosting larger groups.

Model Apartment

A former Rodale warehouse now houses the full size mock-up of a model apartment. The model apartment helps visitors envision the scale, finishes and layout of a typical residence in the satellite community under construction.  This mock-up space was staged to show a functional and attractive furniture layout for the apartment model floor plan, with accessories added to for the visual appeal of a comfortable, contemporary home.


Oak Tree Development – 48 on the Park

Lititz, Pennsylvania

This project reinvented a decommissioned chocolate factory complex, built over 100 years ago, into a multi-use development.  The multi-use redevelopment project is anchored by the iconic Wilbur Chocolate Factory, which is being repurposed into an upscale hotel, market, restaurant and luxury condominiums. The complex will also be home to The Lofts at Lititz Springs, a new 55+ satellite housing option for Pleasant View Communities, a nearby retirement community, as well as market-rate apartments. The vision for the project encompasses varied uses to ultimately bring more people into this thriving downtown to live, shop, dine and stay.

Redeveloping a Downtown Chocolate Factory Complex

The former Wilbur Chocolate Factory was comprised of a dozen different buildings added to the original structure over the decades.  The adaptive re-use solution preserved the most historically and architecturally significant portions of the buildings and removed the later industrial additions that lacked aesthetic value and were competing for daylight on an already crowed site. The additions and new structures on the site blend with the old by echoing the roof lines and window placement. Additionally, materials such as red brick are featured throughout both the exterior and interior of the buildings and iron railings are repeated on both existing and new construction.

Fitting Diverse Uses on a Tight Site Squeezed Between a Functioning Rail Line and Town Streets

Breathing room was carved out of the chocolate factory by removing parts of the building that had less architectural value to make room for a series of entry experiences. Starting at Broad Street, the public entrances to both the restaurant and marketplace echo the former street-facing retail component of the factory and embraces the fabric of the town. Progressing deeper into the site, a former loading dock and 1970s addition were removed to form the main courtyard entrance for the hotel and public entrance to the condominiums. Around the corner, a former parking lot is being converted to The Lofts 55+ housing, extending the town streetscape and directly connecting those residences to the new amenities.

The 26 unique condo residences take advantage of the exposed brick and heavy timber structure to create unique, luxury living quarters with views of the adjacent park.  Likewise, the 74-room boutique hotel  complements the personality and style of Lititz.  “The Wilbur” pays homage to the historic chocolate brand that is a big part the community heritage and provides upscale guest rooms and amenities within the framework of these historic buildings. Adding to an already thriving retail and food culture in Lititz, the design also includes a new 150-seat restaurant and food marketplace along Broad Street. This new building addition has been carefully designed to be a good architectural neighbor to the well-established fabric of downtown Lititz.