Southern Market – Historic Reinvention

Lancaster, PA

This restoration and renovation project preserved Southern Market’s architectural and historical significance while modernizing its function. The market was built in 1888 and was designed by Lancaster architect C. Emlen Urban. As a lively new food hall, Southern Market pays homage to the original function as a market, while serving as a new hub of activity in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Every effort was made to maintain and preserve the character and integrity of the historical design that earned it status on the National Register of Historic Places while securing its longevity for years to come.

Food Vendors

In tribute to the original use as a market, the 7,500 square foot main space houses the food hall with 10 vendors and seating for 250 patrons in a reimagined modern food-centered venue.

The Southern Market vendor spaces are an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to start their own restaurant operations and earn recognition for their cuisine. Each vendor is supported with access to a large communal production kitchen. After 18 months of building their reputations, vendors are encouraged to open their own establishments. This structure results in a variety of cultural cuisines that are continually cycling in new talent.

Bar 1888 & Green Wall2-story green wall made of preserved moss behind a wrap-around bar under an iron-work canopy

In the middle of the main food hall is Bar 1888, a 30-seat bar. The bar serves as a focal point and the hub of social engagement throughout the hall.

The new metal canopy’s arched forms complement the exposed ceiling trusses that soar above while also grounding the open two-story space. Though industrial in form, its detailing complements the wooden panels and light fixtures that surround the marbleized bar top. The canopy also serves to create a sense of intimacy at the bar.

The vertical green wall accentuates the height of the space while adding a natural component to soften the interior palette and provide a pop of color. It was designed as an opportunity for brand signage. The preserved moss also functions as acoustic absorption to counter the hard surfaces throughout the space.

Co-Working & Community Space

The second story of the market hall is encircled by rentable coworking office spaces. Each office preserves the original architectural elements, including painted brick, tie rods, and arched windows, while complementing these features with contemporary glass-paneled enclosures.

In addition to smaller offices, some larger spaces are available to small businesses and startups. The communal kitchen offers both functional amenities as well as a space to network and relax. A series of rentable conference rooms and open collaboration areas make sure that all forms of operations are supported.

The project was made possible through a strategic partnership between Willow Valley Communities which oversees the market’s operations and local nonprofit organizations, Lancaster Equity and Assets which utilize some of the office spaces.

AIA Central Pennsylvania – Excellence in Design Merit Award

Photographs courtesy CCS Building Group

Kirkland Village – Marketplace Renovations

Bethlehem, PA

Updates to reconfigure and refresh the former café created a vibrant, contemporary dining venue to better serve residents, staff and guests. The “inside-the-box” marketplace renovations opened up and reprogramed the various spaces comprising this casual dining venue.

We began at the front door, shifting the gated portion of the entrance forward so that the new bakery/coffee shop and grab ‘n go store can be accessed even when other marketplace venues are closed.  New slatted wood barn doors and interior windows enable residents to have a view into the main bistro and display kitchen preparation areas.

Varied and Intimate Venues

The bakery display is the highlight of the new coffee shop which features the community’s popular pastry chef’s creations.  The adjacent Corner Shoppe provides a new grab ‘n go option for between meals and as an alternative to the communal dining options.

The staff corner was an important addition to provide staff members with the option of a relaxed place of respite while enjoying marketplace items.  This space also includes a hospitality station with coffee and other beverages as a staff member perk.

A Fresh Approach to Culinary Preparation, Nutrition and Flavor Diversity

The design team collaborated with community leadership and culinary staff members to help define functional goals and prioritize design features.  We started by meeting with the kitchen staff to observe how they worked and how the spaces and equipment functioned during mealtimes. Much of the cooking equipment was replaced and upgraded to accommodate more variety, diverse dietary preferences and fresh, made-to-order selections. The new equipment introduced contemporary technology innovations so that much of the food is now presented in an attractive, open-kitchen display format. One of the highlights is a hearth oven introduced at the center of the marketplace.

French Bistro Design Inspiration

The design inspiration for a distinctive atmosphere that reflects a new attitude toward the casual dining experiences. was a Parisian café/bistro. Resident representatives had the opportunity to review finish options and provided input regarding final selections. Bold emerald green wainscot and statement artwork draw eyes into the main dining space. White shiplap on the opposite face and floor-to-ceiling windows on the adjacent wall keep the space bright and airy while providing visual interest and texture.



Trout CPA

Lancaster, PA

When a local firm needed to expand, interior renovation allowed a modern office to emerge from a historic building. Due to rapid growth and a shortage of additional space at their Manheim Township location, Trout CPA returned to downtown Lancaster nearly 50 years after leaving the city. Their newest location at 158-160 E. King Street is located around the corner from where the company began in 1929.

Restoring A Piece of History

During the 13,000 square foot renovations, Trout CPA wanted to maintain the building’s rich history. A comprehensive interior renovation process was integral to the space restoration. The original tin ceiling was first on the list for preservation. Workers carefully removed and repainted the intricate tiles. Afterwards, the ceiling was reinstalled along with the existing trim and mouldings.

In the employee bistro/common area that looks out over King Street, a portion of the wall was covered in real brick. RLPS met with a manufacturer to match the interior brick with the outside of the building to provide a cohesive look. On the second floor, the original hardwood floors were refinished. Area rugs in a neutral pattern provide noise dampening.

Adding a Contemporary Flair

While maintaining the historic feel of the property was important, Trout CPA also wanted to reflect the contemporary, urban downtown environment inside this location. Designers carefully chose new interior details to match and complement the building’s original décor as much as possible. A dynamic, geometrical wallcovering welcomes visitors to the office. The color palette reflects Trout CPA’s updated branding and introduces a bright aqua accent color to complement the existing green.

The firm’s private offices feature large rolling glass doors that save space and add to the feeling of an open layout. When closed, privacy film on the door allows for confidential consultations with clients. RLPS also provided furniture selections with finishes and fabrics and then supported furniture delivery and installation.

Incorporating Nature

To introduce natural elements into the urban environment, the bistro features a live edge birch island countertop and live edge shelving. Echoing the birch surfaces, lighting in that area is mounted on a naturally finished wood backer. Planters installed on the nearby brick wall soften the hard surface with an organic element. Additional pieces and greenery can be added at any time. Near the entry, containers hold tall plants along a half-height wall further providing a visual barrier and add additional greenery to the space.

Littlestown Area School District

Littlestown, PA

Littlestown Area School District wanted to bolster their central campus by providing shared resources through a new combined secondary school. They also wanted to expand early childhood education programming. By upgrading facilities to be equitable for all, the District hoped to prepare students for life in the 21st century. A district wide feasibility study was the first step towards realizing their objectives. It also provided a firm plan for moving forward.

District Wide Feasibility Study

The feasibility study assessed the District’s school buildings: one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school. The facilities evaluated a total of 440,000+ SF on over 114 acres of property and serve approximately 2,200 students. The assessment indicated that the middle school required numerous improvements to meet current facility and educational needs. The evaluation also revealed that the high school had additional capacity available for curriculum use but needed renovations typical for a building of its age.

Starting the Process with Community Involvement

From the outset, the Design Team and School District directly engaged the Littlestown community as a part of the feasibility study. A community survey, focus group sessions and staff discussions aided information gathering. Enrollment projection analysis, building capacity evaluation, assessment of the existing facilities, and Steering Committee input in addition to the community feedback were used in compiling the study.

From Feasibility Study to Long-Range Plans

Seven options developed for District review included a mix of architectural scenarios:

  • combined middle school / high school
  • new middle school built next to high school
  • new high school with middle school moving to the existing high school

After reviewing study results and further discussion, the District implemented a long-range plan for updating the facilities. The plan includes additions and renovations to the existing high school building to create a new secondary school. Once the secondary school updates are complete, the middle school building will be used in a different capacity. The feasibility study also presented options for its use. The plan also includes direction for upgrades to athletic facilities, the central maintenance building and the mechanical systems at the District’s elementary school.

“We have been working with RLPS on a secondary school project for over two years. They have followed through on their promise to be customer service oriented, attentive to the multiple constituent groups and above all, very responsive to the needs of the Littlestown Area School District.”   

Mr. Christopher Bigger, Superintendent of Schools / Littlestown Area School District

Lancaster County Children’s Alliance

Lancaster, PA

This children’s advocacy center brings child abuse professionals together in one location to support the needs of victims and non-offending family members. The center’s former location was undersized and was not fully accessible. This retrofit project converted a three-story downtown residence to better support increasing program needs.

The 7,400 square foot renovated building contains five “pods” on the first and second floors.  Each pod is comprised of a consultation room, observation room and forensic room. A private family counseling space is adjacent to the lobby area on the first floor and a conference room is located of the second floor. The third level is used for staff offices and storage needs. Parking is provided behind the building with an accessible ramp leading to the entrance that has been discreetly located along the side of the building.

A Place to Feel Safe

All of the support spaces are designed to be inviting and friendly, but not distracting to the families and children who can range from pre-school to teenagers. Acoustical separation between spaces is a priority, particularly for the pod spaces.  Natural light, bright pops of color and nature references are designed to help support the healing process.  A large mural provides a positive visual distraction in each of the medical exam rooms and donor recognition and room signs feature a colorful leaf motif. A non-operating fireplace in the lobby remains as a simple visual feature for the space.

Support for Multidisciplinary Team Members

The Center’s multidisciplinary team includes child protection workers, law enforcement officers, medical providers, prosecutors, victim advocates, mental health providers, and advocacy center staff. The new center provides larger, more flexible and technology integrated spaces to accommodate this diverse group of professionals.

A staff breakroom was a much needed amenity that became a possibility in the new space.  Although modestly sized, the kitchenette and dining area is flooded with natural light and the breakroom was positioned to provide staff members with access to an existing balcony.

Meeting a Community Need

The new center provides more space to better coordinate the investigation and prosecution of child sex crimes, while also supporting the needs of those served. Children and their families can report allegations and use resources in the same place while having their privacy protected.

We are all still basking in the glow with how the new Lancaster County Children’s Alliance Center turned out when completed. It’s a warm and welcoming space with so many design details that provide an ideal place for children in our community to begin their journey to healing. RLPS was an invested partner that helped bring our vision to life.

Jennifer Groff, Vice President; LG Health Foundation

Photo Credit: Nathan Cox Photography

Pleasant View Communities – Hearth and Harrow

Manheim, PA

Bring In Outside Community

Renovation of a former café created Health and Harrow—a restaurant, private dining room, bistro, coffee bar, and outdoor patio—to enhance campus life and help to bring the outside community into Pleasant View. This not only provides an additional dining venue for a town that has limited restaurant options, but the extra income also helps to maintain – and even increase – Pleasant View’s benevolence to its residents.

Outdoor Connections

Large storefront windows replace bay windows and a rarely used vestibule just off the patio has been repurposed as two dining alcoves in the front of the bistro. Outdoor connections are highlighted with expanded windows, many with sills less than a foot above the ground, patio dining with a variety of seating options, and a renovated fountain featuring work by a local sculptor.


Hearth and Harrow highlights its local agrarian setting via hand-cut local tiles, local art, textured glass panels from a local glass supplier, reclaimed barn wood, and Edison bulbs inspired by nearby family farms. The name highlights the signature hearth feature and connects back to Pleasant View’s heritage of the family farm reflecting an operational goal to partner with local, Lancaster County food vendors and bring the Farm-to-Table movement to the community.

Photo Credit: Nathan Cox Photography

Barley Snyder Offices

Lancaster, PA

Interior updates for this thriving law practice focused primarily on the top two floors of work spaces, including the third floor paralegal and attorney’s offices, as well as a library and lounge area.  The project also involved updates to the first floor annex hospitality serving area and conversion of an office to a small conference room. Exposed brick walls and other distinctive historical elements were maintained for the updates.

This unique office setting was the site of additions and renovations previously designed by RLPS, resulting in the current three bay, three-story façade. The building face blends traditional and contemporary elements in its use of materials, scale and context with surrounding buildings.  Handmade oversized brick with grapevine mortar joints respects the adjacent historical structures. The bronze mirrored glass on the modern annex addition literally reflects a noteworthy Second Empire structure across the street.

Photo Credit:  Nathan Cox Photography

Sunshine Pediatric Dentistry

Lititz, PA

This project included complete interior design services for a pediatric dental office expansion. We assisted the client with selection of interior building finishes including paint, flooring, and lighting options and coordinated the selections with the contractor. We also provided furniture selections with finishes and fabrics appropriate for both children and adults and then supported furniture delivery and installation.

Photo Credit: Patton Photography

Wilbur Factory Redevelopment

Lititz, Pennsylvania

This project reinvented a decommissioned chocolate factory complex, built over 100 years ago, into a multi-use downtown development.  The 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.

AIA Central Pennsylvania – Honor Award for Design Excellence | Publication in Environments for Aging Design Showcase

Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Lancaster, PA

Renovations to an unoccupied office building created a dynamic, multi-functional community hub. The building includes two levels of parking, a community business center on the main floor, and two upper levels of offices and shared spaces for the Chamber and several partner organizations.  The commission began with an office-wide design competition. About a dozen teams presented a variety of approaches to reinventing the 30,000 square foot office building as the first step in selecting a preliminary design concept that would be subsequently developed into the final solution.

A New Face for the Chamber

The Chamber was committed to respecting the history of Lancaster while signaling an organizational commitment to looking forward. The updated building maintains a classical hierarchy, but is rendered in contemporary tones and textures. The former façade of 115 East King Street was designed at a time when modern lines and new architectural rhythms rejected the context and cadence of surrounding buildings in favor of new ideas. The new building face recaptures 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 the street.

Collaborative Work and Meeting Spaces

The building interior focuses on a range of multi-functional event and casual collaboration spaces. Varied furniture solutions include stand-up desks, “touchdown” work stations and comfortable seating with integrated charging stations, all supporting the needed flexibility. Bright pops of color and writable walls within meeting spaces and casual seating areas reinforce the energy and openness of the many spaces designed to foster idea sharing, community partnerships and business development.

Reinforcing Local Connections

Notable local material selections include slate and copper accent walls in meeting rooms, linear wood plank clouds painted in custom platinum and an open structural steel-frame stairway leading visitors to the community business center. Ceiling and lighting solutions throughout the building reflect a contemporary industrial aesthetic while maximizing natural light, integrating LED technology, and managing acoustical stability. A few details were incorporated during construction when unforeseen treasures were discovered during interior demolition. For example, an original beam from a Lancaster steel company was left exposed in the employee bistro.

Photo Credit: Nathan Cox Photography

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