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


McCormick Library Update – HACC

Harrisburg, PA

As part of the campus learning commons, McCormick Library is a vital resource that has continued to evolve and adapt to changing priorities. This library update project was the design result of fewer bookshelves and more digital reference materials and technology resources for hands-on learning and collaboration opportunities.

HACC recently halved its physical collection of books and periodicals paving the way for relocating the Campus Tutoring Center into the library. The next step was updating the interior environment. Reworking the overall space layout allowed for comfortable coexistence of quiet, private study areas and group collaboration spaces. This involved adding individual study zones and group project meeting rooms, as well as integrating flexible technology accommodations in all areas.  The library updates also reinforced HACC branding, referencing campus standards for both colors and maintenance preferences.

Library Updates to Enhance Learning Commons / Group Study Opportunities

Collaboration cubes and soft seating options were introduced to accommodate varied student needs. Two new group study rooms were added in the center of the second floor. This helped to define and separate the different tutoring and learning commons areas arranged around them. The group study rooms have solid end walls and semi-transparent side walls with sliding glass doors on one side.

Flexible furniture systems, including mobile whiteboards and modular workstations, were a priority. Replacement carpeting extended under the existing stacks to allow for future rearrangement or further reduction of physical materials. Booth-style seating and both high-top and low tables accommodate different student preferences and uses. The finish upgrades also addressed the need for enhanced sound absorption, particularly with the inclusion of open tutoring areas. New acoustical panels meet this functional requirement while adding visual appeal by extending color and texture to the walls.

Quiet Spaces Still Needed as Part of Library Update

Students highly valued the second floor of McCormick Library as the only space on campus designated as quiet study space. Due to appealing views at the front of the building, students tended to gravitate to furniture near the wall of windows on that side of the building for quiet reading and study.

The design reinforces this area as the quiet study space on the floor. The renovation introduced a new solid glass partition to create a designated quiet area that is acoustically separated from other spaces, particularly the collaboration zones on the floor. The glass wall allows light to flow through into other areas while providing views into the space inviting student use. Rather than seating groups, the quiet room has individual seating with options for enhanced visual privacy.  Solo seating with a privacy wing is meant to be oriented so that the privacy wing faces the interior. Acoustical wall panels were also added in this area to maintain a quiet and comfortable learning commons option.

Masonic Village – Freemasons Building

Elizabethtown, PA

The goal for this update project was to create an assisted living / personal care residence that looks like any other apartment building rather than a senior care facility. We took our cues from hospitality venues for gracious, contemporary spaces that emphasize color, texture and variety for inviting, visually appealing spaces.  Renovations to this occupied building encompassed updates to the lobby, corridors, dining and activity areas as well as individual living spaces, bathrooms and kitchens.

Photo Credit: Nathan Cox Photography

Masonic Village – Clinics Building

Elizabethtown, PA

Renovations to this 21,942 square feet, three-story, fully-occupied and operational healthcare building encompassed upgrades to waiting areas, corridors, evaluation rooms, administrative areas and therapy spaces with accommodations for bariatric patients. We utilized nature-inspired finishes and artwork along with bright pops of contemporary color to create a comfortable, healing environment.

Photo Credit: Nathan Cox Photography

Chestnut Ridge at Rodale – Sales Office & Model Apartment

Emmaus, PA

A new active adult 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

An adjacent garage building, previously used by Rodale as a farmer’s co-op, has been converted into the welcome center and sales office. A former Rodale warehouse now houses the full size mock-up of a model apartment. 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.

The model apartment helps visitors envision the scale, finishes and layout of a typical residence.  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.


Brethren Village – Short-Term Rehabilitation Center

Lititz, PA

This renovation to create a new rehabilitation center focused on biophilic design principles to foster connections with nature—whether sunlight, organic materials, outdoor views or nature photography.  Stone tile feature walls in patient suites and common areas, translucent resin panels incorporating botanical elements and bright splashes of color throughout create an uplifting, restorative environment that functions as a silent partner, reinforcing the delivery of quality care.

Photo credit: Larry Lefever Photography

Givens Estates – Oxford Commons

Asheville, NC

Givens Estates wanted to update their Oxford Commons amenity spaces to reflect their mission to provide residents the opportunities for a purpose-driven life where they can pursue their passions and explore the possibilities for personal growth and enrichment. Thus, we updated their commons to provide modern amenity spaces that reflect Givens Estates mountain aesthetic.

Multiple dining venues include a flexible gathering space aptly named The Social Brew provides a new place to connect with others over a cup of coffee, light breakfast, or glass of wine.

Market + Craft serves casual dining as well as fresh baked goods, take-out items, and locally sourced goods in the Marketplace. The new patio offers a spot to gather for a meal at a shaded table or relaxation around a fire pit or  Terrene provides a formal dining experience highlighted with a chef’s table bar to watch the kitchen action.

Additional renovations included the wellness center which now boasts a newly renovated 1700 SF fitness room and 1100 SF yoga and aerobics studio. A stained glass window triptych was relocated to a more prominent position and backlit to highlight the art inspired by the surrounding mountains. The multi-story grand staircase was refreshed with new finishes and now features a dramatic lighting installation.

Historic King Mansion

Harrisburg, PA

This historic riverfront property was renovated into a new event venue that pairs 1920s grandeur with simple urban elegance. We helped local engineering firm, K&W, renovate this unique landmark into their offices on the second floor and the new event venue on the first floor. Each room’s original architectural details such as trim, wainscot, and expansive arched windows were refreshed but kept intact as much as possible. Sculptural lighting fixtures, modern jewel-toned furniture, and metallic accents lend a current urban vibe to this property.

Photography Credit: Elliot Samuel

Patriots Colony

Williamsburg, VA

Expanding and Updating Dining Venues

The main goal of this dining renovation and expansion was to provide a casual contemporary dining experience while also accommodating additional residents thanks to a new independent living product introduced on the campus. Casual dining was expanded and formal, full-service dining received a refresh in a more intimate restaurant space. As the only on-campus dining available to independent living residents, the kitchen and a portion of the dining area had to be functional throughout the carefully phased updates.

Building on the Popularity of Casual Venues

The tavern has always been a popular space with residents who frequently gather for pre-dinner happy hours. Many residents liked to remain in the tavern for dinner, but there was rarely enough seating. We incorporated two rarely used adjacent dining rooms to create a larger, less formal venue modeled after a local Williamsburg-style pub.

In the casual bistro expansion and addition, display cooking now brings the sights and sounds of food preparation out into the dining area as well as giving residents more opportunities to interact with those preparing their meals. The appealing colonial elements were maintained, but updated with a fresh and natural color scheme that reflects the vibrancy of the adjacent patio and the campus landscaping visible through the large storefront-style windows.

We replaced formerly obtrusive acoustic panels in the formal dining venue with panels that blend into the surroundings, but still help with acoustics in the space.  Wait stations are now smaller and in less obtrusive locations allowing the food and ambiance to take center stage instead of the serving utilities. Additionally, soft seating added around the refaced two-sided fireplace not only serves as a focal point, but to also offer diners a comfortable place to sit while waiting to be seated for dinner.

Introducing an Outdoor Dining Option

An new outdoor patio area provides an al fresco dining opportunity. This popular new space features dining tables, a pavilion, fire pit and outdoor grilling area.  Community gardens needed to be relocated to make room for the dining addition and patio. Residents, initially resistant to moving their gardens, were satisfied with replacement gardens in a new location and the new space has become a well-loved amenity for all residents.

On the tight site, a new maintenance building needed to sit directly beside the expanded patio. Thus, this service building received a higher level of detail/finishes including a herringbone brick detail inset into stucco wall, a partially bricked façade, as well as a roof that coordinates with the adjacent dining gazebo to make the back of the building a feature instead of an eyesore.  Additionally, the existing pond located only steps away from the expanded patio needed special considerations and protection both while the renovations were in progress and after completion to keep the view to the pond open. Instead of taller shrubbery, groundcover plantings allow for unobstructed views.

Award:  Environments for Aging Remodel-Renovation Competition Bronze Winner

“What an upgrade for the lives of the residents and guests.  The addition of casual dining and outdoor dining complements the services already provided and rounds out the offering with an understated elegance.  I appreciated the effort taken to break a large space into more intimate “rooms” that provide great scale.  The colors, textures, patterns are selected to engage, but not overpower, the individual entering the space.  The storefront windows connect the outdoor spaces with the indoor areas nicely.  I also appreciate the attention to the view shed and additional work done on the maintenance building to enhance the experience for those on the patio.  The display cooking in the casual dining area creates an energetic and engaging experience as well.” 

Juror Comments

Photography Credit:  Nathan Cox Photography

The Lofts at Village on the Isle

Venice, FL

Master planning resulted in a multi-phased update process, with some buildings to be replaced and others reinvented over the course of several years.  This began with the conversion of the 80,000 square foot Mark Manor assisted living residence into The Lofts updated households.

The former Mark Manor building had a sturdy concrete structure that was in good condition and well suited to the Florida climate. This client made the fiscally-responsible decision to work with the “good bones” and reinvent each floor to create person-centered households. The overall census dropped from 90 beds to 64 suites, 16 on the second floor for residents with dementia and 48 on three other floors for assisted living.

Façade Updates

The dramatic changes to the building are immediately apparent with the revitalized exterior façade, updated to be compatible with new construction on campus. A variety of window types and sizes, stucco color placement to define masses, and smaller details such as railings and brackets combine to accomplish a visually appealing and renewed building on campus. Clear, insulated impact glass replaced the former pink tinted windows and hurricane shutters.

Avoiding Multiple Moves for Residents with Dementia

Despite the added challenges associated with vertical mechanical and plumbing infrastructure when renovating a middle floor, the owner decided to start on the second floor so residents with dementia would not have to move multiple times. Updates were carefully implemented to maintain utilities on other floors while replacing plumbing stacks and upgrading mechanical systems in the renovated spaces.

Due to the eight-foot floor to ceiling height, every bulkhead is functional to maintain as much height as possible while introducing outside air through a new mechanical system. The wood ceiling system conceals mechanical and existing structural components and simulates greater ceiling height.

Creating Households

Each floor was reconfigured to provide larger, private suites, along with expanded common household spaces. Several resident units on each floor were eliminated to gain much needed neighborhood living/dining space. A new great room was introduced for each household and larger exterior windows were configured within the building façade to increase natural light and outdoor views.

The nurse station was replaced with a full kitchen in the dining area of the great room. State of the art food service equipment was integrated into custom cabinetry and lowered counters with eased edges allow residents to take part in the chef’s culinary creations. A pantry service area is provided behind the kitchen and the elevator lobby has been re-envisioned as a foyer with a front door leading into the common living spaces much like the entry experience in a private residence.

“A great example of how to successfully work with in an existing envelope with restricted ceiling heights. The new residential style open kitchen is a great addition to the renovated great room. The elimination of the old style prominent nursing station is a great step and should be emulated by others.”   

Environments for Aging Remodel-Renovation Competition Finalist, Juror Comments

Photo Credit:  Nathan Cox Photography (exteriors) Prion Photography (interiors)