Church Farm School Breaks Ground on Campus Improvements
The first phase of campus improvements at Church Farm School is officially underway! VMA joined the school for the official groundbreaking this spring and construction has begun in earnest on a new centralized arts center; renovations to Greystock Hall, the school’s main academic building; and a new entrance road that will help improve overall campus safety. VMA is the project architect but also developed the comprehensive campus plan that is the driving force behind the improvements.
VMA Welcomes Monica Gaura
VMA is delighted to announce that Monica Gaura, RA has joined the firm as a Project Architect. Monica, who holds a degree in architecture from Drexel University and a Master’s degree in Theories of Urban Practice from Parsons School of Design, spent over five years working in New York before relocating back to the Philadelphia area. She is already hard at work as part of the team behind the Rauch Business College expansion at Lehigh University – but is also making sure to spend time with her sketchbook around the city.
New Projects on the Boards
Our staff are currently working on several exciting new projects, including:
Kutztown University – Renovation of the De Francesco Building, home to the university’s business programs
Lincoln University – Renovation and restoration of Vail Memorial Hall, built in 1898 and one of the oldest buildings on campus
Millbrook School – Developing our third consecutive campus plan for this long-term client since 2003
Philadelphia Museum of Art – Installation of a James Turrell Skyspace overlooking the Schuylkill River
Stay tuned for updates!
VMA Instagram Hits 1,500 Followers!
If you follow VMA on Instagram, you’re in good company: we officially reached 1,500 followers this spring! Daniela Voith personally manages our feed with posts ranging from little-seen photos from past projects, sneak peeks at projects that are currently in progress, updates from our staff, and design inspiration both local and global. Be sure to follow VMA today for the latest updates!
Rave Reviews At The Academy Of Music
The recently-completed first phase of seating and accessibility improvements at the historic Academy of Music has received rave reviews from audience members. In addition to replacing many of the theater’s seats with new models intended to improve audience comfort, the configuration was altered to increase the number and variety of accessible options.
After a recent performance, the relative of an accessible seating guest commented on their experience: “We loved the accessible seating at the Academy of Music… WOW! What a difference! She can see so much better. We were thrilled. We had stopped going to many shows at the Academy because being in the back was no fun for her at all. But now, we would absolutely come again and again! Thank you to everyone involved!”
We couldn’t ask for a greater compliment.
VMA Celebrates 30 Years
On a rainy November evening, VMA welcomed our partners, friends, and family to a very special celebration of the firm’s 30th anniversary. In addition to the roast pig and live jazz band – longstanding traditions at our annual party – this year we had a few surprises, too: wine tastings with Karamoor Winery, craft gin & tonic cocktails courtesy of Palmer Distilling Company, and a photobooth from The Yellow Mirror that let guests take their pictures “inside” their favorite VMA projects. Thank you to everyone who joined us for this important milestone.
Welcome To VMA!
VMA is always looking to expand our team, and we recently welcomed three new additions:
Georgina Johnson, Draftsperson, who recently graduated with dual degrees from Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College through the Bi-College Consortium. She has worked as a student researcher for Mural Arts’ Monument Lab program and is multilingual, understanding the basics of both Chinese and French.
Maryam Hallaj, Communications Coordinator, received her BS Architecture from Temple University and worked as an architectural designer before joining VMA. She was actively involved with several organizations at Temple, where she also co-founded The Architecture Lobby Temple Chapter, and continues to volunteer for events like DesignPhiladelphia.
Brittany Gross, Interiors and Sustainability Coordinator, is a graduate of Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania with a Master of Environmental Design. Her experience working at the intersection of sustainability and interior design in a university setting makes her a perfect fit for VMA.
Dwight Hall Reopens At Yale University
In October, VMA joined the Yale University community for the rededication of the Dwight Hall Center for Public Service and Social Justice. Daniela Voith, a Yale alum, was the partner in charge of the building’s renovation, which created a series of flexible meeting rooms and offices to support the 75+ student-run service and advocacy groups. The historic chapel also received some minor renovations, including a new accessible entry.
New Website Coming Soon
We are proud to announce that a new VMA website will make its debut in Spring 2019. It will better communicate who we are as a firm by featuring more of the people behind our work and the philosophy we share, as well as a significantly expanded portfolio that captures the breadth and depth of our experience. For updates on when the new website will launch, follow VMA on social media.
Thorndale Farms Office Recognized with 2018 Palladio Award
Thorndale Farms, a private office complex in Millbrook, NY, has received a 2018 Palladio Award (New Design & Construction, Less Than 30,000 sf) from Traditional Building magazine. The Palladio Awards are the only national awards that recognize excellence in traditional architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and traditional craftsmanship. Thorndale, a collaboration with G.P. Schafer Architect, is a unique combination of institutional and residential styles; design elements include a glazed cupola, ample interior glazing, and contextually appropriate materials like clapboard siding and metal seamed roof.
The Lawrenceville School Occupies Abbott Dining Hall
One of VMA’s most transformative projects is substantially complete, and the results are stunning. Abbott Dining Hall was drastically renovated, inside and out; we raised the roof – literally – to create a vaulted dining room inside and redesigned the exterior to better integrate with the campus’s historic architecture. Clever details like brass medallions laid into the terrazzo floors reference school lore and history. The reinvigorated space better reflects the school’s commitment to providing the best possible living and learning environments for their students.
Philadelphia Youth Basketball and VMA Encourage Female Student Athletes
Daniela Holt Voith hit the court with the Philadelphia Youth Basketball HoopHers program as part of their “A Woman’s Word” series. She shared her experiences playing basketball in school and explained how the skills she developed as an athlete have helped her as an architect and businesswoman. HoopHers is an inclusive, female-based initiative that empowers young women to develop on- and off-court skills and that seeks to address the challenges female athletes face.
Christ Church Neighborhood House as a Precedent for Sacred/Civic
The Community Design Collaborative launched their next design challenge, Sacred Spaces/Civic Places, with an exhibition of inspirational precedent projects and Christ Church Neighborhood House was selected for inclusion. The challenge will seek to raise awareness of the challenges faced by faith communities stewarding historic properties, while promoting the use of innovative programming to keep these properties in the hands of their congregations. Neighborhood House is a very relevant success story: we worked with Christ Church to renovate and modernize the Neighborhood House, turning it into a welcoming “front door” for the church and its community.
Celebrating Staff Achievement
Two members of our senior staff have successfully pursued professional registration.
Rob Douglass, Senior Associate, and David Halter, Associate, have both achieved AIA (American Institute of Architects) and NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) accreditation. It reflects their hard work, dedication to the profession, and commitment to architectural excellence – and we could not be more proud!
Rob is especially skilled at the design of educational environments, like the Kenneth Kai Tai Yen Humanities Building at The Pennington School, and has presented on the topic at several national conferences. David’s work has focused on the performing arts, like the Simpson Center for the Performing Arts at The Baldwin School.
VMA Presents “Every Inch a Learning Space” at NBOA 2018
Senior Associate Rob Douglass joined Graeme McWhirter, CFO at The Pennington School, at the NBOA Annual Conference 2018 to present best practices on making “Every Inch a Learning Space.” Rob explored case studies from the VMA portfolio, like the Kenneth Kai Tai Yen Humanities Building at Pennington and the Simpson Center for the Performing Arts at The Baldwin School. Graeme described the impact the school’s built environment has had on recruitment, retention, and learning outcomes. The conference provides independent school business officers and other administrators with professional development through a variety of topics; this year’s theme was “In Tune with Excellence.”
VMA Continues to Grow
We’re pleased to welcome three new additions to the VMA staff.
Matt Phan, Project Designer, a recent graduate of The University of Buffalo. He spent 10 weeks last summer living in Tokyo, Japan before coming back to receive his Dual Master’s Degree in Architecture and Fine Arts. Outside of VMA, Matt spends his time character illustrating and watching films.
Hunter Faddis, Interiors Intern, a senior in Thomas Jefferson University’s Interior Design program. He loves cooking, gardening, and anything outdoors. Hunter plans on doing a lot of travelling in his life; he already visited 13 countries in the last year!
Courtney Mathis, Communications Coordinator, a recent graduate of Moore College of Art & Design. Originally from rural New Jersey, Courtney has enjoyed living in Philadelphia for the past two years. She is an avid book reader and cookie baker (and eater).
And we’re still hiring – check out our current openings here.
VMA Instagram Features #TalentTuesday
If you’ve been following VMA on Instagram, you’ve seen Daniela Voith’s weekly #TalentTuesday posts, each of which has featured a different staff member and his/her extracurricular talent. We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the beautiful watercolors, impressive sculptural installations, and delicious loaves of bread that have been featured thus far – stay tuned for more talents in 2018.
Stewart Student Center Wins For Construction Excellence
Episcopal High School’s LEED Certified Stewart Student Center has received a 2017 Excellence in Construction Award in Historical Restoration from Associated Builders and Contractors of Metro Washington & Virginia. Replacing some of the former gymnasium’s heavy brick bays with new glazed infill panels redefined the building by allowing light to fill the space, while new accessible entries ensure it can be used and appreciated by the entire campus community. Thank you to the team at Davis Construction who helped bring our design to life.
Performing Arts Center at Villanova University Breaks Ground
VMA joined Father Peter and other representatives from Villanova University to celebrate the groundbreaking of their new Performing Arts Center, part of the ongoing Lancaster Avenue development. The celebration included student performances and remarks from Father Peter, the University President. The project, a collaboration with Robert A.M. Stern Architects, has involved an extraordinary effort from the entire team and we hope you’ll join us in congratulating them on this important milestone.
New Year, New Roles
We’re pleased to announce the promotions of four VMA staff members:
Sennah Loftus, LEED AP BD+C, to Associate Principal: Sennah is one of our most experienced project managers and has been with VMA since 2000. She is especially skilled at managing complex phased renovations, as seen at Episcopal High School (Alexandria, VA) and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Rob Douglass, LEED AP BD+C, to Senior Associate: Rob, an expert in educational design, has been with VMA since 2005. He recently presented on his work at The Pennington School at this year’s National Business Officers Association (NBOA) annual conference.
David Halter, Assoc. AIA, LEED GA, to Associate: David joined VMA in 2011 and, in addition to his design work, also coordinates the office’s IT support. He has a particular affinity for theater design, and is currently working on the Villanova University Performing Arts Center.
Rob Duke to Associate: Rob spent several years working for primarily residential architects before joining VMA in 2015. His attention to detail has served him well on the Villanova University Lancaster Avenue Student Housing project, which has been his primary focus.
All four consistently demonstrate VMA’s dedication to collaborative teamwork and quality design. Congratulations!
Kim Wajda Celebrates 20 Years at VMA
Kim Wajda, VMA Business Manager, has been an integral part of VMA since she started with us in 1998. She is responsible for most of the “behind the scenes” work that allows us to stay focused on our client’s needs, and is a consistent contributor to our success as a firm. We appreciate her enduring loyalty and are pleased to celebrate her career milestone!
Cameron Mactavish Inaugurated as President of the Carpenters' Company
VMA founding partner Cameron Mactavish was inaugurated as president of The Carpenters’ Company of the City and County of Philadelphia on Monday, January 15, 2018. Cameron has been involved with the Company for over fifteen years and most recently served as a member of the Managing Committee. The Company, founded in 1724, supports a broad range of charitable and educational activities that encourage and promote the highest standards of craftsmanship. Please join us in congratulating Cameron on this well-deserved honor.
New Addition to the VMA Team
Kevin Rorabaugh is our newest architect designer at VMA. A graduate of Drexel University’s architecture program, he signed on at the start of the New Year. He enjoys travel and spent time in England last year, where he visited London and Bath – and found time for a stone carving class too. We are happy to have Kevin on the VMA team!