2015

Winter 2015/16

Student Center here we come @ Episcopal School!

Demolition has begun on the 12,000 square foot Stewart Student Center at Episcopal High School to transform an existing 1913 gym. The renovated space will act as a central hub of community, including workspaces, a café, TV room, mail room, game tables, and the school store. Completion is scheduled for the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

VMA Hosts Interns as Part of our Outreach Program

With strong Bi-Co roots and five in-house Bryn Mawr and Haverford College alums, we were pleased to welcome two Growth and Structure of Cities students as interns during December. The interns were given a well-rounded experience through their contributions to physical and sketch-up models, renderings, and site visits.

Opening Night: Curtains Drawn at the New Theater for The Baldwin School

VMA was pleased to attend and celebrate the first recital for the opening of the newly constructed Simpson Center for Performing Arts in Honor of Louis Goutman. We were impressed by the theatrical performances and foresee astonishing future success for the performing arts students at The Baldwin School. The project transformed a 1970’s gymnasium into a flexible, multi-purpose theater to support the talent and education of the Baldwin creative youth.

Stanford White Award presented to VMA for Millbrook School’s Math & Science Center

Daniela Holt Voith, John Cluver, and Isabella Bartenstein attended the 2015 Institute of Classical Architecture’s Stanford White Awards in New York City. VMA was honored with an award in the Commercial, Civic, and Institutional Architecture category for the Frederic C. Hamilton Math & Science Center at Millbrook School. Congratulations to the project team and Millbrook School!

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Deliberations in Detroit- Skyspace and Friends School of Detroit

Cameron Mactavish participated in a design charrette with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and renowned artist James Turrell for a public art project named “Detroit Skyspace”. While still in the Motor City, he made an additional stop at the Friends School in Detroit to engage in a discussion about the re-opening and re-visioning of Michigan’s only Quaker school.

VMA Discusses their Architectural Philosophy

Daniela Holt Voith and Cameron Mactavish presented “Present and Future: Innovation within the Context of Tradition” at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia during the Roger W. Moss Symposium. During the talk, Daniela and Cameron discussed their architectural education and how it set a philosophical background for the work of Voith & Mactavish Architects LLP. Daniela and Cameron outlined the Philadelphia of 1988 they faced at the founding of the firm, and how the city has evolved and improved since. They also noted their favorite architectural landmarks in Philadelphia and how these places have influenced their work.

New Senior Associates and Associates at VMA

We are proud to announce new Senior Associates and Associates. Sennah Loftus, LEED AP, and Robert Piasecki, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, are now VMA’s Senior Associates. Fauzia Sadiq Garcia, AIA, LEEP AP BD+C and Robert Douglass, LEED AP BD+C are now Associates. Congratulations Sennah, Fauzia, and Robs!

VMA presents on Flexible & Collaborative Classrooms

VMA Senior Associates, Sennah Loftus and Robert Piasecki presented at the Delaware Conference & Trade Show. The conference features cross-discipline exploration, social events, and networking for design and building professionals to gain a deeper knowledge of practices and products. Sennah and Rob’s interactive presentation titled “Trends in Classroom Design & Technology”, demonstrated that traditional lecture-style classrooms no longer dominate the typology, but are now used in conjunction with flexible, case study, and collaborative classrooms. Co-presenters were Larry McIntyre of Acentech, and Matthew Stocum, Associate Director of Technology of Drexel University.

Conversations with Philadelphia’s Radical Traditionalists: “The Offices”

Cameron Mactavish along with co-presenters Angelo Alberto and Stephen M. Bonitatibus, participated in a lively panel discussion presented by Institute of Classical Architecture & Art titled, “Conversations with Philadelphia’s Radical Traditionalists: “The Offices”, concerning the lineage of traditional architecture at the Franklin Inn Club in Philadelphia. Conversation included stories about the good old days before computer assisted design. Drafting was once concerned with how to correctly cast shadows, grade watercolor washes, and pen line weights. Overall, the discussion centered on the importance of maintaining an architectural lineage, and the exchange of vital knowledge from one generation to the next through mentorship.

10th Anniversary: A Big One for Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Congratulations to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute for reaching 10 years of success as a film and theater institute! The Institute has made outstanding contributions to both the Bryn Mawr and film communities since its inception. VMA is proud to have played a part in the restoration of the BMFI, allowing it to better serve its mission, and see it flourish.

Read more about the history between VMA and the Bryn Mawr Film Institute.

New Team Additions

VMA welcomed three new staff members to the office in the first quarter of the year. Jeffrey Peters joins us with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from Drexel University where he was a finalist in The Michael Pearson Architecture Prize. Markisha Evans joins our office with a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and will be assisting with marketing and communications. Brandon Robilotti is a Haverford College graduate who will assist our team with marketing efforts and proposals.

Melding Farm-To-Table into Student Curriculum

Daniela Holt Voith; Drew Castertano, Headmaster of Millbrook School, and Josh Hahn, Assistant Head of School at The Hotchkiss School, presented at The Association of Boarding Schools conference “Farm to Table: Food in the Boarding Community Residential & Student Life.” The talk explored how to grow, store, process, prepare, and serve food in a sustainable manner in a boarding school community and how to actively engage students through curriculum. Drew and Josh both spoke about their respective school’s efforts to farm, and procure local and seasonal food, encourage students’ awareness and participation, and provide great experimental learning opportunities.

Fall 2015

Re-Imagining Church Farm School

As Church Farm School (CFS) approaches their centennial, VMA was selected to develop a master plan to align campus objectives and goals, while further reinforcing their mission.  The CFS master plan was approved by the West Whiteland Township Historical Commission. The Preliminary Land Development Application (PDLA) was approved by the township, solidifying the master plan. Church Farm School’s top priorities include the reorientation of the main entrance of campus, creation of a more dynamic and prominent entry to the main academic and administrative building, bringing all faculty housing on campus, a new Student Center and the creation of a consolidated Arts Center.

Grassroots Work for Philadelphia Youth Basketball

We are proud to support the initiatives of the non-profit Philadelphia Youth Basketball (PYB) and their goal to create a basketball safe haven in the Logan section of Philadelphia. This organization plans to positively impact the lives of youth in areas of education and engagement. Our backing of this project includes pro-bono site selection and architectural services. We hope to help create a space which supports the mission of PYB.

Read more about the PYB here

Good Times: VMA Annual Office Party & Kayaking in the Schuylkill

On Thursday, November 19th, clients, colleagues, friends, and family joined VMA at our annual office party. Despite the rainy weather, VMA and guests enjoyed great food, conversation, jazz, and swing dancing! On a bright, early autumn morning VMA headed down to the Schuylkill River Park adjacent to our office and had lots of fun during a kayak photoshoot for our party invitation. The river’s current and our mediocre kayaking skills prevented us from forming VMA in the water. Abandoning this futile effort, we did our best to be photographed all together in view of the camera, smile without squinting, and raise our paddles without getting soaked.

A Letter to the Editor: Preserving the S.S. United States Ship

Moved by the story and legacy of the S.S. United States currently docked in the Delaware River, Cameron Mactavish wrote a letter to the editors of the Philadelphia Inquirer suggesting the unused ship be transformed into a peace ship, traveling around the world creating bridges of understanding between people of different nations. After this article was published, Cameron was invited to tour this historic ship.

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Summer 2015

VMA Welcomes New Summer Interns

This summer, VMA has welcomed several interns into our office. Three students represented Philadelphia, New York City, and Paris. The interns were able to experience being a part of an architectural office, create 3D renderings and models, attend site visits and meetings, and even support our office softball team. We were sad to see them go, and hope to one day have them back in the office!

Construction Begins at Villanova University!

Villanova University’s dynamic plan to reinvigorate campus life has recently started construction. Replacing two massive surface parking lots directly on Lancaster Avenue, the project consists of new residence halls for over a 1,000 students with student-oriented retail and activity spaces, a Performing Arts Center, a five-level parking garage, and a pedestrian bridge over Lancaster Avenue. In addition to providing much needed on-campus housing for existing students, community benefits will include storm water management, and improved vehicular traffic patterns. All of the buildings are projected to be LEED certified and will incorporate a variety of measures to provide energy savings. This project is in association with Robert A. M. Stern Architects.

Breaking Bread Together at new Dining Hall for Millbrook School

Construction has begun at Millbrook for a new dining hall. Since their enrollment has grown their existing dining hall no longer serves them well. The dining hall will form a courtyard with Millbrook School’s older dining hall, it will be restored allowing for more intimate dinners or meetings, while the new dining hall will seat the entire school population and support staff. The room will feature a high central volume with lower side isles, providing a variety of spaces, views, and seating options. The courtyard doors will allow students to conveniently eat outside if they so choose.

Head of School gets a newly renovated House at The Hotchkiss School

The Hotchkiss School opened the doors to an expanded and completely renovated Frank House, home to their head of school.  The 8,000 square foot structure was expanded by transforming the attic into a two bedroom guest suite now connected by an extension of the original formal stair.  The first floor was upgraded to better accommodate public functions and support catering efforts while completely revamping the family kitchen into a modern center of life at home. The living quarters also were revamped and include new baths, dressing rooms and a study in the master suite. VMA, in collaboration, with Executive Interiors was responsible for the interior decoration of all of the public rooms looking to express the history of the school through artifact and color while demonstrating the school's commitment to sustainability through the use of innovative lighting and the reuse of school furniture and carpets. 

Spring 2015

TRIP TO MILAN: “Salone del Mobile Milano” Furniture Fair

VMA attended the worldwide-renowned “Salone del Mobile Milano” furniture exhibition in Milan, Italy for the third time. Started in 1920 as a way to showcase Italian made furniture and products, the annual event is now the place to view, discuss, and test out the latest and greatest of interior design offerings. With over 85 acres of exhibit halls, VMA brings the gained knowledge back home to confidently recommend furniture and products to our clients - because we have tested them out first hand!

The Hotchkiss School opens Farm-To-Table Building

“The Grange” opened in Spring 2015. The farm building is the latest addition to the Fairfield Farm Ecosystems and Adventure Team (FFEAT), a program that provides immersion in nature while instilling a sense of responsibility for natural resources on a local and global scale. FFEAT allows students to actively participate in planting, nurturing, and harvesting food that will be stored and processed in the new building. Their goal is to provide 60 percent of the produce served in the dining hall raised on their organic farm. The building embodies the goals of The Hotchkiss School’s Environmental Initiatives.

Bryn Mawr Film Institute is an Urban Land Institute Award Finalist

The Bryn Mawr Film Institute has been selected as a finalist for the 2015 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Philadelphia second annual Willard G. “Bill” Rouse III Awards for Excellence. The awards acknowledge outstanding projects completed within the last five years with fifteen finalists chosen by a jury of distinguished ULI members. The awards also honors the late Bill Rouse, founder and chairman of the board of Liberty Property Trust and a philanthropist who loved Philadelphia.

Daniela Holt Voith reappointed as Senior Lecturer at Bryn Mawr College

Congratulations to Daniela Holt Voith on being reappointed for a six-year term as Senior Lecturer in the Growth and Structure of Cities Department at Bryn Mawr College. Daniela has taught within the department since 1984 offering two studios per year in architectural design and advising of senior design theses. She is an alumnae of the program, and was, in fact, the first person to enroll as a Growth and Structure of Cities major in the fall of 1971.

“Lazy River Out, Social/Study Areas In: Trends in Student Housing Design and Architecture”

VMA attended the 2015 Interface Student Housing Conference in Austin, TX. At the conference, Cameron Mactavish, alongside four fellow leaders in the student housing design industry discussed what makes university student housing projects successful in today’s market during a panel titled: “Lazy River Out, Social/Study Areas In: Trends in Student Housing Design and Architecture.” Cameron also spoke during the “Hot Projects Development Showcase”, detailing how these trends helped shape two, very different student housing projects at West Chester University.

Preserving an Iconic Theater

John Cluver presented the story of the Bryn Mawr Film Institute as part of the Lower Merion Conservancy’s Historic Preservation Lecture Series. John outlined the origins of the 1920s theater, originally known as the Seville Theater, and the rehabilitation of the theater into an independent Film Institute with the second largest membership base in the country.

Dissecting Classroom Design & Technology at SCUP

Senior Associates, Sennah Loftus and Robert Piasecki presented “Trends in Classroom Design & Technology” at the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) conference. The interactive seminar demonstrated that traditional lecture-style classrooms no longer dominate the typology, but are now used in conjunction with flexible, case study, and collaborative classrooms. They presented case studies to illustrate these evolving pedagogical goals and instructional technologies, their integration into the architecture, and resulting 21st century learning environments. Co-presenters were Larry McIntyre of Acentech, and Matthew Stocum, Associate Director of Technology of Drexel University.

Steeling Topping Off at West Chester University’s Business and Public Management Center

West Chester University's new Business and Public Management Center is under construction and placed its final steel beam on Friday, April 17th. The celebration took place at the site of the new center where design team members and University officials signed the last remaining beam. It was then hoisted and fastened to the top of what will be the new business hub of West Chester University. Make sure to check back for updates on the project and to visit once completed. This project is in association with Moody Nolan.