The Commons Opens at Villanova University
The campus evolution of Villanova University has taken a significant step forward with the grand opening of The Commons student housing, hallmark of the university’s multi-phased Lancaster Avenue improvements which also included a new parking garage, pedestrian bridge, and a Performing Arts Center still under construction. As architect of record for this transformational project, we joined university officials and project team members – including representatives from our design partner, Robert A.M. Stern Architects – for the ribbon cutting ceremony in August. Students are now in residence and the feedback has been enormously positive, with many visitors remarking that the buildings look “as if they have always been here” – which is exactly the effect that the university hoped to achieve!
Lawrenceville’s Abbott Dining Hall Wins IIDA Award
The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware Chapter has recognized Abbott Dining Hall at The Lawrenceville School with an Honorable Mention Award for Education/Institutional projects as part of their 15th Annual Interior Design Awards program. Brittany Gross and Hunter Faddis of the VMA interiors studio were part of the team on hand to accept the award. The inspiration behind the project was a desire to create a sense of “love and loyalty,” incorporating elements like wallpaper created from photos of the campus landscape, flags with symbols of each residential house, and symbols drawn from the school’s rich traditions and lore.
Welcome Yiran, Jordan, and Sayali
VMA continues to grow! We recently welcomed Yiran Zhao, Jordan Schrad, and Sayali Gudekar to our team.
Yiran, Draftsperson, is a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College and a talented artist. She looks forward to learning practical architectural skills and learning more about a project’s life cycle here at VMA.
Jordan, Draftsperson, recently graduated from the University of Notre Dame and is most looking forward to learning as much as he can about the design process. He is especially exited about working on college and university projects.
Sayali, Sustainable Design Specialist, worked as an architect on small-scale projects before returning to school and graduating with a Master of Science in Sustainable Design from Jefferson University. She is passionate about developing dynamic and efficient design solutions that are environmentally harmonious.
We are still actively seeking design professionals who share our philosophy of seeking innovation in the context of tradition and look forward to welcoming even more new faces to our office in the coming months.
VMA Presents “Classroom Trends” for NJAPPA and ERAPPA
John Cluver, Partner, and Sennah Loftus, Associate Principal, joined representatives from Rutgers University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School at the New Jersey Chapter of APPA (NJAPPA) Spring Meeting for a presentation and panel discussion on “Trends in Classroom Design & Technology.” After sharing different examples of learning environments that incorporated advanced technology in unique ways, the dialogue focused on how high-tech classrooms can help advance institutional goals and how facilities staff in particular were engaged during each project. The audience feedback was so positive that the session was presented again during a live webinar hosted by the Eastern Regional Chapter of APPA (ERAPPA), which was recorded and can be viewed via their YouTube Channel here.
Ryan and Kate Spend the Summer at VMA
Our staff were joined by two temporary additions this summer: Ryan Gebhart from and Kate Silber.
Ryan, an architectural student at the Catholic University of America with a strong interest in campus planning & design, contributed to several projects but said that his favorite was a feasibility study to adaptively reuse a historic building on a local university campus as a welcome center for prospective student athletes. He somehow also found time this summer to publish Hidden Within, the second book in his young adult fantasy series “Jewel of Life.”
Kate, a student at Haverford College, interned in our interior design studio and hopes to pursue a career in architecture upon graduation. In addition to coordinating furniture installations and other project logistics, she also contributed heavily to the staging of our intensive photoshoot at The Commons at Villanova University – a task very much in line with her personal interest in photography.
Both Ryan (far left) and Kate (far right) can be seen in the image above acting as “models” for the Villanova photoshoot. We appreciate all the hard work done by both of them over the summer and hope you’ll join us in wishing them all the best this Fall!
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 have been 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 – Developed our third consecutive campus plan for this long-term client (since 2003!) and are currently working on the first phase projects
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!
Daniela Voith Joins ICAA Philadelphia Chapter
In January, Daniela Voith officially joined the board of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art (ICAA). The chapter serves the Philadelphia region (including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware) with courses and lectures in drawing, history, and philosophy and held its inaugural Trumbauer Awards program in 2016. As a board member, Daniela especially looks forward to supporting the chapter’s educational programs by coordinating events and establishing partnerships with like-minded local organizations.
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.