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!
VMA 29th Annual Office Party
This year we celebrated VMA’S 29th annual office party. Guests included folks well-known in the A+D community. Show stoppers were a whole roasted pig and a live jazz band. We were thrilled with the turn out and are grateful for the opportunity to show our clients and fellow workers in the industry our appreciation; they help build VMA to make the firm what it is today. Thank you to all our guests for sharing a wonderful evening with us!
PEA's Stories From an Architect Features Discussion of the "Daniela" Table
On September 13, 2017, the Philadelphia Emerging Architect’s (PEA) discussion series featured a talk on the “Daniela” table. Daniela Holt Voith and Thos. Moser CEO Aaron Moser discussed the design and fabrication of this custom table for The Millbrook School Dining Hall. The discussion also covered the collaboration with Deep Landing Workshop for the project’s custom lighting fixtures. For more information, click here.
VMA Welcomes New Staff
2017 came equipped with new designs, new completed projects and new additions to the VMA family : Introducing the employees who are beginning a new journey with us! Winter gave us architect designer Ryan Dougherty and engineering intern Clayton Brandt. The spring and summer granted us with Marketing and Business Development Director Meaghan Finney and architectural designers Paul Zamorano and Kendra Nicolai. In the fall, VMA welcomed Communications Coordinator Anira Jones and designers Paul Lorenz and Anne Niedrach. We are happy to be expanding our team and in turn expanding our reach.
Syracuse University alum, with over a decade of architectural experience, Ryan Dougherty joined us at the start of the year. Ryan’s professional interest lies in detailed and innovative educational designs, specifically tech spaces, such as labs, and historic preservation. Outside of the design studio, he is a baker and loves it.
Clayton Brandt, a Haverford College alum who studied Growth and Structure of Cities (Architecture) with an interest in history and antiquities, once took Daniela Holt Voith’s studio at Bryn Mawr College. Since joining us earlier this year, his contributions have included model-making, 3D printing, renderings, and manning the website. Clayton enjoys the arts, is lead singer of the band Bazmati Vice, and likes to cook.
By way of Tulane School of Architecture, Paul Zamorano landed at VMA in the late spring. As an admirer of educational institution design and sustainability, he resonates with the focus of the firm. His favorite VMA project is the Mercer Museum, but he is also a big fan of our independent school and higher educational design work.
Meaghan Finney joined VMA as Marketing & Business Development Director in May following years of similar experience in the construction industry. Having a degree in historic preservation from The University of Pennsylvania, she feels a strong connection to the firm’s motto: innovation within the context of tradition. Meaghan remains active in preservation through her roles as co-chair of both the Young Friends of the Preservation Alliance and the AIA Philadelphia Historic Preservation Committee.
Columbia University and Virginia Tech alumna, Kendra Nicolai, joined our firm in June. She was introduced to Daniela Holt Voith by her brother. Having prior knowledge of the firm, Kendra admires the virtuous work VMA does. The focus on sustainability, preservation and education coincides with some of her prior work with homeless shelters. Her interests lie in crafting, and she is a watercolor painter.
Paul Lorenz came on board in October as an architect designer. With his master’s in architecture from Yale University, Paul has a passion for the collaborative and innovative work in which VMA specializes. His MFA in studio sculpture will come in handy as he works on future projects that involve interacting with different materials.
A Villanova graduate and Philadelphia native, Anira Jones signed on as our Communications Coordinator. With experience in marketing, public relations and social media management, she will bring her skill set to our firm as we expand our outreach and build on our social media presence. New to architecture, her professional background is heavily suited in the fashion industry with interest in fashion design and styling. Anira came to us fashionably late in the year, in November.
Our most recent new hire, Anne Niedrach studied architect at Drexel University. Enrolled in the 2+4 program, she worked as an architect while earning her degree/accreditation. Her previous design experience focused on affordable housing, and her first experience of educational design, was for a project at Bryn Mawr College. Admiring the work VMA does, Anne will add her technical talents to the craftsmanship and established work of our designers. She rides a motorcycle, and loves to bake mini sized pastries.
Diving Into Immersive Classrooms
Sennah Loftus and representatives from Rutgers University spoke at the 2017 ERAPPA Conference about our experience designing synchronous immersive classrooms that allow one professor to teach in two classrooms simultaneously. To reduce student travel time to and from classes, this project created two interlinked full-immersion classrooms on separate campuses. The effect of the immersive synchronous classroom is achieved by projecting, or ‘throwing,’ a visual of the teacher & instruction content to an audience located in a remote classroom. This audience, in the ‘catch’ classroom, is in turn displayed on screens in the ‘throw’ classroom. By way of cameras, large format screens, and effective audio systems, technology gives the presenter the ability to experience the distance audience and to engage, acknowledge, and call upon remote students in real time, creating a truly integrated classroom experience that has reduced student travel time by up to 50%.
VMA Visits Villanova University
There was a lot of excitement around our visit to the in-progress Lancaster Avenue Student Housing project at Villanova University, one of the firm’s highest-profile current projects. The firm’s project team led a tour of the buildings and of the recently-completed Lancaster Avenue Pedestrian Bridge. VMA is also engaged in the design of the new Performing Arts Center, which will soon be rising on an adjacent site.
Vassar College Noyes House Featured in APT Special Issue
The recent APT Bulletin, a special issue focused on the preservation of modernist structures and the challenges that work presents, included a study on our recent project at Vassar College’s iconic Eero Saarinen-designed Noyes House. “The Lightest Touch: Repairing Custom Mid-century Windows with a Limited Budget,” authored by John Cluver, discusses the firm’s approach to the large-scale repair & replacement of the building’s chevron-shaped windows.
Educational Interior Design
Daniela Holt Voith and Sennah Loftus shared their educational interior design expertise at NeoCon East in VMA’s hometown of Philadelphia. The presentation, “Use Every Inch in Educational Environments,” was originally presented at NeoCon 2017 and explained how to maximize learning space through creative design solutions. Specific topics included seeking flexibility through furnishings and how to integrate programmed space into “dead areas” like hallways and stairwells.
A New "Intersection" At Penn State Abington
This summer, VMA refreshed the student lounge & activity area at Penn State’s Abington campus, better aligning the space with the school’s focus on enriching the student overall experience. Full-height windows were added to the adjacent corridor and its exterior wall to bring in more natural light, and a vibrantly colorful paint scheme further brightens the space. A combination of fixed and flexible furniture offers a variety of seating for events like movie nights, acoustic performances, club meetings, or study groups.
Penn Law Review & Journal Improvements
Continuing our long-term partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Law School, we recently completed the interior renovation of the Law Review and Law Journal suites. The reconfigured space now includes several small-group collaboration rooms, a conference room (outfitted with the “Daniela” table by Thos. Moser) for larger meetings, and a variety of individual work stations. The overall design is vibrant and contemporary, while still referencing the stereotypical leather & wood finishes of an “old school” law firm office.
WCU Holds Ribbon Cutting For New Business School Building
VMA joined West Chester University’s celebration of the new College of Business & Public Management building. The facility combines flexible classrooms with informal lounge areas to encourage collaborative group work as well as spontaneous interaction (click here for more details). School officials say the building has positively impacted their ability to teach, and that students from all over campus visit the building to study and socialize.
VMA Takes Instagram By Storm
When Daniela Holt Voith became the “lens” of the VMA Instagram account in May, we didn’t expect to gain over 500 followers in less than six months – but we did! We’re thrilled at the overwhelmingly positive response to our presence on the platform and continue exploring innovative new ways to use it. Big thanks to our current followers. If you’re not already, follow VMA today!
Innovative Learning At Meckler Library
The Pennington’s School Meckler Library is complete in time for the start of the new school year. The library was restructured to accommodate Pennington’s strong specialized learning program and to respond to shifting expectations for libraries in contemporary academics. Major changes included an isolated study/special collections room with archival-quality cabinetry to protect and display the school’s eminent collection of signed first-edition literature, and a new ‘Tech’ classroom outfitted with modern workstations and interactive projection systems. Our renovations to Meckler also accomplished one of the school’s longest standing goals to introduce eight new Communication Skills classrooms for the expanded learning center faculty, who teach in single-student classrooms. The renewed and improved library creates spaces that properly serve the individualized needs of the students and gives the school flexibility to meet new challenges in the years to come.
Educational Design For "Generation Z": VMA at NeoCon 2017
How can today’s educational designs best serve millennial students while efficiently programming every inch of available space? That was the challenge addressed by Daniela Holt Voith, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP BD+C, at her presentation at NeoCon 2017 in Chicago this week. Daniela used examples from VMA’s recent educational projects, like the Kenneth Kai Tai Yen Humanities Building at The Pennington School, to make the case that contemporary educational design must be collaborative, tech-friendly, and multi-functional.
Celebrating the Thos. Moser "Daniela" Table
Employees & supporters of VMA joined the Thos. Moser team at their Philadelphia showroom to celebrate the table’s official debut as well as the longstanding relationship between the two firms. We also celebrated the “Daniela” trestle table, inspired by Daniela Holt Voith of Voith & Mactavish Architects. The piece, made of solid wood with a flip-top and custom base, was originally crafted as part of a new VMA-designed dining facility for The Millbrook School (click here for more information).
New Business College Earns LEED Gold Certification
Hooray! West Chester University’s new Business College received LEED Gold certification. Some of the award- winning features include a state of the art storm water management system, diversion of 80% of construction waste from landfills and utilization of recycled resources in 15% of the building’s materials. Additionally, regional materials were specified, restricting material transport within a 500 mile radius. Yet another example of VMA’s Gold Standard commitment to design innovation. Congratulations Team.
New Office Suites at Penn Law
Over Spring Break, The Penn Law Review and The Journal of Law and Social Change moved into their newly renovated office suites. Both new offices feature a variety of collaborative and shared office spaces as well as individual work stations. While the elegant Penn Law Review suite was inspired by fostering teamwork through collaborative spaces and new meeting rooms, JLASC desired vibrancy and new energy through a contemporary interior and cheerful green furnishings.
21 Women-Led Architecture and Landscape Architecture Firms in Philly
On April 5th, Curbed Philadelphia featured an article celebrating 21 women-led architecture and landscape architecture firms throughout Philadelphia. Of the 21 firms mentioned, Voith & Mactavish Architects made the list. Author, Melissa Romero emphasized the firm’s extensive experience in designing education institutions and a 2014 interview with Philly.com where Daniela recounted overcoming barriers in her field through the game of basketball.
Kappa Spring Meeting Presentation With West Chester University President Dr. Chris Fiorentino
Thank you for your support! Cameron J. Mactavish & Dr. Chris Fiorentino presented “Honoring the Past While Embracing the Future: A Bold New Business College Comes to Campus” to West Chester University’s new Business College at the KAPPA Spring Meeting. Chris and Cameron shared many stories about the challenges and successes of designing the new business school.
New Thos. Moser "Daniela" Table
It’s here! The new custom flip top Daniela Trestle Table by Thos. Moser in collaboration with VMA’s Daniela Voith.