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.
Restoring the Emma Hartman Noyes House
This past November, Partner John Cluver presented at the national conference Association for Preservation Technology International (APT). As part of the Revisiting Mid-Century Modern track, Cluver discussed affordable preservation of mid-century modern projects. In his presentation entitled “The Lightest Touch: Repairing Custom Mid-Century Windows with a Stock Budget,” Cluver explained how VMA, in partnership with Vassar, restored custom chevron windows at the historical Emma Hartman Noyes House at Vassar College. Designed by Eero Saarinen and built in 1958, the windows faced chronic leaking which was resolved through the selective replacement of several key elements, but retained the integrity of the original design.
Cluver Expounds the Art of Hand Drawing
In October, Partner John Cluver presented at The Art of Architecture conference at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. In his presentation, “The Art and Craft of Hand Drawing in Historic Preservation”, Cluver explored the dynamism of construction drawings of century-old buildings and how this is reflected in contemporary preservation projects. Central to his discussion was the value of hand drawings through the combination of their utilitarian nature and their timeless beauty.
Delightful Acquaintances In Washington for NBOA 2017
We were happy to see old friends and make new ones at the 17th annual NBOA conference in Washington DC. We were honored to have the opportunity to present with the Pennington School on ‘The Tech-Simple Classroom.’
Phase 1 of Villanova Complete
December marked the end of Phase 1 for Villanova University’s Lancaster Avenue Housing project which comprised of construction of a 1500 car parking garage. Phase 2 signals the commencement of the new dorms which will increase Villanova’s residential capacity by 26%. The new design which encompasses the coined “Villanova Gothic” esthetic, will allow Villanova to house a total of 85% of the undergraduate student body. In conjunction with the new parking facilities, the new residential project will significantly reduce on-campus traffic while increasing a sense of community; a value on which the University is predicated.
VMA Wins AIA Connecticut 2016 People's Choice Award
In addition to the 2016 AIA Connecticut Design Award for The Grange, VMA won the 2016 AIA Connecticut People’s Choice Award. This unprecedented dual honor celebrated the accomplishments of The Grange at the Hotchkiss School for its educational, technical and design innovation. The 2016 People’s Choice Award acknowledges VMA’s The Grange as a “Place That Creates a Sense of Peacefulness.” Congratulations VMA!
Developing Turrell's Detroit Skyspace
With the turn of the new year, James Turrell’s Detroit Skyspace project is garnering support and gathering momentum. Principal Cameron Mactavish recently discussed plans over dinner with the artist and project commissioner Mark Schwartz. Conceived in collaboration with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, the Detroit Skyspace at Gabriel Richard Park, aims to begin construction in the Spring. This unprecedented installation will positively impact the surrounding community through aiding youth and be a harbinger of the city’s cultural and economic renaissance.
Thos. Moser at Millbrook
In addition to the dazzling chandeliers and picturesque landscapes framed by classical bay windows, the custom Thos. Moser tables at the new Millbrook Dining Hall take center stage. The new Millbrook Dining Hall features signature custom flip-top tables designed by Thos. Moser in collaboration with Principal Daniela Holt Voith. Last fall, Daniela visited the Portland, Maine based furniture workshop to both design and try her hand at the full scale mock-up of these unique pieces. The result? The Millbrook Dining Hall, the hearth of the campus, continues its school legacy of excellence, beauty and timeless tradition.
VMA Wins AIA Connecticut's 2016 Design Award
Voith & Mactavish Architects LLP was honored with the 2016 AIA Connecticut Design Award for The Grange at Fairfield Farm at the Hotchkiss School. Completed October 2015, The Grange is an education center in Lakeville, Connecticut that culminates outdoor learning, the values of farm to table living and cohesive community. Of the jury’s many commendations, the jury states “Among all the projects using the vernacular tradition, this seemed the most appropriate for its purpose and setting. The details of the porch create a memorable image for educational use; the barnlike section for storage, light and ventilation. It is traditionally inspired but technologically modern” Well done team! Here’s to another year of design excellence.
The 111 Navy Chair
How do you save 23 million plastic bottles, and counting, from landfills? The answer…Emeco’s 111 Navy Chair in partnership with Coca Cola. Each chair is made with 111 20 oz. plastic bottles and transforms “disposable” plastic into an object of lasting beauty and design. VMA has featured the 111 Navy Chair in projects such as the Millbrook School Girl’s Dormitory (Left) and The Barn at Millbrook (Center). The Navy Chair, which is used in the Schuylkill Conference room at the home office of Voith & Mactavish Architects, has been featured by Emeco in their collection archive for the past two years (Right). Emeco’s 111 Navy Chair is one of the many ways VMA is committed to traditional yet innovative design that safeguards the inherently parallel legacies of the natural and built environment.
A New Business College for West Chester University
Construction of the new West Chester University Business College was completed this past December. Features of the new Business College include, collaborative classroom seating, break-out work spaces in hallways and a welcoming lobby complete with cozy lounge seating. The elegant yet innovative design, takes cues from the university’s collegiate gothic architecture with double pointed archways framing the entrance, a two story central bay and buttresses. This traditional narrative is complimented by contemporary features such as an inset glass framed entrance and a thee story glass bay framing the elegant central staircase. The new Business College is a fusion of the old and the new, creating a dynamic home for both engaged study and collaboration.
A New Meeting Hall for Millbrook
This January, after months of renovations and final touches from our talented architecture and interiors team, The Millbrook School celebrated the re-opening of Prum Hall. For decades, Prum Hall underserved the community’s dining needs. However, with the overwhelming success of the campus’s new dining hall, also designed by VMA, Prum has been re-born as a center for formal community gatherings. Renamed the Prum Meeting Hall, Millbrook was thrilled to welcome parents for their annual College Workshop luncheon early February. Key to the new design, was maintaining the traditional Millbrook aesthetic and creating a thoughtful fusion of the old and the new.
New Team Additions
This winter, VMA welcomes new staff members for the start of the new year. Ryan Dougherty joins us from Rochester New York and earned his Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University. He enjoys riding his bike, playing the guitar and spending time with his 3 year old son. Ryan joins the VMA team as our newest Project Manager. Additionally, this January, Clayton Brandt joins the office from the Department of Growth and Structure of Cities at Haverford College. As part of his Praxis field work, Clayton will assist the team with both rendering and model making. In the future Clayton hopes to develop his passion for design, Architecture and music. From all of us at VMA, Ryan and Clayton Welcome!
TABS Conference 2016
The Association for Boarding Schools (TABS) annual conference was held earlier this December in Washington DC. VMA attendees included Principle Daniela Voith, Senior Associate Sennah Loftus, and Associate Robert Douglas. VMA hosted a table at the conference which boasted a sporting new banner, and attended professional development workshops. The conference was a resounding success as VMA made new friends and new connections!
Completion of the Curtis
This past December, VMA celebrated the completion of their renovations on The Curtis. With a focus on the atrium, the historical space was transformed through new armatures, pilasters, and acoustical renovations. The Curtis, which takes cues from the Beaux-Arts style, primarily utilized red brick and white Vermont marble in the initial design. VMA preserved these building materials over the course of the restoration process. Four armatures, each befitted with a “C” at the apex, span the 57 foot atrium, calling to mind the wrought iron and glass ceilings of public passages in Italian and French cities. While the armatures sparkle with LED lights, the columns are washed with a soft light from the new sconces. These architectural components work together to combine the awe inspiring grandeur of the atrium, while increasing the quality of comfort in the space. The new amenities appeal to employees and visitors alike.
Jubilant Reception of New Episcopal High School Student Center
This past December construction of the new student center at Episcopal High School came to a close. Originally a student gymnasium built in 1912, the conversion features double height space, a new welcoming entrance and transparency to highlight activities both inside the building and on the athletics field outside. Students met VMA project managers with jubilant applause at the center’s opening celebration. Share the joy in the video link below.