Category: Community

Inspiring Future Engineers

Ballinger was a sponsor of the annual Philadelphia Region Future City Competition, an educational engineering program for middle-school students to imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future. This year’s theme, “Designing a Waste-Free City,” challenged students to imagine a city built on the principles of a circular economy.

Part of a national initiative to engage students in STEM, the Philadelphia program culminates in an event judged by professional engineers. Volunteer judges gathered on Zoom to listen to budding engineers in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades present their cities.

Drexel Hill Middle School was the proud recipient of the “Walter Ballinger Hope for the Future Award,” made possible by Ballinger’s financial contribution to the event. Features like water purification nanobots, waste removal tubes and a high tech communication system inspired judges. The innovative and environmentally-friendly design of the city aligns with Ballinger’s aspirations for the future.

Ballinger Donates Over 6,000 Meals to Philabundance

In the final months of 2021 Ballinger’s community group, B:Engaged, compiled a collection of staff recipes into a digital cookbook to inspire holiday meals and encourage donations to a virtual food drive. Proceeds go to Philabundance, the largest hunger-relief non-profit organization in the Delaware Valley. Together we’re donating over 6,000 meals to people in need.

Download the 2021 cookbook

Ballinger Senior Principal Sponsors Interdisciplinary Collaborative Studio at Kansas State University

Committed to furthering the studies of architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design students at his alma mater Kansas State University, Louis A. Meilink Jr., FAIA, FACHA, ACHE, sponsored a semester-long course aimed at establishing real-world experience for students and a healthier community for residents. The studio concept was developed and led by Kendra Kirchmer, IDSA, Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture & Industrial Design.

The course, Interdisciplinary Collaborative Studio, Vital Design: Denver, introduced cross-disciplinary opportunities for students while identifying the ways social determinants impact overall health. Throughout the semester, students were tasked with answering the following questions:

  • What is health and what does it mean to be healthy?
  • How does the built environment impact health through its quality as well as the ways it shapes the behaviors of groups and individuals?
  • How can design prioritize equity, inclusion, increased opportunity, quality-of-life, and good health for all?

Teams used this initial research and analysis to identify and define their project type and scope. The semester-long studio was based on an interdisciplinary and collaborative design structure to engage students within Kansas State University’s College of Architecture, Planning, and Design. The course encouraged group members to participate in all facets of design while utilizing their specific skill set to develop designs that explore strategies and solutions for creating healthier and more equitable cities and neighborhoods.

With the support of Lou, students had the opportunity to travel to Denver to examine their design theories, test their assumptions, and finalize site selection and documentation. Students presented their final projects this week.

Sustainability at American University’s Hall of Science

The sciences are currently the fastest-growing area of undergraduate study. After American University’s College of Arts and Sciences faculty grew their research funding by more than 100% and received over 50 awards from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, the university wanted to create a space dedicated to expanding their scientific research. With the goal of unifying their Life Sciences programs under one roof, Ballinger transformed a former parking lot on American’s campus into a state-of-the-art facility that encourages interdisciplinary interaction in a sustainable environment.

In order to support generations of American University STEM students, Ballinger’s architecture, engineering, interior design, and lab planning teams designed a facility as innovative as the research it supports. The building’s envelope, efficient ventilation, sustainable design strategies contribute to its LEED Gold certification, reflecting the university’s environmental stewardship as the nation’s first carbon-neutral campus.

The three-story, 123,000 square foot Hall of Science is home to the departments of biology, environmental science, chemistry, and neuroscience. The building and its amenities were designed to support collaborative work and provide plenty of space for students to gather and study and the common areas throughout the building encourage interdisciplinary interaction and encourage partnerships. Learn more about the building’s design and environmental initiatives and watch a time-lapse of the construction.

The Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity Opens

The Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity (ASHE) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, October 27, and officially opened its doors on Wednesday, November 3. Located in the Deliverance Evangelistic Church on Lehigh Avenue in North Philadelphia, ASHE’s goal is to offer equal healthcare to all, specifically underserved communities in Philadelphia.

The Black Doctors Consortium, founded as The Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium by Dr. Ala Stanford in April 2020, provides care at the clinic to all patients, infants to adults, and accepts all forms of insurance. “For us, it doesn’t matter what type of insurance you have or don’t have. You’re going to see the same people, you’re going to get the same level of care, and that’s what we plan to deliver for everyone who comes into the door,” Dr. Stanford said.

The primary care clinic includes eight exam rooms and three private behavioral health spaces and will offer a range of services, including adult and pediatric well check-ups, OB/GYN, and phlebotomy labs. A small team from Ballinger, led by Director of Healthcare Planning Christina Grimes, with Jonathan Friedan and Courtney Petrella, donated initial planning and design services for the healthcare facility. The group evaluated the existing layout and mechanical systems and presented design options to Dr. Stanford to create a permanent home for the group within the church.

Learn more about the Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity.

Photo courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Thomas Hengge, staff photographer).

DesignPhiladelphia Installation

Ballinger partnered with Brickworks Philadelphia, Hoffman Design Group and the International Masonry Institute to create an installation for the DesignPhiladelphia Festival, which kicks off Wednesday, October 6. Informed by the unique shapes of the Philadelphia skyline and built using locally sourced bricks, this installation invites visitors to explore the “old and new” urban relationships of this city.

“Our inspiration for the design concentrated around the juxtaposition of the city’s skyline and its interaction with the lower-rise built forms. Our team found this to be a unique characteristic of the city, where modern skyscrapers can be a short walking distance from an early historic dwelling. This clash of the two not only provides a visual identity, but it portrays the intertwined history of the city through its built form,” said Ballinger’s Adam Stott, who co-led the design.  

The installation will be at Cherry Street Pier through October 17.       

Ballinger Scholarship for Equity

Ballinger is proud to sponsor scholarships and mentorships aimed at enhancing access to education in the fields of architecture, interior design and engineering. The goals of the program are to equip students with the skills to succeed in our industry and to develop the pipeline of diverse professionals. The program is a component of Ballinger’s commitment to fighting racism and promoting justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Eligible applicants are students who are Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color. The program is designed to support students at several steps in their education, from the first year of college through graduation.

The First Year Scholarship is for students in their first year of college, pursuing a degree in architecture, interior design or engineering. The award includes two Ballinger mentors and an opportunity to shadow a professional in the awardee’s discipline of interest.
Link to eligibility requirements and application

The Transfer Scholarship is for students transferring from a community college or technical school who have been accepted into an accredited program in architecture, interior design or engineering. Recipients will receive a paid internship and two Ballinger mentors.
Link to eligibility requirements and application for architecture and interior design students
Link to eligibility requirements and application for engineering students 

The Final Year Scholarship is for students entering their last year of an accredited program in architecture, interior design or engineering. Recipients will receive a paid internship and two Ballinger mentors.
Link to eligibility requirements and application for architecture and interior design students
Link to eligibility requirements and application for engineering students 

Architects Declare

Ballinger is among over 300 architecture firms to declare a climate, justice, and biodiversity emergency. Environmental stewardship and energy utilization have always been fundamental to our firm and culture. As signatories, we reaffirm those values.

We’re proud to join Architects Declare in committing to:
• Raising awareness of climate and biodiversity emergencies
• Addressing the disproportionate impact of these crises on disadvantaged communities
• Including life cycle costing, whole-life carbon modeling, and post-occupancy evaluation in our work
• Upgrading existing buildings for extended use
• Advocating for detailed disclosure of material provenance and environmental impact
• Investing in research and technology
• Viewing climate change mitigation, biodiversity protection, and positive social impact as measures of success

Ballinger Volunteers with Courtyard Mentor Network

Ballinger architect Peter Elsbeck, AIA, LEED AP BD+C and designer Anastazja Krynska led a workshop for the Courtyard Mentor Network, a newly-formed community organization that introduces young men to career options and aides them in developing healthy relationship skills: essential tools for navigating a successful career.

The event was part of a weekly series supported by the Queen Village Neighbors Association where community members describe occupations, share professional and personal skills they have developed throughout their careers, and the characteristics of the healthy relationships they have formed along the way.

As part of this series, Peter and Ana described the profession of architecture and the training required to become an architect, as well as their roles at Ballinger and the how they do their work. They led an activity in which the boys drew floorplans of their future homes on architectural grid pads.

Learn more about the Courtyard Mentor Network

Ballinger Continues Support of Future City

Ballinger was a sponsor of the annual Philadelphia Region Future City Competition, an educational engineering program for middle-school students to imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future. Using the engineering design process as a framework, students design a city and describe it through an essay, a scale model, and a video. This year’s theme was Living on the Moon.  

Central Jersey College Prep received the “Walter Ballinger Hope for the Future Award” for Starling City, a lunar community with a greenhouse, electric power plant and a transportation system powered by friction collected from rubberized polymer.

Ballinger has been an annual sponsor of the competition since 2017, with the goal of enhancing interest in engineering and building the pipeline of diverse practitioners. 

Ballinger Donates Over 5,000 Meals

Recognizing that this Thanksgiving season looks different from previous years, Ballinger’s community engagement group, B::Engaged, found a way for colleagues to connect virtually and safely. The result is a Thanksgiving Cookbook containing staff members’ favorite recipes and a virtual food drive for Philabundance, a non-profit working to fight hunger in Philadelphia. Donations enabled Philabundance to provide 5,000 meals to people in need.

Preview the cookbook

Outdoor Learning Spaces Competition Aides Local Schools During the Pandemic

Ballinger is proud to continue our support of Philadelphia’s Community Design Collaborative and their recently-launched Design Assistance In Demand (AID) program, created to tackle the urgent needs brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. Design AID’s current focus is finding ways to safety return Philadelphia students to equitable, in-person learning.

To act on this focus, the Collaborative hosted a design competition seeking innovative and creative solutions for outdoor learning in a time of global crisis. Solutions are being compiled in a design guide that will serve as a resource for schools in Philadelphia and beyond.

Join the Design Competition Showcase October 1 via Zoom to learn more about the Collaborative’s exploration of outdoor learning spaces and to see Ballinger’s competition submission.

Fon Wang on “What Minerva Built”

The podcast “What Minerva Built” explores the work of Philadelphia architect Minerva Parker Nichols, the first female in the country to practice architecture independently. Penn researcher and podcast host Molly Lester interviewed Ballinger’s Director of Historic Preservation, Fon S. Wang, AIA, LEED AP, about Minerva’s career and legacy.

Listen to the 9-episode limited series here.

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Pro Bono Work Featured in Context

The spring 2020 issue of Context, AIA Philadelphia’s quarterly publication, includes a profile of CoLab Philadelphia. Ballinger was part of a volunteer team organized by the Community Design Collaborative that converted an airstream trailer into a mobile healthcare outreach tool. Recently the trailer was used as a mobile COVID-19 testing site.

Read more

Our Ballinger Community

Recent events have brought heightened focus on eliminating social injustice and providing dignity and respect for human life. Many Americans are protesting for positive change and improving our collective quality of life. We must commit ourselves to being a source of sensitivity and care at this time of uncertainty, as well as advocates for human rights always.

We dedicate ourselves to Ethical and Professional Conduct that binds us professionally to upholding human rights for all and using our knowledge and skill for the enhancement of human welfare. By our own code, it is unethical to adjoin ourselves to the service of those who would ask us to violate those principles.

As Architects, Engineers, and Designers we uphold the safety and well-being of people inhabiting our built environments. We pride ourselves on our expertise and apply our knowledge to solve difficult design and technical challenges. We can extend the same commitment to our craft by bringing innovative ideas and determination to the complex challenges facing our broader society. We can strive to build a more honest, safe, and equitable world.

Since 1878, Ballinger has been an active Philadelphia community leader with broad national reach. Let’s remain focused on a better and more just future… for every member of our local community and across the nation.

The Ballinger Leadership

Ballinger supports the Community Design Collaborative’s Leverage virtual event

The Community Design Collaborative held their annual fundraiser virtually on Thursday, raising over $105,000 to provide preliminary design services to local non-profit organizations.

The program included remarks from Ballinger Senior Principal Terry D. Steelman, FAIA and the Collaborative’s Interim Executive Director, Jenn Richard. This year’s Leverage Award honoree was Judee M. Bavaria, President Emeritus of Presby’s Inspired Life, who has been key to expanding and enrich­ing affordable senior housing in our region.

Over 200 attendees participated via Zoom, connecting Philadelphia’s architecture, engineering and construction community at a time when in-person events are prohibited, and the city is wrestling with economic unrest and disparity.

Ballinger is a corporate champion sponsor of the Collaborative and over 30 staff members have volunteered time on Collaborative projects. Past Leverage Award recipients include Ballinger’s Terry D. Steelman, FAIA; president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, Stephen K. Klasko, MD; and Connor Barwin, NFL player and founder of Make the World Better Foundation (MTWB).

Fon Wang on What Inspires Her

To celebrate National Historic Preservation Month, Philadelphia’s Preservation Alliance asked 31 historic preservation leaders to describe a building that inspires them. Ballinger’s Director of Historic Preservation, Fon S. Wang, AIA, LEED AP, wrote about her enduring affection for the Fleisher Art Memorial.

Link to article

Ballinger on the Structural Engineering Channel Podcast

Ballinger Principal and Chief Structural Engineer Angela M. Fante, PE, SECB, LEED AP was a guest on the Structural Engineering Channel, a podcast from the Engineering Management Institute. Co-hosts Mathew Picardal, PE and Alexis Clark, PE interviewed Angie about the structural engineering walking tour of St. Louis she recently developed with support from the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI). Angie researched and recorded the tour as a way to highlight and explain notable engineering achievements.

Listen to the podcast https://engineeringmanagementinstitute.org/tsec-22-structural-engineering-city-walking-tour-app/

Celebrating Women’s History

March is Women’s History Month and this year’s theme is “Valiant Women of the Vote.” Ballinger is proud to join in acknowledging the “the brave women who fought to win suffrage rights for women, and for the women who continue to fight for the voting rights of others.”

Ballinger is committed to supporting the continued advancement of women in the industry. In 2016 we implemented B::Flex, a formal program allowing employees to customize their work schedules. According to the Pew Research Center, among parents, women are much more likely than men to experience family-related career interruptions, and 51% of women report that being a working parent has made career advancement more difficult. A flexible schedule with the ability to work remotely helps women balance family responsibilities while excelling at work.

Highlighting our success in attracting, retaining and supporting women, Ballinger was recently recognized by Architect Magazine as among the “Biggest Movers in % of Women Designers.”

Listed among prominent peers, Ballinger was highlighted for a 22% increase in female designer employment from 2017 to 2018, representative of our firm’s effort to support the continued advancement of women in the industry.

Spark Mentorship Match Day

On February 27th, Ballinger volunteers will be paired with 7th grade students participating in Spark in Philadelphia, a non-profit program dedicated to helping middle schoolers achieve successful futures. Through one-on-one mentorships that include 9 weekly sessions at Ballinger, students will develop a project related to their career aspirations. By introducing students to our workplace environment and supporting them in completing a deadline-driven project, Ballinger volunteers are helping equip students with the skills for future success.

The mentorship culminates in Share Your Spark, an event where students and mentors present their projects – anything from working electrical circuits to marketing plans – to their colleagues, friends, families and the community.

Ballinger has supported Spark through donations and volunteerism since 2015, providing individual mentorships for over 25 students as well as hosting Spark Lab workshops for 20+ students each fall and participating in peer-to-peer fundraising. In 2018 Ballinger Associate Principal Sara Ridenour joined Spark’s Advisory Board and Ballinger designer Fränc Luu was recognized with Spark’s Veteran Mentor Award for his commitment to the program. In 2019 the Philadelphia Business Journal recognized Ballinger’s partnership with Spark in their annual Faces of Philanthropy round-up.

Ballinger Supports Future Innovators in STEM

Ballinger was a sponsor of the annual Philadelphia Region Future City Competition, an educational engineering program for middle-school students to imagine, research, design, and build cities of the future. Using the engineering design process as a framework, students develop a virtual city with SimCity, write an essay, build a scale model, and deliver a presentation. This year’s theme, which students had to incorporate into their cities, was providing a reliable water source for all citizens.

Part of a national initiative to engage students in STEM, the Philadelphia program culminates in a live event judged by professional engineers. Numerous volunteers gathered at Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor for the competition on January 18, including a group from Ballinger. Throughout the day, budding engineers in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades presented their cities to judges.

East Norriton Middle School was the proud recipient of the “Walter Ballinger Hope for the Future Award,” made possible by Ballinger’s financial contribution to the event. Their creative methods of sourcing water through desalination and fog capture, sustainable modes of transit via magnet trains, and care for their citizens’ health through music therapy won the award. The innovative and environmentally-friendly design of the team’s city connected to the firm-sponsored award’s goal of “hope for the future”.

Reflecting on a Year of B:ENGAGED

As 2019 comes to a close, we reflect on another successful year of B::Engaged. B::Engaged is a community engagement group at Ballinger that connects with and impacts Greater Philadelphia through long-term commitments and short-term volunteer work. Thank you to our staff members for their dedication and willingness to serve our community, our firm leaders for their support of B::Engaged, and our community partners for welcoming us and providing opportunities to give back. We look forward to a great 2020!

Ballinger Celebrates Giving Tuesday

Since 2012, Ballinger has been a Corporate Champion of the Community Design Collaborative, a local organization that provides pro bono preliminary design services to nonprofit organizations in greater Philadelphia, creates engaging volunteer opportunities for design professionals, and raises awareness about the importance of design in revitalizing communities.

“We feel a community responsibility to Philadelphia,” says Ballinger Senior Principal Terry D. Steelman, FAIA, LEED AP. In addition to financial support of the Collaborative, Terry has been a strong advocate for the organization, in part for the opportunities it affords volunteers to try out new roles and hone their leadership skills. “In practice, when designers are driven by deadlines and budgets, it’s quite easy to get lost in the daily process. Working with the Community Design Collaborative gives people an opportunity to take leadership roles and grow – and both the Collaborative and community benefit.”

Over 30 Ballinger staff members have volunteered with the Collaborative, on projects ranging from reinvigorating dark intersections beneath a rail viaduct, to expanding a jazz venue, to re-imagining a 1960’s Airstream trailer for community health outreach. Each project was funded by a Community Design Collaborative grant and engaged community stakeholders in the conceptual design process.

This Giving Tuesday Ballinger is proud to continue our support of the Community Design Collaborative and the many organizations that benefit from its work.

Good Food for a Good Cause

Members of B::Engaged, Ballinger’s employee community outreach group, volunteered time last evening to guest-chef at the Chestnut Street Ronald McDonald House in Center City Philadelphia. The organization is dedicated to supporting the families of children experiencing illness by fostering communities of comfort and hope.

At the event, our employee volunteers worked hands-on preparing dinner for families of the Ronald McDonald house by making tacos, hoping to bring joy and a sense of community to the evenings of these families.

Link to the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House resource page

Trauma-Informed Design Solutions for Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services

Serving over twenty thousand Philadelphia residents each year, Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services (OHS) is a robust resource to the community. Ballinger was selected to develop conceptual design guidelines to create a more empathetic, trauma-informed OHS intake experience. Intake centers are the first point of contact for families and individuals seeking assistance. From there they can access a variety of  homelessness prevention, diversion, and intake services based on their immediate needs.

The primary goals of the project are to foster a trauma-informed service experience and to promote consistency and efficiency in future renovations of OHS facilities.  Ballinger’s design process included participating in user-group meetings and analyzing data from the Philadelphia Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation (ODDT), activities that align with the City’s “person-centered service framework.”

In collaboration with OHS, the Ballinger team developed guidelines for creating a cohesive environment for the City’s homeless prevention, diversion, and intake services, designed to improve visitor wellbeing, encourage engagement with the OHS system, and prevent re-traumatization. The design effort focused on the Appletree Family Center in downtown Philadelphia, which will serve as a prototype for future intake center renovations.

Built on the tenets of transparency, collaboration and empowerment, the conceptual design guidelines promote a safe and calming environment that also addresses wellness and respite for staff. A palette inspired by the hospitality industry features durable materials, natural textures and muted colors. Ballinger Associate Principal Sara Ridenour, AIA, LEED AP emphasized the impact of the physical environment on our behaviors, “As architects and designers, we recognize that the spaces we occupy influence our attitude and mood. By prioritizing openness, clear wayfinding, and transparency, the design reduces stress and helps participants prepare for each step of the intake process.”

The project was initiated by the PHL Participatory Design Lab, a multidisciplinary and cross-agency team of service designers, policy-makers, and a social scientist. The Lab uses participatory design and evidence-based methods, like service design and social science, to improve City service delivery for and with residents, service partners, City staff, and leadership. The Lab was funded by a Knight Cities Challenge (KCC) award from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and is administered by The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia.

Read more about how Philadelphia is creating trauma-informed service experiences 

Ballinger’s Partnership with Spark Recognized by Philadelphia Business Journal

In recognition of our sustained investment in the work of Spark Philadelphia, Ballinger was selected as one of Philadelphia’s Faces of Philanthropy by the Philadelphia Business Journal. Ballinger Associate Principal Sara Ridenour, AIA, LEED BD+C and Spark Executive Director Deirdre Hake will accept the award at an event on April 11 at the Crystal Tea Room.

Spark is a national non-profit dedicated to helping middle school students achieve successful futures. Spark views the transition from young teens to young adults as an important time to show students what’s possible, especially since middle school is the time in which students risk academic disengagement. Spark Philadelphia has created over 400 transformative mentorships since launching in 2013 as Spark’s first east coast site. Spark Philadelphia currently partners with 4 underserved schools in Philadelphia and 18 company partners, including Ballinger.

Ballinger has supported Spark through donations and volunteerism since 2015, mentoring over 25 students and participating in peer-to-peer fundraising. In 2018 Sara Ridenour joined Spark’s Advisory Board and Ballinger’s Fränc Luu was recognized with Spark’s Veteran Mentor Award for his commitment to the program.

The Faces of Philanthropy award is an endorsement of B::Engaged, Ballinger’s employee-run community service initiative founded in 2015. With a focus on design, B::Engaged is an opportunity for staff members to lend their skills to the surrounding community and gain a broader perspective. The group brings together various volunteer efforts throughout the office, and provides a home for staff members interested in enriching the built and social fabric of our community.

Ballinger’s Michael Radio leads formation of scholarship fund

As current president of the Philadelphia chapter of ASHRAE, Ballinger senior associate Michael Radio, PE, CEM, BEMP, LEED AP led the formation of a scholarship fund intended to encourage female college students to pursue studies in engineering. The ASHRAE Philadelphia Debra H. Kennoy Scholarship Fund will be awarded to a full time student in the Philadelphia area interested in a profession in the heating, refrigerating and air conditioning industry. “Debra’s work in the refrigeration market was transformational in fighting global warming.  We are honored that ASHRAE Philadelphia can help fulfill her desire to promote engineering careers among women,” said Michael.

ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, is a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. Members focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability within the industry. Several Ballinger staff members serve on the board of governors and ASHRAE Philadelphia committees.

Ballinger leads ASHRAE Government Outreach Day

Ballinger design engineer Anthony Scaccia organized and led a “Day on the Hill” in New Jersey to raise awareness about sustainability. Members of ASHRAE New Jersey, Philadelphia and Long Island spoke to senators, assembly-persons, and their staff about ASHRAE building codes, services and the group’s core mission of promoting a sustainable world. Anthony is Government Affairs Committee Chair of ASHRAE Philadelphia. ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a global society with the aim of advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment.

Celebrating Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month and this year’s theme is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.” To close out the month, we asked Ballinger staff members to share advice and their perspectives as women in architecture, engineering and interior design. We’ll be sharing more thoughts from the remarkable women of Ballinger throughout the year.

Evaluating the Benefits of Decentralized Stations Beyond Patient Visibility

Ballinger recently conducted a post-occupancy evaluation to assess how effective the inclusion of decentralized caregiver stations are toward improving staff and patient experience in the medical/surgical inpatient environment.

The research team focused on the Ballinger-designed Lasko Tower at Penn Medicine Chester County Hospital that was completed in 2015 and utilized data and survey results to compare the new floors, each featuring decentralized caregiver stations to existing units which previously accommodated the same patient populations and were built with a single caregiver station and no decentralized stations.  By controlling for patient populations and consistent staff, the study focused on the physical environment. Its results support a strong case for the use of decentralized stations with benefits extending beyond patient visibility.

This research was published by the AIA AAH Academy Journal in an article written by Ballinger principal Louis A. Meilink, Jr. AIA, ACHA, ACHE and senior associate Christina Grimes, AIA, LEED BD+C, EDAC entitled “The decentralized station: More than just patient visibility”.

Link to Article

Philadelphia’s Community Design Collaborative Recognizes B::Engaged

“People need to look at philanthropic energies in two ways. Often they see how they are giving back, but firm leaders in particular need to appreciate that they get something in return. Their staff gets enlightenment and fulfillment that breeds esprit de corps. Leadership through philanthropic engagement strengthens interpersonal skills, decision-making, and growth. And the community as a whole benefits.” Terry D. Steelman, FAIA, LEED AP, Principal, outlined the far-reaching benefits of Ballinger’s volunteer efforts, in an interview with the Community Design Collaborative. The Collaborative profiled B::Engaged, Ballinger’s community engagement group, in a recent post.

B::Engaged connects with and impacts the Philadelphia community through long-term commitments and short-term volunteer work. With a focus on design, B::Engaged is an opportunity for staff members to lend their skills to the surrounding community and gain a broader perspective while enriching the built and social fabric of our surroundings.

B::Engaged members participated in the recent Community Design Collaborative project, Making Connections: Conceptual Design for Under the Viaduct. Residents of a North Central Philadelphia neighborhood were reluctant to walk through dark, underutilized underpasses of a rail viaduct. The purpose of the project was to reimagine the underpasses as connectors, linking neighbors and amenities. The volunteer design team met with community groups and conducted research to develop design solutions to improve three underpasses.  The resulting report was used to generate funding to implement the improvements.

The Community Design Collaborative’s model is to provide pro bono preliminary design services to nonprofit organizations in greater Philadelphia, creating engaging volunteer opportunities for design professionals, and raising awareness about the importance of design in revitalizing communities. Since 1991 they’ve matched communities with volunteer design professionals, to put their visions down on paper and advance to the next stage: gaining support, raising funds, and building projects.

To read the Community Design Collaborative’s profile, click here.