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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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”.
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.
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.
In recognition of our sustained investment in the work of the Community Design Collaborative, Ballinger was selected as one of Philadelphia’s Faces of Philanthropy by the Philadelphia Business Journal. Principal Eric Swanson, AIA accepted the award on behalf of Ballinger at an event on April 6 at the Ballroom at the Ben.
The Community Design Collaborative provides pro bono preliminary design services to nonprofit organizations in greater Philadelphia. Over 80 Ballinger employees have volunteered with the Collaborative over the years, and 14 employees are currently working on three projects. Ballinger Designer Bonnie Netel, who leads one of the projects said, “It’s been great to watch Ballinger’s participation gain momentum. Our work with the Collaborative is supported internally, and it’s horizontal; employees at every level contribute. Now that we have three ongoing Collaborative projects, we have the opportunity to exchange ideas between groups and create buzz around the office.”
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.
The Community Design Collaborative will honor Ballinger with its 2017 Leverage Award on April 4th at Pennovation Center.
Beth Miller, executive director for the Collaborative, says, “We’re recognizing Ballinger for their enduring partnership with us and the great work they’re doing in Philadelphia. They’ve volunteered through us to help local nonprofits… and encouraged their staff to do everything from digging flower beds on Love Your Park Day to giving high school students hands-on experience with design.”
The Leverage Award recognizes local leaders for their commitment to strengthening neighborhoods through design. As the name suggests, it celebrates the leveraging of sought-after skills of architects and other design professionals to help Philadelphia nonprofits launch life-changing projects in their communities.
The Collaborative has matched Ballinger employees with six nonprofit-led community development ventures. They have already donated over 500 hours of pro bono architectural and engineering assistance that would have otherwise cost $45,000—with more projects in the works. The Collaborative/Ballinger partnership has been significant enough to gain recognition in the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Faces of Philanthropy, which honors strong for-profit/nonprofit partnerships throughout the region.
For example, Ballinger recently worked alongside residents to re-imagine several SEPTA viaduct underpasses as colorful, bright, art-filled spaces that reconnect residents in North Central Philadelphia. Using photos and sketches, they polled over 300 residents about their favorite ideas for the massive viaducts. The imagery behind their designs—porches, beacons, and streams—were drawn from conversations with the North Central community.
“The Collaborative creates a hub where neighborhoods and the design community can work together. It provides a connection to Philadelphia, to see what my community looks like, how people live, and how I participate in that. It’s a great opportunity,” says Ballinger Architectural Designer Bonnie Netel.
Ballinger Principal Terry Steelman will accept the Leverage Award on behalf of the firm at Leverage 2017. The event will be held at the LEED Gold Pennovation Center, for which Ballinger provided MEP and structural engineering. Leverage 2017 will bring over 300 supporters of community design to Pennovation Center, a blend of offices, labs, and production space housed in a former paint manufacturing plant. Like the Collaborative, Pennovation Center is preserving Philadelphia’s authentic, sometimes rough-around-the-edges buildings and spaces and giving them new roles that create jobs and strengthen communities.
“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.
Ballinger attended the opening celebration of Puentes de Salud, a unique clinic that provides healthcare and innovative educational programs for Philadelphia’s rapidly growing Latino immigrant population. Ballinger donated architectural and engineering services to bring the project to life, along with clinical support from Penn Medicine, and community advocacy from the renowned chef Jose Garces.
Learn more about Puentes de Salud (Bridges to Health) here.
Photo: Ballinger Senior Associate Ben Patane, AIA, LEED AP, Dr. Steve Larson, Co-Founder of Puentes De Salud, and Ballinger’s Director of Healthcare Planning, Dwight Smith, AIA, NCARB, EDAC