Articles Tagged with: Community Engagement

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 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.

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

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”.

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

Ballinger at the Penn Medicine Radnor Run

Ballinger staff members participated in the annual Penn Medicine Radnor Run today, raising money for the American Lung Association. The event included a 5-mile timed running race and 1-mile walk/fun run. Despite wind and rain, Ballinger team runners won first place in two divisions.

Ballinger was among the top fundraising companies and helped exceed the event’s $120,000 fundraising goal. We’re proud to support our client, Penn Medicine, and the American Lung Association.

Ballinger supports engineers of the future

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.

Part of a national initiative to engage students in STEM, the Philadelphia program culminates in a live event judged by professional engineers. Over 100 volunteers gathered at Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor for the competition on January 19, including a group from Ballinger. Throughout the day, budding engineers in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades presented their cities to judges. Radnor 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.

The Philadelphia competition is one of 39 regional programs around the country, and draws students from Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, Southern New Jersey and Delaware. Future City is an educational outreach program of DiscoveryE, whose mission is to sustain and grow a dynamic engineering profession through outreach, education, celebration, and volunteerism.

Ballinger Supports the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

As a member of Team Hope, Ballinger raised over $20,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) during our 2018 Spring Fling fundraiser. The mission of the LLS is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. The organization has invested more than $1.2 billion in research to advance cures.

Ballinger’s Spring Fling included a presentation by medical oncologist, Dr. Margaret Kasner; a silent auction comprised of items donated by employees, vendors and neighborhood businesses, an evening gathering for staff, friends and family at nearby Independence Mall Café, and a fundraising competition that encouraged interdisciplinary collaboration. The firm’s principals generously volunteered to participate in an “ice bucket challenge” to raise money for the cause.

In total, the 2018 LLS Philadelphia Man and Woman of the Year campaign raised $652,516. We’re proud to be part of Team Hope and honored to create buildings that foster discoveries. Our contributions to the LLS continue our commitment to life-saving research.

Ballinger volunteers join the Philadelphia Future City Competition to sponsor creativity and engineering among local middle-school students

Ballinger participated in the annual Philadelphia Future City Competition, an educational engineering program for middle-school students to imagine, research, design, and build the cities of the future.

Over 100 volunteers from various institutions — Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Penn Medicine, and the University of Pennsylvania among them — gathered at Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor for the final competition on February 20th. Throughout the day, budding engineers in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades presented their detailed dioramas of future cities to judges — including Christopher Bratz, Christine Larsen, and Aaron Harrington of Ballinger.

The Future City Competition is part of a countrywide network of programs created to introduce young students to the engineering profession. An all-girl team from Great Valley Middle School’s 10th grade class was the proud recipient of the “Walter Ballinger Hope for the Future Award,” made possible by Ballinger’s financial contribution to the event.

Ballinger Sparks Inspiration at Discovery Night

Ballinger designers Margaret Nersten and Fränc Luu participated in Spark Philadelphia’s Discovery Night, an annual event celebrating the results of Spark mentorships.

Spark is a national mentorship program with the mission of inspiring 7th, 8th and 9th graders in underserved communities to succeed in high school and beyond. Each Spark student is paired with a mentor in a career field of interest. Together, the student and mentor develop a project. Discovery Night is a chance for Spark students to present their final projects to their parents, mentors, teachers, and community.

This year’s program, held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, included a keynote address by Philadelphia Councilman Allan Domb and a presentation by Ballinger’s Margaret Nersten, who shared her positive experience with the program.

“Exposing students to a context they’re not familiar with shows them that new opportunities are exciting. I love teaching students what happens when you work hard and focus on the things you love to do,” Margaret said.

Ballinger has partnered with Spark since 2014, inviting students to experience our workplace and work side-by-side with architecture and engineering professionals.

Ballinger’s Partnership with the Community Design Collaborative Recognized by Philadelphia Business Journal

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.

Ballinger to Receive Community Design Collaborative Leverage Award

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.

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.

Ballinger Volunteers with Community Design Collaborative to Make Connections Across North Central

How do you transform a barrier into a connector? That was the challenge presented by the Community Design Collaborative’s Viaduct Project. Ballinger volunteers, along with a variety of design professionals, accepted the challenge and developed “Making Connections: Conceptual Design for Under the Viaduct.”

The effort included community meetings, over 300 surveys, and an ongoing dialog with the neighborhood. The resulting report included three distinct design solutions for three underpasses. The designs—inspired by the themes of “stream”, “beacon”, and “porch”—draw upon neighborhood history and landscape.

The report, which includes a site analysis and preliminary budget estimate, is being 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.

Read more here.

B::Engaged Mentorship Programs

Ballinger’s community engagement group, B::Engaged, is kicking off another year of mentorship programs. Thank you to the Ballinger volunteers who have contributed their time and to our community partner, Spark Philadelphia.

Spark, a national nonprofit, offers a unique program that re-engages middle school students in their education through hands-on apprenticeships and a Leadership Curriculum.

Ballinger also participates in Drexel University’s Co-op Program, in which sophomore and junior students from the College of Engineering work side-by-side with Ballinger engineers.

Learn more about Ballinger’s commitment to engaging and contributing to our community through mentorship here.

Ballinger Supports the 2016 Philadelphia Heart Walk

Ballinger is taking part in the 2016 Philadelphia Heart Walk. The walk is organized by the American Heart Association, the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Ballinger’s community engagement group, B::Engaged, has organized seven teams of walkers to join the15,000 participants expected November 5th. The walk kicks off at Citizens Bank Park and includes a three-mile route followed by a wellness festival.

Ballinger’s B::Engaged is a community engagement group that 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 their surroundings.

Ballinger celebrates the opening of Puentes de Salud

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

Ballinger Builds Canstruction Sculpture to Benefit Philabundance

Ballinger participated in Canstruction, a charity competition that unites the design, engineering and construction industries to feed the hungry. Since its founding in 1992, Canstruction has become one of the largest and most consistent canned food contributors to food banks in the world.

Canstruction Philadelphia, now in its 10th year, took place in conjunction with the 2016 National AIA Convention. Participating firms created sculptures from canned food which were displayed in the Shops at Liberty Place during the Convention.  Ballinger’s entry was an infographic about this year’s theme: “DECADES: CANstruction Philadelphia’s 10th CANniversary.”

Ballinger’s employee-run community engagement group, B::Engaged, led the effort. With a focus on design, B::Engaged is an opportunity for staff members to lend their skills to the community and gain a broader perspective while enriching the built and social fabric of their surroundings.

Ballinger Celebrates National Mentoring Month

This January marks the 15th annual National Mentoring Month, and Ballinger is continuing its support of mentorship programs including Spark and Philadelphia’s Charter High School of Architecture and Design (CHAD).

Spark, a national nonprofit, was conceived to re-engage middle school students in their education through workplace-based apprenticeships. Underserved 7th and 8th graders interested in architecture are invited to Ballinger to work with professional architects, designers and engineers. Spark’s parallel in-school curriculum reinforces the link between classrooms and careers while helping students build skills necessary for success in high school and beyond.

Ballinger also partners with CHAD, which was founded in 1999 by the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA and is the first charter high school for architecture and design in the US. The school’s innovative program integrates the design process with a strong liberal arts education.

This month Ballinger recognizes the employees who dedicate their time to mentorship programs, including:

Gurveer Bhuta
Ryan Debski
Charlotte DiGiorgio
Kamille Ditcher
Rayma Garcia
Jeff Harper
Helen Joo
Cory Klawunn
David Lee
Stacey Lindbloom
Kate Lyons
Franc Luu
Margaret Nersten
Emily Perotta
Anthony Prousi
Sara Ridenour
Katie Seftas
Jake Shoemaker
Terry Steelman
Lindsey Walker

Ballinger’s employee-run community engagement group, B::Engaged, leads the mentorship efforts, in addition to organizing short and long term service projects.

High School Students Visit Ballinger for National Mentoring Month

Continuing its support of National Mentoring Month, Ballinger invited high school students for a presentation and tour of our office. Students from the Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square visited Ballinger January 12, as part of JTerm, a two-week interdisciplinary program during which upper school students focus on one subject through intensive, experiential on- and off-campus study. Principal Eric Swanson gave a talk about A/E careers and staff members met with small groups of students to explain their roles.

Ballinger B::Engaged Volunteers Clean Up Kahn Park

Ballinger employees joined over 400 volunteers at 75 parks across Philadelphia for a fall clean-up. They planted crocus bulbs, collected 25 bags of organic material and removed six bags of trash and weeds from Kahn Park. The park, located on 11th and Pine Street, is dedicated to Philadelphia architect Louis I. Kahn, who lived nearby on Clinton Street.

Ballinger’s B::Engaged is a community engagement group that 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 their surroundings.

Ballinger Launches B::Engaged, An Employee-Run Community Service Initiative

B::Engaged is a community engagement group at Ballinger that 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.

Ballinger makes an annual monetary contribution to the Community Design Collaborative, a Philadelphia organization that strengthens neighborhoods by pairing design professionals with non-profits to revitalize communities. Currently 12 Ballinger volunteers are working with community non-profits through the Community Design Collaborative. B::Engaged is also participating in Spark, an apprenticeship program, and a mentorship program for students at Philadelphia’s Charter High School of Architecture and Design.

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Recent short-term service projects include Cradle to Crayons, Philabundance and Love Your Park. By bringing together various volunteer efforts throughout the office, B::Engaged offers both accountability and flexibility for staff members interested in enriching the built and social fabric of the community.