Community – The Power of Place
KSS values the building of human relationships as much as the building of stone and steel. We are experts at building bonds between people and project, and client and community, ultimately believing that the essence of community is centered on place. To foster such community and to reflect its richness and diversity, we create thoughtful and vibrant places for learning, commerce, and community where people learn and grow, work and succeed.
It is because we believe so fervently in the empowerment of environment that we continually strive to excel at weaving this sense of purpose and place together: learning environments that change size and shape to support collaboration and camaraderie, cultural spaces of mixed-use for neighbors of all ages to meet, dine, shop and socialize, workplace transformations that encourage grand thoughts and support great actions.
It is through our thoughtfully crafted relationships between people and architecture that we believe a fabric of community can be woven, strengthened and broadened. A great place can not only bring a group of students, neighbors or co-workers together, but inspire it to do remarkable things.
A master plan covers missions and goals, land use and open space, resources and facilities, circulation, recreation and implementation. It is flexible, versatile, and dynamic. Perhaps more importantly, a master plan must create a sense of purpose, clarity, and a way forward. It puts forth a vision that enhances the character of a community, a campus, or a building, while supporting its mission and strategic plan to produce great dividends for many years to come.
As architects, we address planning at multiple scales creating design solutions that consider urban planning, financial requirements, aesthetics, program, developer, and user. This holistic analysis informs our design solutions to maximize impact of the plan. We conduct extensive site analysis with the understanding of the immeasurable value the right site and orientation can bring to a project.
A master plan also capitalizes on opportunities to preserve, renovate, and enliven older buildings, as the relationships between old and new are critical to a comprehensive, inclusive, ever-evolving master plan. We plan to honor the heritage of a location, a community, or a building in order to ignite change for the future.
Our approach to placemaking is rooted in our expertise in understanding the built environment—how it makes an individual feel and creates a sense of place. Through this understanding we are able to create places that inspire human interaction and strengthen community. Community engagement is at the core of making place. We facilitate opportunities for community members to contribute their input through charettes, interviews, and open forums. In these meetings we ask a series of questions to not only get to the root of what a community needs, but also to understand what is iconic about it, what is important about it, what people like about it—the things that establish connection between people and place. In our experience, this dialogue is absolutely critical to the success of the project. When we are able to root out what is happening in a community—what lights the match—we are able to celebrate it through our design to ignite the fire.
Inherent in achieving a sense of place is the conveyance of identity. It is as much an internal reinforcement of brand as it is an expression to the outside world.
While the representation of identity tends to be visual, we also strive to impart its essence–what a company is about, what an institution embodies, what a university stands for. Logos and graphics tackle part of the job, but we strive to use architecture to impart a sense of place, a feel for mission, and an opportunity for community to form and thrive.
Sometimes, “the greenest building is the one already built,” and care is taken to conserve existing materials while increasing energy efficiency to give an old structure new life. With each project, we grow our understanding of how the built and natural environments can co-exist symbiotically. Success is measured by how well a project respects its natural surroundings, how minimally it uses non-renewable resources, how resilient it is to the adapting conditions of its site, and how it contributes to strengthening the surrounding community. With each project, we ask ourselves: how small can our ecological footprint be? How great our social impact?
Stewardship is the expression of our collective capacity to replenish and care for resources of all kinds. As stewards of our continually changing world, we work across markets at varying scales to sensitively integrate new buildings into their natural surroundings while minimizing environmental impact. KSS has signed on to the AIA 2030 Commitment which supports the 2030 Challenge—that all new buildings, developments, and major renovations are carbon neutral by the year 2030—and serves as a framework to transform the practice of architecture in a way that is holistic, firm-wide, project-based and data-driven.