Positioning for the Future

December 11, 2023

As 2024 fast approaches, we’re looking ahead: the global economy is in a state of change, and the architecture, engineering, and construction industry must change with it. We predict an increased emphasis on investment in human capital and communities along with more attention to resource utilization to drive ROI.

Strategic, small-scale renovations, adaptive reuse, decarbonized building strategies, and human-centric design are just some of the innovative ways in which KSS is responding to and shaping the future for the better. Learn more about our projects and design approach below.

University of Pennsylvania’s Pennovation Center
Adaptive Reuse to Honor Heritage

Located on a 23-acre former DuPont research site across the Schuylkill River from Penn’s campus core, Pennovation is an iconic landmark for the University. Its redesign takes advantage of the building’s strong industrial bones by keeping infrastructure exposed and the floors, columns, and façade as raw as possible. While much of the robust existing façade is maintained, selective intervention on the north façade marries history with progress. This sculptural intervention serves as an illuminated beacon, expressing the entrepreneurial ecosystem within and projecting it forward to the established heart of campus. Centralized co-working space connects offices, labs, and shared resources, creating an area of intersections where disciplines, theories, and ideas overlap and collide—a place where students and companies come together to change the world. Designed in partnership with Hollwich Kushner (HWKN) Architects. Read about the Pennovation Center here.

KIPP Philadelphia’s Whittier School
Preservation: Revitalizing Neighborhoods through Stewardship of a Site

Designed and constructed in 1913, the former John Greenleaf Whittier Campus sat vacant for nearly a decade. Honoring the site’s heritage and preserving the building’s historic character, while accommodating the needs of evolving learning styles, the Whittier School is given restored purpose by its new stewards, bringing new life and energy to the neighborhood. By reopening the historic main entrance on West Clearfield St, restoring the façade, replacing all windows, and transforming adjacent asphalt lots into outdoor play and learning spaces, the school is once again a thriving community asset. By reusing the historic school building, the project maintains the existing urban fabric and harnesses the embodied energy within the existing structure. The revitalization project was funded through multiple sources related to its restoration, including Federal Historic Preservation tax credits and an SMIP grant for managing all stormwater from the site and adjacent streets. Read about KIPP Whittier here.

University of Pennsylvania’s Amy Gutmann Hall
Decarbonization: The Emerging Technology of Mass Timber

Aspirations established during the integrated design workshop focused on creating an environment that connects occupants, who work in a digital world, back to the natural environment. This future home of Data Science academic and research programs will centralize resources to advance the work of scholars across a wide variety of fields, making the tools and concepts of data analysis more accessible to the university community. The first six-story mass timber building in the City of Philadelphia maximizes daylight and views, integrates ecological environments into interior spaces, and incorporates sensory stimuli that encourage collaborative social behavior and comfort. The mass timber structural system reduces the building’s carbon footprint by 52% relative to concrete and 41% relative to steel and creates a warm, tactile, and welcoming environment. Designed in partnership with Lake Flato Architects. Read about Amy Gutmann Hall here.

Rowan University’s Jean & Ric Edelman Fossil Park
Transformation: Illuminating history to protect the future

This transformation of a former marl quarry containing 66-million-year-old marine and terrestrial fossils into a new museum and visitor center perched above the quarry provides a window into the last moments of the dinosaur world. Designed to meet the Living Building Challenge Energy Petal to achieve net zero energy, and utilizing mass timber construction, the museum incorporates site-specific, experience-driven design and exhibits that illuminate history while reducing environmental impact. Featuring geothermal heating and cooling systems, a high-performance envelope, and solar readiness, the museum has potential to be NJ’s largest public net zero facility, where 100% of energy used would come from a combination of green energy available in NJ’s power grid and renewable energy produced on-site. No fossil fuels will be combusted for museum operations, and no greenhouse gases will be released into the atmosphere. This world-class destination for scientific discovery and citizen science looks deep into the past to create a better future. Designed in partnership with Ennead Architects. Read about Fossil Park here.

Connecticut College’s Crozier-Williams Campus Center
Renovation: Transforming space strategically to maximize impact

Without limitless capital, careful planning is required to steward finite resources toward projects of greatest impact to align with long-term institutional goals. Enriching student life on campus was one of the greatest needs identified by the college as it related to the aging campus center no longer reflecting student needs. Built-in 1957 as an active space for students to socialize, it had fallen to the wayside following several renovations that de-emphasized its social power. To transform student life on campus, pockets of program within the historic campus center will be strategically renovated, with a clear goal of prioritizing student-facing programs. The pragmatism required to address a partial renovation within a complex existing building aligned with the budget was also met with lofty aspirations for student life impact. Two fundamental influences–the campus’s identity as an arboretum and the building’s beautiful mid-century heritage–guided the design vision: to bring people together in a place-based environment that invites well-being, nature, and an enriched human experience.

Related Companies’ 3202 Queens Boulevard
Decarbonization: Leveraging strategies for adaptive reuse

A thoughtful renovation gives new life to the original Packard Motor Building in Long Island City, Queens, a cast-in-place concrete structure nearly a century old. A strategically located addition will increase the building insulation and reduce its long-term operational carbon output. The adaptive reuse of this building, which involves the demolition of a small one-story addition, minimizes the waste debris and environmental pollutants of demolition, and the operational carbon of the heavy equipment required to demolish a building of this scale. According to the EPA, demolition accounts for 90% of the debris created in the construction industry and is a significant contributor to the embodied carbon of many construction projects. Read about 3202 Queens Boulevard here.