KSS Architects staff members could hardly contain their excitement at this year’s Design Day, an annual event sponsored by the New Jersey Society of the American Institute of Architects, or AIA New Jersey. The organization had just announced the winners of its annual design and service awards and KSS won not just one, but four awards.
“I was blown away,” said KSS co-founder and partner Allan Kehrt, FAIA, LEED AP. “I think everybody was. It was both incredible and humbling to see the projects we have dedicated years working on win awards.”
This year 74 projects were submitted into the design competition by architecture, design and planning firms based in New Jersey or with projects in New Jersey. AIA NJ selected 11 projects to win design awards in the categories of “Built,” “Unbuilt,” “Design/Build,” and “Interior Architecture.”
Of the six awards given in the “Built” category, KSS won three: an Honor Award and two Merit awards.
The firm received an Honor Award in the “Built” category for their design of the Human Rights Institute at Kean University, Union, N.J. The 12,000 square-foot, three-story gallery and resource center promotes global understanding through outreach to academic and local communities. KSS designed the building as a transparent space, both literally and figuratively. Located along the central path of the campus, the building is oriented to allow pedestrians to see into the main gallery, which hosts events, lectures and exhibits. Universal prose from human rights leaders appear throughout the building, engraved into its masonry walls and slate flooring and expressed on a colonnade of glass windows.
KSS received Merit awards for the Tower Renovation at Cornell University’s School of Hospitality Administration in Ithaca, N.Y., and the Dorrance H. Hamilton Public Media Commons at WHYY in Philadelphia.
At Cornell University, KSS transformed a tower once used to “fly” scenery and sets in the theater into a research and entrepreneurship center for the world-renowned hospitality school. The renovation and expansion converted the underutilized, 60 ft-high, 4,000 square-foot tower into 14,000 sf of space distributed over five newly-created floors. The top floor meeting room provides one of the highest viewpoints of the campus and has become an increasingly coveted event space. On the building’s facade, which faces a major campus entrance, KSS transformed the former blank limestone wall into a transparent multistory curtain wall that merges the engaging atmospheres inside and outside.
In Center City Philadelphia, KSS Architects designed the landmark Hamilton Public Media Commons, an 8,300 sf addition and 5,100 sf renovation to WHYY Public Media’s Technology Center. The state-of-the-art facility serves as a learning center for teaching community members about digital media. Programmable LED panels comprise a 25-by-68-ft facade, one of the largest U.S. installations of its kind, and give WHYY a large-scale digital canvas to showcase colorful and dynamic videos that correspond to studio activities inside.
AIA NJ award jurors also cited the WHYY Public Media Commons as the best presentation board of the 74 project entries.
KSS associate Stephen Doyle, AIA, LEED AP, was also named Young Architect of the Year. The service award is given to an “individual recognized as having made major accomplishments in the field of architecture” both professionally, technically and personally within the first 10 years of being registered in the architectural profession. Doyle has worked on many of KSS’ largest and most successful projects, including Scandling Campus Center at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and a 255,000 sf corporate headquarters for Empire Merchants North, which earned LEED Silver certification. He is currently the project manager for the planning and design of a new 1.2 million square feet distribution center for TEVA Pharmaceuticals in Philadelphia.
Like many firms in the building and design industry, KSS Architects is just beginning to see new activity in this economy, said Michael Shatken, AIA, LEED AP, partner. No one takes for granted that the future is unpredictable. However, moments like winning AIA NJ’s design and service awards provide a welcomed reminder that the firm’s staff members and projects have helped improved the environments in which people live and experience every day.
“Even within the challenging economic times we are experiencing, the firm has remained true to its mission of creating exceptional places,” Shatken said. “We still believe in the ability of architecture and excellence in design to bring a higher quality of life to people.”
AIA NJ’s design and service winners were announced at the annual Design Day event on Sept. 16, 2010, at Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel. The formal awards ceremony, presentation and dinner will be held on Jan. 8, 2011, at the Carl Icahn Laboratory at Princeton University.
About KSS Architects LLP
KSS Architects (kssarchitects.com) is an architectural design firm with offices in Philadelphia and Princeton, N.J. Founded in 1983, KSS specializes in the design and planning of educational institutions, government facilities, industrial buildings and corporate interiors. Current projects include a new campus center at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, a new Professional Studies Building for SUNY Cortland, and a new sales and distribution center for TEVA Pharmaceuticals in Philadelphia.