When the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) was preparing for their 50-year design awards retrospective last year, they contacted Murphy & Dittenhafer for information on projects they had recognized during M&D’s 25-year history.
The team at Murphy & Dittenhafer doesn’t enter into their projects expecting to receive awards and accolades upon completion, so they were surprised when they began to tally and realized they’d received 25 design awards – from AIA Baltimore alone – since 1993. The list reflects how well-rounded the firm is in its capabilities and expertise.
“What struck me,” says Frank Dittenhafer, “and what is meaningful, is the diversity of the projects that had been recognized, and continue to be recognized.” They don’t fall into any one category, and very few are high-profile projects supported by significant financial resources.
“Many of the projects,” Dittenhafer says, “are small, modest endeavors and involve buildings that are ordinary or not in the best condition, and they’ve received recognition for all types of uses and clients.”
The breadth of their work is clear when you look at the overall list of awards they’ve received since 1993 – a total of 167 architectural design, historic preservation, and craftsmanship awards.
At one end of the Murphy & Dittenhafer design spectrum are projects like the Peach Bottom Recreation Center in Delta, PA, a $100,000 project to add a community gathering place in a small town. At the other end are initiatives like the Hippodrome Theare in Baltimore, MD, a $60 million restoration and preservation project. In between are a wide variety of commissions including Codo241, Ribbon Place Lofts, Byrnes Health Education Center, JCC of York, The Penn State Pullo Center/Glatfelter Library, and the Roosevelt Park pool pavilion in Baltimore. The small pavilion structure is the point of entry for a Baltimore City pool site, and it won the Grand Design Award from Baltimore AIA in 2009.
Murphy & Dittenhafer walked away with two of the five awards presented at the Central PA AIA design awards last fall. One of them was the Good Design is Good Business award for their work on the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. It was the first time the Central PA chapter had given that particular award and it recognized Murphy & Dittenhafer’s “brilliant design and programming move that gave new life to the insitution.”
The firm has worked with nonprofit organizations, government authorities, religious groups, colleges and universities, arts facilities, parks, low-income housing projects, and high-end lofts in abandoned warehouses. Some of their starting points were buildings that were in remarkable states of decline. They’ve come to be known for this variety, as well as consistent quality, a creative approach, and careful use of client resources, and others have taken notice. They’ve been recognized most every year over the last 20-25 years with awards bestowed by peer organizations with juries from across the country, as well as local preservation recognition from the likes of Historic York, Baltimore Heritage, and Preservation Pennsylvania.
Murphy & Dittenhafer does a lot of work with existing historic or older buildings, and they take a sustainable approach to accommodate clients’ requirements for facilities and space that address current and future needs. Dittenhafer says it’s particularly meaningful to receive preservation awards, sometimes alongside design awards, for restoring, repairing, and renovating.
“They mean a lot, in addition to the architectural design awards,” he says. “We not only have a lot of respect for historic and existing buildings, but we certainly understand the reality that you have to supplement what exists sometimes for new, current-day needs. The recognition confirms that others feel the same way, that we have strong capabilities in doing that in a very sensitive and exciting way.”
Awards and Recognition
1993 – Present
AIA Central PA
10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania
Associated Builders & Contractors