Frank Dittenhafer, President of Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects, was recently appointed to the statewide advocacy organization’s board of directors.
Frank Dittenhafer sees a lot of similarities between the way his architectural firm operates and the mission of the 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania organization.
The group, which calls itself “the leading advocate statewide for creating great places to live and work,” recently added long-time supporter Dittenhafer to its board of directors.
“The 10,000 Friends philosophy fits perfectly with what M&D has always believed in and advocated — smart growth, vibrant communities, re-use of land and buildings,” says Dittenhafer, President of Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects.
Like designing and constructing a facility that serves its purpose and its community well, the updated long-term vision for 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania is built on a strategic plan.
Like us on Facebook!
“At a recent strategic planning session, we distilled what we’re all about to one phrase: We help make Pennsylvania communities healthy, resilient, and vibrant,” Dittenhafer says.
M&D aligns its approach to design of the environment the same way, he says, making communities more sustainable through its clients — whether they are educational institutions, businesses, or government entities.
M&D works at this one building project at a time, while 10,000 Friends does it one community at a time.
Involving more than architecture
Dittenhafer served as an awards presenter at 10,000 Friends annual Commonwealth Awards program last December in Bethlehem, where several Lehigh Valley projects were noted.
“The array of efforts is impressive,” Dittenhafer says. “These aren’t architectural design awards; they are all kinds of initiatives.”
The Bethlehem awards include business development at the Bethlehem Commerce Center, housing in town and at Lehigh University, a new middle school design, PennDOT’s work rehabbing Route 412, and a greenway including a skate park.
“These projects as a whole connect the dots, similar to what M&D does. They connect the immediate design and development dots to the long-term sustainable growth dots,” Dittenhafer says. “These initiatives reposition and rebrand buildings, institutions, and communities.”
From Bethlehem to York to Lancaster
The 2017 Commonwealth Awards ceremony was in York, and Dittenhafer, who calls the White Rose City home, sees the ties that bind these two Keystone State cities and others together, both past and present.
“Each city is different, but they have common issues,” Dittenhafer says. “As with York, Bethlehem is working with existing building stock and complementary new construction, involving the private sector, local institutions, and government. All these avenues coming together contribute to a healthy, vibrant, resilient downtown.”
Dittenhafer notes that M&D designs have revitalized York’s Central Market and added to the downtown’s renewed energy through creating now sought-after loft apartments such as the CODO projects, George Street Lofts and REVI Flats - as well as repurposing numerous vacant buildings for a combination of residential and office/retail use.
In Lancaster, M&D worked on turning the old Stehli Silk Mill in Manheim Township, with a corner in Lancaster City, into a combo commercial and residential gem – in addition to the two Liberty Place residential mixed-use conversions and transformative vision plans for the Lancaster Stadium District and Lancaster’s Central Market.
Another brick in M&D’s corporate philosophy
Dittenhafer’s board membership and involvement with 10,000 Friends is another manifestation of M&D’s corporate commitment to smart growth.
“We feel a strong need to have voices in policy making initiatives statewide, connected to groups, often non-profit, communities, local and state government,” he says.
To this end, M&D contributes to and helps select annual recipients in the Central Pennsylvania Architects Foundation Fund Architecture Scholarship program.
“We want to encourage students from this area to go into architecture and other programs and get involved in their communities, at the local and state levels, and make a difference through smart growth,” Dittenhafer says.
That same belief is applied to his own firm.
“Our company isn’t here to maximize every dollar of profit,” he says. “We have a business philosophy that’s about engagement in the communities where we do business - for the greater good, endorsing sustainable choices, and promoting smart growth decisions.”