The space inside the former used furniture store has served not only the architectural firm and its Interiors division but the community, as well.
Pardon the pun, but you don’t have to fish to get Frank Dittenhafer talking about “c o d”.
Ask him how the first year (now almost 18 months) has gone with the space, located within Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects’ York office complex - adjacent to the former Hotel Codorus in a former used furniture store space, and his enthusiasm flows.
“It’s been wonderful,” he says. “I think things have even exceeded our expectations. It’s worked out very well to have ‘c o d’ as part of our facility and home and as an option for the many activities we’re involved in.”
And “c o d” has become a home for not only the interior design arm of Murphy & Dittenhafer but for the York community and beyond. In its first year, “c o d” has played host to a variety of events, from luncheons to workshops to live music.
A home for design
When Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects began renovating the building at 228 W. Market St. in 2015, they discovered a lot of interesting features – a unique concrete floor and old wood framing and decking on the 14-foot high ceilings – which gave the space an artistic vibe. That was even further enhanced when Frank and his wife, Sue Ann Kline, decided to share pieces of their Inuit and Canadian folk art collection.
All that has made an inspiring spot for the entire firm, but especially Murphy & Dittenhafer Interiors, now housed there. “Collaborative of Designers” is one of many possible meanings for “c o d”, and it certainly serves as such.
“It’s provided us a great, flexible room for collaboration between Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects and Interiors,” Dittenhafer says.
The space has also provided a collective space for the interior design department, which had been spread out in the main building.
“On that real basic level, for our people it has worked out great,” says Dittenhafer. “Our interiors department was sort of split on the third floor and an area for samples on the lower floor. Now, they’re together in this really nice studio environment, which has worked out wonderfully.”
Welcoming the community
From its June 9, 2016, ribbon-cutting and open house, “c o d” has quickly become a popular venue for special community events, Dittenhafer notes with pride – although he has no intention of competing with other downtown event venues for hosting functions.
“It’s given us this great opportunity to interact with the York community and the greater central Pennsylvania and Maryland communities,” he says.
Beyond the native art on its walls, “c o d” has proven to be a great spot for local artists to share their work as well. On its 90-foot-long, 14-foot-high curved wall, with exposed studs, York College of Pennsylvania has twice found the perfect canvas for the Art Walk it coordinates with local high schools. Students have come in to “c o d” to install exhibits on that wall and the public has been invited to enjoy their work.
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Frank and Sue Ann also invited musicians they’d met on their travels to Nova Scotia for a local performance at “c o d”. The space also played host to the Women’s Giving Circle, which wanted to hold a luncheon in the WeCo district, as well as the City of York’s Landlord University, a series of workshops for residents involved in owning property or hoping to get involved.
“We wanted to keep “c o d” sort of open-ended and see what all could occur as a place, not just for our use, but how we could engage with the community in different ways at different times, as suggestions occurred,” Dittenhafer says.
And while “c o d” remains open for requests, Dittenhafer says plans in the near future include an installation of photographic reproductions of Murphy & Dittenhafer’s architectural work.
A visual hook
Aside from the name, what makes “c o d” so unique and appealing?
“I think the environment – the way we’ve designed it and the art installation – sets it up as not your typical venue, meeting space, environment, and in a way that people are curious and like to be in that space,” Dittenhafer says. “It has curb appeal; from the outside you can see the art on the inside. It has an interesting visual hook.”
From a functionality standpoint, the space’s flexibility helps it be multi-faceted. The tables are movable, and the curved wall keeps it from being “a pure box,” Dittenhafer says. It also includes all the pieces to support a great meeting space – audio/visual capabilities, kitchenette and restrooms.
“But beyond that,” he notes, “we intentionally branded it “c o d”, which you can interpret different ways, and left it up to everybody to come up with an interpretation. I think that very much is a metaphor for the building itself.”