Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects has a history of donating its time and talents. ‘All of us like to be part of community organizations,’ says one architect.
Frank Dittenhafer has made it a point to instill a culture of community involvement at Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects, leading to countless hours of pro bono work and jobs that, over the years, were as well-received as they were rewarding to everyone on his staff.
“It’s important to us as members of the community,” says M&D Architect Blake Gifford.
Gifford’s leading one of the firm’s recent pro bono projects: a veterans’ memorial planned for Dittenhafer’s alma mater of Dover Area High School.
The current design will honor veterans of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard.
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“There will be six pylons of equal height in a circle, with the seal and motto of a service branch on each, and two offset gray granite pylons in the center,” Gifford says.
The memorial will nod to today’s youth by using a combination of slate/bluestone, red brick, and white and grey granite.
While Gifford acknowledges students coming to school each day may not stop to think about those the memorial honors, he believes students and other community members will do so in quiet moments.
“The nature of patriotism and honoring the military is different for each person,” Gifford says. “We’re creating a space to sit and reflect. It doesn’t force patriotism on anyone but offers the chance to reflect.”
Guiding peace garden visitors
The firm is also designing a kiosk for York’s Veterans Memorial Gold Star Healing & Peace Garden, which honors those who gave their lives in the war on terror. Dittenhafer was one of the original designers of the now six-year-old memorial.
“The kiosk will help visitors orient themselves as to how to move through the park,” says Architectural Designer Patrick Ness. “Planted areas have certain plants and colors for various reasons, and the kiosk will provide this context. Images on the kiosk, along with brochures and maps, will help people understand the garden’s design, and direct visitors to certain spots, depending on their reason for visiting.”
Ness says the kiosk’s location was carefully chosen, near the garden entrance by a small, brick-covered area with a plaque giving the garden’s history and meaning.
“It doesn’t compete with the Wall of the Fallen, containing names of veterans who died fighting terrorists.”
Of this pro bono work, Ness says it’s another opportunity for M&D to be part of the community.
“Many people are coming together to make this happen,” he says. “We want to be part of this great cause.”
Adding to a legacy
Another recent pro bono project for the firm is a shade canopy at Reid Menzer Memorial Skatepark, part of a poignant tribute to a teen whose legacy makes his community better.
“The canopy will provide what skaters who use the park told us they need—a resting space out of the sun, and some protection from wind and rain,” says Ness, himself a skater in his younger days. “It could also be a place where parents can watch.”
Named in honor or Reid Mentzer, a 14-year-old York County skater who died in 2006, provides something Reid wanted: a safe place for young people to enjoy this sport.
“Frank Dittenhafer was on the committee that planned and designed the original park’s expansion,” Ness says. “M&D donated services to that, so when Frank asked me about helping with this, I thought it was a great idea.”
While erecting a shade canopy may sound simple, it requires a lot of calculations.
“We need to understand solar angles to provide shade when the sun is at different places in the sky, but also allow more sun in late fall and winter,” Ness says, adding the canopy will be steel and aluminum metals for durability.
Murphy & Dittenhafer staff believe the time and effort put into these types of projects is worth it.
“All of us like to be part of community organizations,” Ness says. “We feel a duty to help and are proud that we can help.”