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Even when facing unique structures, tight deadlines and limited budgets, the professionals at Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects find ways to bring our clients’ visions to life.

Here are a few examples of some of our Architects’ toughest challenges and how they overcame them.

Ryan Shank

Project: York College Center for Community Engagement, York Pa.

The challenge: “Anytime you work on a 200-year-old building, you are going to find unforeseen conditions,” Shank say.

This project featured several unknown “hidden” conditions, one of which was a steel column that would be located in the middle of the new lobby, and another was making the building more accessible.

Solution: “Rather than enclose the column in drywall,” Shank says, “we chose to have the contractor clean up and remove the rust around the steel column and integrate it with a small, built-in table.”

To make the building more accessible, M&D built a new lobby reusing the existing historic door, stained glass sidelites and transom and built an elevator to connect the street level to the existing floors.

“We also took care in placing the sprinklers throughout the building to keep the historic ceilings intact,” Shank says.

Bruce Johnson

Project: Forum Building Auditorium at the Pennsylvania State Capitol complex

The challenge: “The building is a 1932 structure with significant Art Deco interior and exterior decoration and trims that are considered historically significant,” Johnson says.

It had antiquated and deficient mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems that were overdue for replacement.

“Meanwhile,” Johnson says, “all renovations had to be made while still retaining the functionality of the building.”

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Solution: “Throughout the process, we worked with conservator specialists in the overall planning and coordination of the new systems into the building, while working to restore the Auditorium’s historical finishes,” he says.

They created a delineated construction project that allowed for the building to be renovated while minimizing the disruption created by the construction and allowing the forum’s functionality.

Todd Grove

Project: The Washington County Senior Center, Hagerstown, Md.

The challenge: “The building was a former armory constructed in the 1950s with an unattractive façade that was vacant for decades,” Grove says. “It had no reusable HVAC system and had to be brought up to code.”

It was a large site overall but needed to be turned into a place that could be used for senior spaces.

Solution: “We gave the building some character by creating a main entry way where there was none, featuring a canopy and covered sidewalk,” Grove says.

They also brought the building up to code and incorporated new MEP systems into the extensive renovations. Large window areas were added to make the space more appealing, and an exterior senior space was added when asphalt paving was removed and turned into outdoor terraces and landscaped courtyards.


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