Learning Commons are a microcosm of the higher education experience, used in a diversity of ways by all members of the campus community. Our practice has been exploring changes to this layered ecosystem through our work with Ramapo College of New Jersey, where we’re re-envisioning the existing George T. Potter library, recently renamed as the Peter P. Mercer Learning Commons. In addition to significant changes to collections access and technology resources, the design integrates new areas for interaction and collaboration.

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The Peter P. Mercer Learning Commons at Ramapo College of New Jersey © Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

As the project moves toward completion in the summer of 2021, this series will explore the evolution of the learning commons model to support higher education in the 21st century. …


The pop-up shops that welcomed visitors to Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square this holiday season provided local retailers and craftspeople with a way to safely connect with customers. The rhythm of distinctive, sawtooth-shaped shops brought a festive, open-air market experience to downtown, a warm glow in the winter twilight.

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The shops on Wilkes-Barre’s Public Square © Nicholas Snyder / Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Through its pop-up shop program in recent years, the Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce has offered vacant storefronts downtown at a discount to small retailers and craftspeople without a brick-and-mortar presence. …


The pandemic has forced us all to reconsider how we remain engaged with our communities. For many organizations, this has meant re-envisioning existing places of gathering to provide support and developing new ways of responding to changing needs. Our final Year of Gathering event brought together leaders from North Philly Peace Park, Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC), and the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh for a conversation on how each has remained resilient and strengthened community connections this year.

Places of Gathering

Patricia Culley, an associate principal at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, began by asking each speaker to introduce their gathering place. Kirsten Christopherson-Clark, Waldorf’s head of school, spoke of the holistic “head, heart, and hands” process that nurtures student development. The evolution of the school’s campus, including working with our practice to design a new eighth grade classroom building, was informed by a similar approach. Kirsten noted that site studies engaged natural surroundings in much the same way an educator would look at a child: by seeing what’s there, getting a feeling for the person (or space), and then seeing what wants to come. …


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© Nic Lehoux

Surrounded by the forests of the Delaware River Gap National Recreation Area, the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) is a unique public-private partnership — a non-profit that sits on federal parkland. PEEC has provided a departure point for visitors of all ages to interact with and learn about the natural world for over 40 years. When Bohlin Cywinski Jackson was engaged to design a new hub for visitor activities on the site, we were inspired by PEEC’s commitment to demonstrating our interdependent relationship with nature and its strong connection to the surrounding environment.

The 3,600 square-foot Visitor Activity Center has evolved to support many uses in its lifetime and continues to do so during a year of uncertainty and change. Its identity as a welcoming place to learn about environmental stewardship and holistic sustainable design remains more relevant than ever. …


The design of a new classroom building at the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh supports its holistic approach to education.

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© Nic Lehoux

The Waldorf School of Pittsburgh is an independent, K-8 school located on a two-acre campus in the city’s Bloomfield neighborhood. While the majority of the school is housed in a historic Victorian-era mansion, Waldorf asked Bohlin Cywinski Jackson to develop a new standalone classroom for eighth graders, reflective of its core values and responsive to this pivotal stage of student development and growth.

The design team explored Waldorf’s experiential approach to education, which encourages children to learn through their “head, heart and hands.” In the Waldorf educational model, the eighth grade is an important transitional period — a time when students are supported while they gain independence and learn to feel at home in the world. The school is also committed to nurturing an appreciation for nature and wanted to create a healthy learning environment as well as building that would serve as an educational tool. This provided an opportunity for our team to leverage past experience with Core Green Building Certification and WELL Building Standard requirements from the outset of the design process. …


Fostering Connections at ANSYS Hall

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© Chuck Choi

ANSYS Hall is an example of what is possible when an academic facility is designed collaboratively. It’s about integrating public-private interest, encouraging idea-sharing and embracing opportunities for connection. The 36,000-square-foot mixed-use building, designed for Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering, is a partnership with the engineering software company ANSYS, Inc., weaving together a network of makerspaces and uniting its occupants.

The addition of ANSYS Hall on the campus mall unlocks access points and increases functionality, not only for this artfully planned building but the whole ecosystem in which it resides. Acting as a unifier on campus, the high-bay makerspace, classrooms, labs, and offices provide valuable resources, as well as allow for better use of adjacent facilities. ANSYS Hall has a transformational effect at CMU through its integration into the historic campus context, its adaptive, flexible design, and the ability to spark new ideas through visual connection and knowledge sharing. …


On Friday, October 2, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Associate Garrett Reynolds, AIA LEED AP was honored with a 2020 Young Architect Award by AIA Seattle at its (virtual) President’s Dinner. Young Architect awards are given to individuals licensed fewer than 10 years who have shown exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the profession. In addition to his accomplished design career to date, Garrett was also recognized for his passion for community involvement, research, and writing.

“When he joined Bohlin Cywinski Jackson in 2016, Garrett’s exceptional skills made an immediate and significant contribution to our practice on many levels.” …


Senator John Heinz History Center, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Senator John Heinz History Center, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Senator John Heinz History Center © Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

The industrial buildings that have long contributed to Pittsburgh’s character present a unique opportunity for considering the future. For architects, these buildings offer a tactile and fertile framework for reimagination and re-use — an opportunity to weave sustainability and community into a project’s DNA, and, in turn, foster equitable outcomes and hyper-local innovation.

On Tuesday, September 29th, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson held the latest virtual event in our Year of Gathering series, focused on the power of adaptive re-use in post-industrial cities like Pittsburgh to strengthen communities and create authentic and sustainable ecosystems for innovation. Kent Suhrbier, AIA, a principal in Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s Pittsburgh studio, was joined by Don Carter, FAIA, a senior research fellow at the Remaking Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University; Petra Mitchell, president and CEO of Catalyst Connection, a not-for-profit that provides consulting and training services to manufacturers; and Alicia Volcy with Studio Volcy, a design and development consultancy. …


A Look at Adaptive Re-use in a Changing Neighborhood

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© Cbaile19, Heinz Factory Buildings, North Side, Pittsburgh

America’s industrial cities have gone through a cycle of innovation, production, shifting demographics, and reinvention. As architects, we play a critical hand in shaping their recovery, taking on complex adaptive re-use projects rich in culture and history. The challenge for these projects is finding a balance between old and new. We eagerly consider what can be gained from embracing heritage while improving building safety, occupant wellbeing, and efficiency. One example of such a project is a recent office renovation for a predominate tech client in a historic warehouse on the shores of the Allegheny River.

The Heinz Company purchased or developed more than twenty buildings as part of an industrial campus within the Troy Hill Neighborhood between 1888 and the 1930s. Occupied in varied capacities up until 2001, the Heinz Company sold off the dormant buildings to developers in 2004, paving the way for a live-work renaissance in the area. In 2002, the structures were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the building we renovated was not part of this older central block of buildings, its historic importance still stands as part of the growth of this predominantly German immigrant neighborhood and its path towards rediscovery. …


Rethinking Home: A New Approach for the Next Chapter

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Light Path (New Residence) © Nicholas Snyder, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Occasionally, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has the opportunity to design a second home for a previous residential client. Even rarer is when the new structure is built on the same property as the original house. For the client and the practice, this new home is a moment to pause and reflect, evaluate previous work, and reimagine the landscape. It’s a transformative process for both the architect and the residents. And fortunately for us, a couple recently provided just this opportunity.

Our clients first worked with Peter Bohlin in the 1970s when, as a young couple, they hired our practice to design a house on nineteenth-century farmland in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The couple had long explored and appreciated the surrounding woods and wished to build a home there in which to raise their children. Integrated into the gently sloping landscape, the 5,800 square-foot house was built on the foundation walls of the original barn. …

About

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Designing buildings that inspire connection and wonder in every person who experiences them.

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