Impact Services Corporation, a social services agency that offers job training and supportive housing, has been headquartered in a former carpet mill in Kensington since the late ‘70’s. Last year, Impact Services approached the Community Design Collaborative for advice on how to refresh the exterior of its two “vintage” factory buildings and make them stand out along busy Allegheny Avenue.
The Collaborative redefined the project scope to address several overarching issues: how to reorganize the facility to function more effectively, how best could it introduce a new element to the site—affordable rental housing for some of Philadelphia’s neediest families reunited after homelessness, and how to add green space without sacrificing off-street parking.
A multidisciplinary team of Collaborative volunteer design professionals developed a conceptual master plan that addressed these issues and created a blueprint for improvements. The design is now helping stir excitement for the project and secure funding.
Steve Culbertson, Director of Housing Development at Impact Services, discovered real benefits in working with Collaborative volunteers Jeffrey Brummer, Lauren Ulmer, Aaron Miller, Kate Brower, Roman Torres and Kristen Smith. “It was a positive experience interacting with the team. They surveyed the site and talked with us about our needs and then spent time developing a design,” said Culbertson.
Collaboration between designers from different fields and staff from Impact Services fostered creative proposals. “We had a diverse group of people sharing ideas, which meant we got a better product than if it had just been us and an architect. It helped the design go outside of the box,” remarked Culbertson.
Now, the Collaborative’s floor plans, site plans, and renderings are helping Culbertson move forward with raising funds for major construction. “The design has allowed us to apply for funding at an earlier stage and helped us make the case to our funders,” explained Culbertson.