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Finding the Right Balance: Collaborative Co-Chair Richard Winston

At the head of the table: Dick Winston leads a design charrette team exploring mixed-use development at 8th and Berks. “We’re benefiting people by creating a better environment," he says.
Richard Winston takes a thoughtful approach to his practice and his firm. His ability to find the right balance makes him a great choice for Collaborative Co-Chair.

Dick is Principal of BWA architecture + planning, an award-winning design firm that focuses on education, housing, and institutional projects.  “Across that matrix,” Dick says, “a fair percentage of the work is adaptive reuse and preservation, not at the exclusion of new construction. The mix gets us into crossover projects.”

For example, BWA recently converted the basement of Benjamin Franklin High School into the new Center for Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing and renovated AchieveAbility’s Von Louhr Apartments, the first affordable housing development in Philadelphia to combine low income housing tax credits and historic tax credits.

“To the extent that we can, we mix not-for-profit work with for profit work. Making not-for-profit projects part of the project mix is a core value of the firm, Dick adds.”

A lifelong belief in community design
“Community design was always part of my belief system,” says Dick. His involvement began when he was 19, when he volunteered with The People’s Workshop in New Brunswick, NJ while he was an undergraduate at Princeton University.

His involvement in the Collaborative came a little later at the prompting of Collaborative co-founder and former BWA staff member Dan Garofalo. “Dan suggested that I start by going to design reviews… and that led to the firm’s first project.”

Dick was already volunteering on his community’s land use and planning and teaching second year students at Drexel University. Busy with two “newborns” (a son and a design firm), Dick recalls, “I turned and looked in the direction of the Collaborative and saw huge communities that were not being served at all. I had to ask myself, ‘What’s the best, most rewarding use of my spare time?’ So I shifted emphasis.”

He initially participated in design reviews, the Collaborative’s peer reviews of projects in progress, “largely in support of young professionals. I found I could get some of the satisfaction I received from teaching from the committee work.”

That first step led to many others. Dick has been a member of the Collaborative’s Board since 2005 and has led the Design Services Committee since 2010.  He understands the Collaborative’s impact. “We’re benefiting people by creating a better environment.”

Mt. Tabor Cyber Village: A Design Grant led to an invitation to join the design and development team.

Volunteering as a firm
BWA has volunteered on a long list of projects through the Collaborative—including a new rowhouse prototype for Project HOME, a conceptual design for senior housing for Mt. Tabor CEED, a master plan to expand the Logan HOPE community school, and a conceptual design for gateways to the Somerset neighborhood and a streetscape to reanimate Frankford Avenue for New Kensington CDC.

The firm has done the legwork and follow-up for two design charrettes. BWA is currently designing streetscape and façade improvements for the intersection of 41st and Lancaster Avenue for People’s Emergency Center with a team that includes CVDA, DB-3D, and Alderson Engineering.

Dick says that volunteering with the Collaborative has “exposed the staff to our office philosophy in a more palpable way than just words.” He adds that it also helps BWA’s staff grow professionally. “We’ve had the chance to let middle and junior folks take a stronger lead in doing the projects.” More experienced staff has had opportunities to venture into new areas.

Dick Winston joins Co-Chair Paul Sehnert in leading the Collaborative’s Board of Directors in 2016. 

Frankford Gateways gave an architect on the BWA staff an opportunity to design streetscapes.


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