Ballinger was one of the first firms in the country to merge the disciplines of architecture and engineering into a professional practice, in recognition of the need to thoughtfully integrate complex spaces and systems for human comfort and building performance. One hundred and forty-two years later this mission remains as relevant as ever, and is carried out by a staff of over 250 located in a single studio in Center City.
In addition to serving healthcare, higher education and corporate clients, the firm dedicates resources to communities in need through the Community Design Collaborative. Ballinger employees have been matched with more than ten nonprofit-led community development ventures, including CoLab PHL -- a converted Airstream trailer designed to bring health programming to communities in need -- and a project to re-imagine several SEPTA viaduct underpasses as colorful, bright, art-filled spaces that reconnect residents in North Central Philadelphia.
As of 2019, Ballinger volunteers have donated over 600 hours of pro bono architectural and engineering assistance to the Collaborative. In 2012, Ballinger made a ten-year financial commitment to the Collaborative through the City of Philadelphia’s Community Development Tax Credit program. This has enabled the Collaborative to focus on the important work of ensuring that high-quality design is accessible to everyone.
In 2017 the Collaborative honored Ballinger with its Leverage Award, which recognizes local leaders and celebrates the leveraging of sought-after skills of design professionals to help Philadelphia nonprofits launch life-changing projects. Ballinger Senior Principal Terry Steelman, FAIA accepted the award and reminded local firms of the diverse benefits the Collaborative provides to the community. "People need to look at philanthropic energies in two ways. Often they see how they are giving back, but firm leaders in particular need to appreciate that they get something in return. Their staff gets enlightenment and fulfillment that breeds esprit de corps. Leadership through philanthropic engagement strengthens employee interpersonal skills, decision-making, and growth. And the community as a whole benefits," he said.
In recognition of our work together to improve Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Business Journal selected the partnership between the Collaborative and Ballinger as one of Philadelphia’s Faces of Philanthropy in 2017.
Ballinger continues to support the Collaborative, by volunteering on design grants and serving on Collaborative committees. Ballinger designer Sarah Blitzer, RA recently began volunteering on a design grant to reinvigorate and expand a historic church. She described the opportunity as “a way to connect with Philadelphians I wouldn’t otherwise meet, and to take on new project responsibilities. It’s also been fun to make new connections in the industry and experience a project of a different scale. Ultimately, it’s a chance to use my skills and knowledge as an architect to give back to the community.”