Clark Patterson Lee | Blog Clark Patterson Lee Blog en Copyright 2021 2021-05-15T00:49:29-04:00 <![CDATA[BROADCAST: Growth and Opportunity take Center Stage in CPL's Vision 2025]]>

As a firm, we see a bright future filled with great possibilities and even greater opportunity for our people and our clients.

During the long months of the pandemic in 2020, many of us at CPL spent time reflecting on our future. We engaged in leadership workshops; conducted meetings with our clients and community partners; and collaborated with team members to bring focus to where we’re going as an organization. We also renewed our commitment to the beliefs and values that served us well for the past 45 years. The result is CPL’s Vision 2025, a declaration that we intend to actively shape our future by keeping what we love about CPL, while setting a course for new opportunities. We are excited to share this Vision with our clients and the communities that we serve.

Growth, opportunity and community emerged as themes deeply embedded in our Vision. In fact, growth and opportunity are linked in a continuous and purposeful loop. By expanding our footprint; adding service lines; and enhancing our workflows, we will perpetually raise the bar on quality, innovation and value for clients. Simultaneously, growth brings greater opportunity for our people to flourish as professionals and members of their community.

Vision 2025 also recognizes that our plans for expansion will require an organizational structure that can scale and grow with us. Therefore, we have developed ‘a network of teams’ approach to leadership. This minimizes silos while strengthening connectivity and allows us to launch agile teams that are tailor-made for each project. In this new framework, I will remain as CEO and will have direct oversight on matters that involve our Vision, strategy, and growth - both organically and through acquisition.

Another important leadership announcement is the elevation of Richard B. Henry, III, P.E. to the role of President. Rick now oversees an integrated web of five core practice areas including: Healthcare; Higher Education; K-12 Education; Municipal; and Transportation. As President, Rick will provide connectivity across teams and geographies, and will ensure we can focus on our clients in a seamless way.

From a governance perspective, we have added two Board of Director seats for a total of seven (7) members. We also have two board observer seats. Daniel D. Duprey, Jr., P.E. is now Chairman of the Board and Timothy S. Knapp, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP is our Vice-Chair.

Shaping our future also involves targeted investment in technology. Our clients see the value in being able to visualize a project or gather insight into public sentiment via new technologies. We will continue to introduce tools that deepen the personal connections with our clients that are so critical to our work.

A changing future does not mean we lose the very best parts of our culture. We strive to be an inclusive organization where everyone plays to their strengths. Our B.I.D. (Belonging, Inclusion and Diversity) for Unity Committee is supporting our efforts in this regard. Likewise, our continued commitment to intentional design thinking, in all of our practice areas, will ensure we stay focused on our craft.

I can’t say enough about the dedication and hard work put forth by our team members throughout the past 18 months. They have shown resilience in the face of unprecedented uncertainty and continue to demonstrate innovation in how projects are designed and delivered. Perhaps most importantly, our team has shown grace and patience as we accommodate recurring school disruptions; healthcare concerns; long days that blur the line between work and home; plus, the underlying stressors brought on by the pandemic.

I am heartened to see that our commitment to our clients, our communities and to each other is still strong. It is this grounding sense of community that underpins everything at CPL and is the foundation for our Vision 2025.

<![CDATA[BULLETIN: CPL Welcomes New Team Member in Binghamton]]> Contact: Michelle Draghi
Marketing Manager

Binghamton, N.Y. — CPL, a full-service design firm that has served public and private-sector clients for more than 45 years, is pleased to welcome Denise Getchell to its marketing team in Binghamton, NY.

In her new role as Marketing Coordinator, Getchell will support marketing and business development efforts for the firm’s municipal practice team. She brings extensive experience developing custom responses to Request for Proposals (RFPs) and Request for Qualifications (RFQs) for a wide range of project types. She also has a passion for creative writing and design, and is well versed in using the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of programs.

Prior to joining CPL, Getchell served as Marketing Coordinator at Delta Engineers, Architects & Surveyors. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Binghamton University and an Associate of Applied Science degree in graphic design from Sullivan County Community College.

About CPL
Founded in 1975, CPL is a 450-person multi-disciplined architecture, engineering and planning firm offering inspiring design services and enriching communities in 19 cities across five states. CPL specializes in the Healthcare, Transportation, Municipal and Academic sectors – providing architectural, interior design, civil engineering, buildings and structural engineering, planning, landscape architecture and 3D/virtual design services to a host of public and private clients. Visit to learn more.

<![CDATA[BULLETIN: CPL Welcomes New Team Member in Poughkeepsie]]> Contact: Michelle Draghi
Marketing Manager

Poughkeepsie, N.Y. — CPL, a full-service design firm that has served public and private-sector clients for more than 45 years, is pleased to welcome Wilson Suzuki to its civil engineering team in Poughkeepsie, NY.

As a Civil Design Engineer, Suzuki will perform a number of tasks including: the planning and design of small and large sized projects; data collection and analysis; preparation of maps and plans; stormwater management; grading; and erosion control associated with civil and municipal infrastructure projects. He brings ample experience overseeing a variety of construction projects and building cohesive teams focused on achieving project goals.

Suzuki’s respected leadership and communication skills can be attributed to his role as Operations Officer for the United States Army Engineer Corps. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and holds several certifications including the Global Combat Support System-Army (SAP) Maintenance Manager (40 hours) certification, the State of Alaska Water and Wastewater Treatment Provisional Level certification, and the United States Secret Security Clearance.

Outside the office, Suzuki is a steadfast volunteer having worked as a Ranger at Philmont South Ranch, guiding Boy Scout Troops on backpacking trips in Northern New Mexico, and volunteering over 500 hours with the West Point Scoutmaster’s Council.

About CPL
Founded in 1975, CPL is a 450-person multi-disciplined architecture, engineering and planning firm offering inspiring design services and enriching communities in 19 cities across five states. CPL specializes in the Healthcare, Transportation, Municipal and Academic sectors – providing architectural, interior design, civil engineering, buildings and structural engineering, planning, landscape architecture and 3D/virtual design services to a host of public and private clients. Visit to learn more.

<![CDATA[BULLETIN: CPL Welcomes New Team Member in Charlotte]]> Contact: Michelle Draghi
Marketing Manager

Charlotte, N.C. — CPL, a full-service design firm that has served public and private-sector clients for more than 45 years, is pleased to welcome Jorge Cruz to its architectural team in Charlotte, NC.

Cruz will serve as Architectural Designer, responsible for providing architectural design and production support for a variety of project types throughout the schematic, design development and construction document phases. He brings knowledge and experience designing structures in the hospitality, retail, residential and community sectors.

Prior to joining CPL, Cruz served as Project Lead for 505Design.He has a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture, both from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

About CPL
Founded in 1975, CPL is a 450-person multi-disciplined architecture, engineering and planning firm offering inspiring design services and enriching communities in 19 cities across five states. CPL specializes in the Healthcare, Transportation, Municipal and Academic sectors – providing architectural, interior design, civil engineering, buildings and structural engineering, planning, landscape architecture and 3D/virtual design services to a host of public and private clients. Visit to learn more.

<![CDATA[BULLETIN: CPL Welcomes New Team Member in Buffalo]]> Contact: Michelle Draghi
Marketing Manager

Buffalo, N.Y. — CPL, a full-service design firm that has served public and private-sector clients for more than 45 years, is pleased to welcome Anthony Baric, EIT to its civil engineering team in Buffalo, NY.

In his new role as Construction Inspector, Baric will support the civil engineering team on a variety of project types including roadway, public water main, sanitary sewer and storm sewer projects. An organized, self-starter, he brings expertise in programs like AutoCAD, Civil3D, Revit and ArcGIS.

Prior to joining CPL, Baric served as Construction Inspector for Sullivan County and the New York State Department of Transportation. He has a Bachelor of Applied Science in civil engineering from the University of Windsor and is a certified Engineer in Training (EIT).

About CPL
Founded in 1975, CPL is a 450-person multi-disciplined architecture, engineering and planning firm offering inspiring design services and enriching communities in 19 cities across five states. CPL specializes in the Healthcare, Transportation, Municipal and Academic sectors – providing architectural, interior design, civil engineering, buildings and structural engineering, planning, landscape architecture and 3D/virtual design services to a host of public and private clients. Visit to learn more.

<![CDATA[BULLETIN: CPL Welcomes New Team Members in Albany]]> Contact: Michelle Draghi
Marketing Manager

Albany, N.Y. — CPL, a full-service design firm that has served public and private-sector clients for more than 45 years, is pleased to welcome Wai Kit Chan, EIT and Benjamin Wolfe, P.E. to its growing team in Albany, NY.

Chan joins the structural engineering team as a Structural Designer. Passionate about problem-solving and developing sustainable, structural solutions, he brings extensive project experience in bridge inspection, water/wastewater facilities, utility structures, monorail crane systems, transportation structures and facility condition assessments.

Prior to joining CPL, Chan served as Structural Engineer at CDM Smith, Inc. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering with a structural emphasis from the University of Michigan and an Associates of Applied Science degree in engineering science from Hudson Community College. Additionally, Chat has also completed the NASSCO Pipeline, Manhole, and Lateral Assessment Certification programs (MACP, MACP, LACP), and is a certified Engineer in Training (EIT).

In his new role, Wolfe will serve as Senior Highway Engineer, responsible for planning and overseeing transportation engineering services including design plans for new and rehabilitated transportation systems. With more than 16 years of experience working on traffic and transportation projects throughout New York State, he has deep expertise in facilitating all phases of traffic impact studies as well transportation planning studies. He also brings extensive experience developing plans for Work Zone Traffic Control, varying between simple lane closures to complex phasing and staffing schemes for various high-profile projects.

Wolfe previously served as Senior Engineer at Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and holds professional engineering licensure in the state of New York.

About CPL
Founded in 1975, CPL is a 450-person multi-disciplined architecture, engineering and planning firm offering inspiring design services and enriching communities in 19 cities across five states. CPL specializes in the Healthcare, Transportation, Municipal and Academic sectors – providing architectural, interior design, civil engineering, buildings and structural engineering, planning, landscape architecture and 3D/virtual design services to a host of public and private clients. Visit to learn more.

<![CDATA[BUZZ: ENR 2021 Top 500 Design Firms]]> CPL is honored to have made Engineering News Record's list of Top 500 Design Firms again, up six spots from last year's rankings. Companies are ranked according to revenue for design services performed in 2020.

Click here to see the full list of rankings >

<![CDATA[BLOG: The 6 Keys to Designing Autistic-Friendly Educational Spaces]]> Making inclusivity a priority in education design is a necessary step to ensure all students receive equal learning opportunities.

The physical space that any student occupies at school has a strong influence on their ability to learn effectively. For students with autism, this reality is heightened.

Autistic minds are often hypersensitive to their surrounding environment. On both a sensorimotor and cognitive level, these individuals experience deficits in communication and social skills as well as restricted or repetitive behaviors (Autism Spectrum Disorder Basics, Child Mind Institute). Catering the design of our schools to these behaviors is a necessary step to ensure all students receive equal learning opportunities.

As designers, we must be conscientious of neurodiverse children and create comfortable, appropriately stimulating spaces where they can thrive. At a minimum, these are the key elements that must always be considered when designing autistic-friendly educational spaces.

1) Lighting
Light and color deeply affect a person’s mood and behavior. Autism friendly lighting design must incorporate a healthy combination of dimmable, indirect LED fixtures (no fluorescents) and natural light to provide a mitigated amount of stimulation

Lighting Design Tip: If the outside world is too stimulating, blinds or translucent window films can be invaluable for easing visual distractions.

2) Acoustics
Children with autism are highly sensitive to everyday sounds and background noises. Providing better insulated spaces can have a significant impact on their ability to focus and concentrate.

Acoustical Design Tip: Flooring solutions that use rubber or cushioned back materials can help mask high frequency sounds. Similarly, any wall coverings or ceiling treatments that use breathable fabrics with noise reduction properties can be applied to aid in sound absorption.

3) Sensory Design
Often, the smallest sensory design consideration can have an insurmountable impact on a student with autism. This makes it important to design ‘sensory sensitive’ educational spaces that are responsive to varying preferences in smells, sounds, visual stimuli, and the way certain objects and materials feel.

Sensory Design Tips: Stay away from Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paints and incorporate natural ventilation to enhance air movement. Consider the application of visual cues through wayfinding floor patterns or virtual floor signage to enhance navigation through hallways. Most importantly, provide easy access to tactile surfaces and features to help students relax, focus or calm down from an overwhelming scenario.

4) Furniture
'Sensory sensitive’ design also applies to strategic furniture selection. To ensure maximum comfort, it is important to stay away from certain textiles and fabrics that can be distressing to children with autism.

Furniture Design Tip: Opting for plush yet durable materials is beneficial for potential repetitive touching. Additionally, choosing sleek, easily sanitized finishes are helpful for those who may have a compulsive-like need for cleanliness.

5) The Power of Choice
During a moment of overstimulation, many children with autism can experience ‘sensory overload’ and exhibit abstruse social responses. When this happens at school, it is crucial that students are given the flexibility to choose safe coping mechanisms for themselves.

Power of Choice Design Tip: Creating easy access to designated ‘sensory rooms’ or ‘escape spaces’ inside schools can offer students immense comfort and respite from distressing experiences or interactions.

6) Programmatic Needs
There are important responsibilities placed on schools, teachers and other professionals who work directly with children with autism. One of the best things schools can do is offer effective instructional programs that utilize strong therapeutic interventions and procedures.

Program Design Tip: Effective wayfinding and one-way directional paths can help students with autism better navigate through potentially crowded, overstimulated hallways. Coordinating this with strategic signage and graphic selection is an excellent safeguard to improve navigation.

Designers too, have a responsibility to work with schools to create welcoming and resilient spaces that are suitable for all students. Therefore, these key elements are not exclusive to autistic-friendly spaces; they translate to every building for everyone.


<![CDATA[BULLETIN: Moore County Cuts the Ribbon on New Recreation Center at Hillcrest Park]]> Contact: Michelle Draghi
Marketing Manager

Carthage, N.C. — A ribbon-cutting event was held in late March of 2021 to celebrate the opening of Moore County’s newest sports complex.

Ribbon cutting at the Dedication of the Moore County Sports Complex on March 18, 2021

Located on the popular Hillcrest Park Campus in Carthage, North Carolina, this 21,000 s.f. facility is equipped with two gymnasiums, each with high school regulation basketball/volleyball courts; a multipurpose room that can seat up to 50 people; restrooms and a concession area; as well as offices for the County’s Parks and Recreation staff.

Among those who attended the celebration was CPL Architect, Rachel Nilson, AIA, who has seen this project evolve from its very beginning stages.

“From day one, we envisioned this facility to serve as a pillar for community growth and activity,” said Nilson. “Our team worked very closely with the County’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee to design something that the community would utilize and cherish for years to come. It feels rewarding to see it come to fruition.”

Exterior rendering of Moore County Sports Complex

Exterior completed design of Moore County Sports Complex

CPL led the charge in creating the project’s Master Plan as well as providing architectural and interior design services. Additional project team members included structural engineers from Lynch Mykins, civil engineers from Wetherill Engineering, and M/E/P engineers from AME Consulting.

Moore County Capital Projects Manager, Richard Smith, was thrilled with the entire project team’s level of knowledge, patience, and decision-making skills.

“Rachel Nilson and the entire CPL team have masterfully guided the County of Moore through this process,” said Smith. “They were our top choice out of many firms we interviewed and have proven us right again and again. To say we had a good experience would be an understatement – it was a great experience.”

“The complex has enough capacity to accommodate anything from athletic tournaments and youth leagues to summer camps and regional events,” said Nilson. “It’s going to be a great place for children and adults from all over the County to gather and recreate.”

About CPL
Founded in 1975, CPL is a 450-person multi-disciplined architecture, engineering and planning firm offering inspiring design services and enriching communities in 19 cities across five states. CPL specializes in the Healthcare, Transportation, Municipal and Academic sectors – providing architectural, interior design, civil engineering, buildings and structural engineering, planning, landscape architecture and 3D/virtual design services to a host of public and private clients. Visit to learn more.

<![CDATA[BUZZ: Engineering Georgia's 50 Women In the Know]]> Throughout the complexities of the last 12 months, these "Women in the Know" have continued their steadfast contributions to Georgia's engineering and land development.

Among the 50 professionals featured on Georgia Engineering's latest list is CPL Planner, Rebecca Keefer, AICP. With more than a decade of industry experience, Rebecca has played a role in transforming communities and developing planning solutions that set them up for long-term success.

> Click here see the full list

<![CDATA[BUZZ: The Top 100 Influential Women in Engineering Georgia]]> Nominated and selected by their peers, the women who appear on Engineering Georgia's list of Influential Women directly impact Georgia's continued economic growth and development.

CPL is proud to recognize Principal, Jennifer Harper, P.E., who is featured on this year's list. With more than 25 years of experience in transportation design and program management, Jennifer has developed a strong reputation for building and maintaining solid relationships at all levels of local governments, the private sector, and the state and federal agencies.

> Click here to read more

<![CDATA[BUZZ: Women of Excellence Honorees Announced]]> The recipients of the Rochester Business Journal’s 2021 Women of Excellence awards have been selected, and CPL Principal Architect, Michelle Trott, AIA, NCARB, ACHA, is among the list of honorees.

The Women of Excellence awards identify high-achieving women for their tremendous career accomplishments. The women are selected based on their professional experience, community involvement, leadership and sustained commitment to mentoring.

> Click here to read more

<![CDATA[BUZZ: Pandemic a Catalyst for Companies to Prioritize Flexibility, Wellness for Women]]> CPL Chief Culture Officer, Kathy Metcalfe, shares her perspective on how the pandemic has been a catalyst for companies to prioritize flexibility and wellness for women.

> Click here to read full article featured in the Rochester Business Journal

<![CDATA[BLOG: The Library Architype — New Chapters, New Champions]]> For centuries, libraries have served as archives for art and records, epicenters for learning, and eventually, repositories for books. As mainstays of community, how could anything replace them? Yet, beginning with public access to the internet 40 years ago, many began to speculate that brick and mortar libraries were at their end. However, there are indeed champions in the library story.

CPL, together with design-build partner, CT Darnell Construction, and library specialists, 720Design, recently provided leadership in planning, design, engineering and construction to help write the next chapter for six aging libraries in Fulton County, GA.

The CPL / 720Design team along with CT Darnell Construction was the unanimous choice for the Atlanta/Fulton County Library System’s (AFCLS) $11 million, six library design-build program. Outside of routine maintenance, none of the libraries had seen improvements since their decades-old original construction. The time to upgrade and enhance these community assets had never been more apparent.

Following initial team engagement meetings led by 720 Design, CPL developed six unique solutions, each one seeking a sustainability design minimum certification of Silver, using the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System. The solutions also included community-inspired design themes like bohemian arts and culture, collegiate/Ivy League, local issues, and even a “Library in the Park.”

Adams Park Library, Fulton County Library System, Fulton County, GA

Strategic interior design enhancements included the use of barn doors in place of traditional doors to easily expand program space; the replacement of large service desks with smaller, service kiosks to open floor plans and promote patron/staff interaction; and the creation of larger community spaces with movable furniture, Wi-Fi touch-down points and study pods. In some of the libraries, staff was even relocated to allow for more natural light in high traffic common areas.

In addition to individual customizations for each library, all facilities received optimized seating with dedicated use areas for adults, teens and children; mechanical, electrical, plumbing and technology system upgrades; ADA accessibility and compliance upgrades; significant site improvements with native landscaping; and brighter finishes and furnishings to add character and elevate the overall look and feel.

East Atlanta Library, Fulton County Library System, Fulton County, GA

Library specialist and founder of 720Design, Maureen Arndt, AIA, IIDA, said, “Each design concept was highly specialized, responding to community culture, requests, and consensus. Information gathered was run through the lens of budget and facility assessment requirements and then synthesized with high design to transform the libraries into hubs of customizable, activity generating, educational community spaces.”

Ponce de Leon Library, Fulton County Library System, Fulton County, GA

With sustainability goals in mind, CPL’s in-house team of engineers played a key role in providing critical building system changes such as the new roof-mounted mechanical units at the Cleveland Avenue Library branch. They also performed a comprehensive structural evaluation to determine if a large solar array installation, slated to supply 40% of the buildings power, could be supported.

All upgraded building systems met the County’s environmentally conscious initiatives and even contributed to reaching their sustainability goals. In the end, all six libraries met or exceeded the desired LEED certification, with the Cleveland Avenue Library achieving LEED Platinum certification—the only LEED Platinum library in the state of Georgia.

Cleveland Avenue Library, Fulton County Library System, Fulton County, GA

CPL Principal Architect, K. Scott Gordon, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, and Project Manager, Kirk Edwards, AIA, both surmised, “The 21st century iteration of the library is less about being a repository and more about space: space for social interaction, education, and community connections. Through listening to the communities, the CPL team captured and delivered precisely what these aging branches needed to reenergize and revive each unique community they serve. We are privileged to use our talents as planners, architects, and engineers to serve and witness six unique visions take flight. We are grateful to the ACFLS and the Fulton County Board of Commissioners for the opportunity.”

Modern libraries offer much more than a digital experience ever can. Their physicality nurtures communities through vital connection and endless learning. In renovating the AFCLS libraries, the CPL / 720 Design team together with CT Darnell Construction emerged as champions by giving six aging, out-of-date community libraries new life and a hopeful future that’s written to sustain each unique community for years to come.

CPL provided design leadership throughout project planning and construction with design/build partner, CT Darnell Construction, managing the budget and construction delivery. 720Design led interior design efforts on all six projects.

<![CDATA[BLOG: The Disparity in School Design — and the Responsibility we Have to Fix it ]]> The Disparity in School Design

Should you take the time to analyze the range of educational architecture that stands throughout the country — the design, condition, aesthetics and overall function of our school buildings — you’ll notice very quickly that significant disparities exist from school district to school district. This is important because recent studies have revealed distinct relationships between the quality of school buildings, the level of community engagement, and the overall performance of our students.

Consider the following school district examples that demonstrate the disparities found in today’s K-12 building designs and conditions.

School District A: The "ideal" school district

Situated in an affluent community, District A is one of the most highly regarded, top performing school districts in the country. Due to high levels of consistent funding over time, District A students receive their education in beautiful, modernized facilities with smart building systems, endless technical resources, and unique amenities. They have access to flexibly designed classrooms that receive abundant natural light, fully equipped media centers and computer labs with state-of-the-art technology, and well-maintained playgrounds and recreational fields for free and organized play.

Additionally, District A offers exceptional after school activities including athletic programs, band and orchestra classes, a variety of clubs, and even mentoring opportunities with local non-profits and community organizations. And let’s not forget about pride because boy does District A have lots of it. In every District A building, pride is evident throughout the hallways with dynamic visual elements reflecting the school colors, mascot, and inspirational quotes.

Opportunity is certainly knocking at every door in District A, which evidently sets District A students up for great success when they arrive at their respective schools.

School District B: The “complacent” school district

Like most school districts in the country, District B is doing “fine.” District B students attend school every day in buildings that may not be brand-new, but for the most part, they’re renovated, clean, and moderately maintained. They may still sit in boxy classrooms filled with rigid rows of old desks, but they’re also getting new smart boards installed soon, which they’re really excited about.

District B’s High School also has a nice organic turf field that gets tons of great use from their varsity football team. However, the community rarely attends District B’s Friday night football games, which ends up having a negative effect on the school’s spirit.

District B doesn’t live with abundance, but they also don’t necessarily live without. And while there may not be any “glaring” issues present for students at District B, when compared to District A, some obvious discrepancies can be seen.

School District C: The disadvantaged school district

Unfortunately, District C is made up of old, rundown buildings with leaky roofs, broken heating and ventilation systems, and even duct taped windows in certain parts of their facilities. District C students aren’t given personal laptops or up-to-date textbooks. Instead, they’re sitting in crowded classrooms using outdated resources that are failing to keep up with 21st century learning.

All of this contributes to lower rates of success for District C students. Their unsafe, dilapidated building conditions often cause them to experience more chronic absenteeism and lower graduation rates.

Even worse, District C is not the outlier.

The Government Accountability Office estimates that approximately 36,000 schools nationwide currently need to update or replace their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. And in 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers graded Americas’ school infrastructure with a D+.

Much of this unfortunate disparity in building quality and design is largely due to gaps in funding. The 2019 Local School Finance Study, conducted by the Public School Forum of North Carolina, found that the ten highest spending counties spent on average $3,200 per student, compared to $755 by the ten lowest spending counties, leaving a significant gap of $2,445 per student. Gaps like this appear all throughout the country.

Bridging the Gap

These hyperbolic depictions of District A, B and C are designed to emphasize the inequality that exists among school building design today. In a perfect world, we all want our children to attend schools like those in District A. We all want our students to walk through school buildings that are inspiring and uplifting; that encourage curiosity and collaboration; that spark creativity and motivation; and that serve as an inviting launch pad into their futures.

While we may not live in a “perfect world,” we do have the power to encourage and implement changes that can have positive effects on students no matter where they attend school. One way we can start to make a difference is in re-imagining how our schools and communities interact with one another.

What if all schools became more outward facing? What if it became ‘the rule,’ not ‘the exception,’ for schools to partner with the community on a regular basis? What if community leaders became vital, sought after resources for schools to tap into? What if business owners, healthcare providers, local artists or even successful realtors were able to become part of the school curriculum?

Designing Spaces for Community Engagement

Traditionally speaking, an architect isn’t expected to solve socioeconomic problems. Often, we’re simply called to provide solutions for the more technical, building-related issues.

At CPL, however, we believe architects and engineers have a responsibility to be stewards of positive change for our schools and communities. We view our role as one that uses design as a vehicle to make schools more outward facing, encourage community engagement, and instill a sense of pride and ownership for students.

Our design philosophy stems from a desire to introduce more inclusive practices that engage diverse communities and address historical disparities in the education system. We view the school building design process as a powerful tool that can help break negative cycles and inspire long-term, community engagement within school districts. Now more than ever, District B and C students desperately need this cycle to be broken so that student achievement can be elevated across the board.


<![CDATA[BLOG: Developing an Effective Zoning Ordinance — Tips from CPL Planner, Rebecca Keefer, AICP]]> When it comes to understanding the full impact that zoning ordinances have on a community’s long-term planning efforts, CPL Planner, Rebecca Keefer, AICP, is an excellent go-to resource. With more than a decade of experience in community planning, design development, visioning, master planning and public engagement, Keefer is well equipped to develop effective ordinances for any community’s planning documents.

Zoning ordinances play a significant role when implementing a community’s long-term planning efforts. As a critical follow-up to a set of planning documents, these rules help define how properties within specific zones can be developed. In doing so, they become very effective in directing private investments, helping communities achieve their desires and visions for growth.

The only thing worse than a set of ordinances that do not move a community toward its vision are ordinances that are contrary to it. Whether communities are in need of a full ordinance rewrite or more simple incremental changes, there are critical steps you should take to develop an effective zoning ordinance.

1. Analyze Current Ordinances

Where are your community’s strengths and weaknesses? Are there components working against your planning vision?

Identify these components and seek to understand what’s not being addressed in your ordinances today. Augment your regulations to guide private developments in a way that might not have been considered a “best practice” when your code was first written.

Additionally, identify the components that should be retained. Codes often tell a story and can be reactions to issues from the past. Make sure you’re not writing those important vestiges out of your code with a complete rewrite. Pinpoint those sections early and verify that they are included in the drafts.

2. Make Policy Recommendations

Policies can be very effective at communicating illustrative visions for the future growth of a community. Develop a set of general recommendations that assist in translating the visioning documents into regulatory language. For example, if walkability is important to your community, identify policies that support a walkable district (i.e. access management, wide sidewalks, mix of uses, street trees and lighting, maximum block dimensions, etc.).

3. Create Organized Outline

The best zoning ordinances are always thoughtfully organized and numbered. But what’s the big deal with numbering ordinances anyway?

Have you ever had to make one small tweak to your ordinance text, and as a result had to re-number the remaining half of the document? How about cutting a section for a plan review? Are the section numbers duplicated, requiring a long string of article, title, and division of numbers to properly identify the relevant section?

That’s why numbering is essential. Determine an intuitive hierarchy of ordinance sections based on your community’s priorities with an expandable numbering format.

4. Draft and Review Ordinances

Once drafted, release the ordinances to your elected community officials. Work with your legal team to mitigate risks and test the ordinances on real situations to understand how they would work as applied. You’d be surprised to learn just how many issues you can flesh out by giving ample consideration to how they would work on real development.

Allow all stakeholders to provide meaningful feedback on the projected impacts—that’s residents, developers, builders, community groups, etc. They all play an important role in this process.

5. Manage the Transitions

Develop easy-to-use guidelines, flow charts and code-user trainings that outline major ordinance changes and new directions. Above all, never consider your work with zoning ordinance fully complete. Maintain the ordinances over time through regular and periodic updates to keep them current and effective.

Good zoning ordinances and codes are the foundations upon which great communities are built. When done well, they become the framework that regulates future development and they make it easier for a community to implement its vision.

<![CDATA[BROADCAST: School of Health Professions Gives Dalton State Students a Jump Start on their Medical Careers]]>

A 1978 technical education building turned state-of-the-art school of health professions.

The School of Health Professions at Dalton State College offers exceptional inter-disciplinary education to students who are preparing to enter the health and human services workforce. Under this roof is where they gather to learn the practical, hands-on skills they need to be successful post graduation.

<![CDATA[BLOG: Dynamic First Impressions]]>

Gone are the days where a lobby is just a space to pass through.

The Erie County Medical Center's (ECMC) lobby features several influential design elements that are essential to leaving visitors with a positive impression of their business and their brand. Step inside this 360 degree scan of the space, and use your mouse to walk around and discover our tips for creating a welcoming, dynamic lobby design.

<![CDATA[BLOG: BCS Leads to Transformative STEAM Classroom Additions]]> A Building Condition Survey isn’t just a mandate from the State Education Department. It’s an opportunity to plan and implement outstanding improvements in your District.

Enhance education, create more secure learning environments, and yield higher performing facilities; those were the underlying goals that Cuba-Rushford Central School District Superintendent, Carlos Gildemeister, communicated to CPL when we embarked on our journey working with the District. Our first step consisted of a comprehensive campus-wide study, as part of the District’s most recent Building Condition Survey.

Work included an intense evaluation of building systems, detailed studies to better understand where building and user functionality could be improved, in-depth safety audits of visitor entries, electrical panel infrared studies, and multiple building envelope assessments. The findings told a classic story of aging equipment and infrastructure, which meant it was time to take action before minor inconveniences became much bigger, more expensive hurdles.

As a “Destination District,” Cuba-Rushford had a variety of asset preservation and programmatic goals in mind, which CPL helped them achieve through a combination of large and small projects that were not only baked into a five-year strategy, but were also intentionally scalable to fit within a variety of project funding streams.

Key highlights included:

— New dynamic, flexibly designed classrooms for evolving STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) curriculum
— Expanded Special Education program to better serve student population
— New indoor walking track to promote wellness for students and the community
— Energy efficiency for annual cost savings

Click to learn more about Cuba-Rushford CSD's STEAM Classroom Additions >


<![CDATA[BUZZ: Fulton County Libraries in Group 3 of Renovation Project Achieve LEED Certification]]> On February 18, 2021, five of Fulton County Library System’s Group 3 library projects were awarded the very prestigious LEED Platinum, LEED Gold and/or LEED Silver certifications. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

"Fulton’s LEED Program Administrator, 2M Design Consultants, Inc. (2M), was instrumental in achieving this important certification, along with the program management team of CBRE-HEERY/RUSSELL Joint Venture Team, C.T. Darnell Construction, the awarded design-build company who beautifully designed and renovated the state-of-the-art high performance green libraries. Special thanks goes to the design teams of CPL - Architects, Engineers, Planners and 720 Design; LEED Consulting and LEED Commissioning by Merrick & Company, in concert with the entire professional team for the design and renovation of these LEED High Performance Green Libraries."

>> Click here to read the full press release featured on