Clark Patterson Lee | Blog Clark Patterson Lee Blog en Copyright 2017 2017-12-16T15:32:40-05:00 <![CDATA[BLOG: Celebrating Team Member Promotions]]> At CPL, our team members are our greatest asset. As 2017 comes to an end, we'd like to extend heartfelt congratulations to the following members of our team who have, through hard work and incredible talent, gained recent promotions!

  • Eric Wies, Principal
  • Ron Rink, Principal Associate
  • Andrew Kosa, Principal Associate
  • Steve Tanner, Principal Associate
  • Bob Nordin, Senior Associate
  • Jason Streb, Associate
  • Molly Livingstone, Associate
  • Matt Dickison, Associate
  • Greg Neddo, Associate

<![CDATA[BLOG: Tour the Future CPL Woodstock Office Currently Under Construction]]> Teaming with CPL Creative Labs, the Woodstock office offers you a first glimpse at our new home. Click here to tour the future new space.

<![CDATA[BROADCAST: RRH Sands-Constellation Center for Critical Care]]>

The 6 story, 312,000 s.f. addition and renovation on the Rochester General Hospital campus marks a major milestone of growth and expansion for one of the region’s largest health systems. Once completed, the new patient bed tower will offer a state-of-the-art perioperative platform with 20 operation rooms, 26 post-anesthesia beds and 54 prep/recovery beds.There will also be 108 private acuity-adaptable patient rooms, a special care nursery featuring 14 private rooms for babies, 8 new labor and delivery rooms and 30 private post-partum beds for new mothers, and other support services.

Designed to be a high profile form on the campus, the Sands-Constellation Center for Critical Care will undoubtedly become the new face of Rochester General. Conceptual renderings show the upper form of the building as a large curve, which allows natural light to flood into patient rooms. The curve also softens the ‘edge’ of the building at the street level and provides a feeling of movement.

Adding to the overall user experience, both patients and visitors will experience breathtaking views, not only from their rooms but at special waiting areas on the corners of the building as the facility will feature full glass corners from floor to ceiling. The building will also incorporate terra cotta panels, which gives a modern take on brick (the primary material on the campus). Using two different terra cotta colors not only gives the building a lighter and more dynamic appearance, but it also brings harmony to the brick and limestone color scheme, which is prevalent on the main campus.

On May 10th, 2017, Rochester Regional Health (RRH) broke ground on the Center – complete with an inspiring program and hundreds of attendees. CPL CEO, Todd Liebert, participated in the shovel ceremony, which included dozens of hospital executives, donors and partners.

The CPL healthcare design team has worked hard to ensure the new building maintains visual context with its surroundings while still establishing itself as a modern, state-of-the-art complex. We are excited to be part of such a crucial project for RRH as it will help pave the way for long-term success.

<![CDATA[BULLETIN: Get to Know CPL's Chief Culture Officer]]> Check out CPL's Top Ten list of team building activities.

Contact: Michelle Draghi, Communications Coordinator
Clark Patterson Lee

As modern workplaces continue to evolve, company culture is playing a more prominent role in attracting and retaining talent. Culture also impacts the bottom line. Clark Patterson Lee (CPL) sees great value in fostering a positive and unique work culture, one that allows our talented staff to fall in love with what they do on a daily basis. As a result of rapid growth in workforce over the past two years, the demand to manage and build CPL’s irresistible culture highlighted the need for an internal culture specialist. In an effort to accommodate that need and continue on a path of growth and success, Kathy Metcalfe was named CPL’s first Chief Culture Officer (CCO) earlier this year.

In her new role as CCO, Metcalfe continues to lead the HR team by being the ultimate champion for workplace engagement and ensuring the company's culture is in alignment with our core values: Integrity – inspiration – ingenuity – collaboration – family – fun. She also facilitates the firm's engagement with Companies Are People Too (CAP2), a diagnostic assessment based on the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that measures the dynamic interaction of an organization's personality and provides a platform for intentional culture.

“I think it speaks volumes that our board members understand how an intentional culture can be the basis for a sustainable company,” Metcalfe said. “They also recognize that if you don’t strategically pilot the culture of your company, a culture will be created by default, and it may not be the one you want. That’s why I’m excited to identify and execute initiatives that support a high-performance workplace culture, one that ultimately engages staff, builds trust and infuses meaning into people’s work.”

One of Metcalfe’s biggest strengths is her ability to focus on what makes CPL fundamentally different. "It's our people," she said. "Our team members are our number one asset, which makes focusing on ways to bring more joy into their workplace a huge priority. At the end of the day, an intentional culture will help us retain talent."

This past year, there was a noticeable push towards a high impact learning culture; company wellness programs; and fun office outings, all of which support CPL’s mission to be “simply irresistible.” For example, CPL team members in the Carolinas took some time to recharge and spend time with colleagues outside the office at Topgolf in Charlotte, NC.

Additionally, team members of CPL’s Newburgh office got to enjoy a fun and unique office outing at iFly Indoor Skydiving, where employees were “blown away” (literally) by the opportunity to freefall in a vertical wind tunnel. Both events speak well to a “work hard play hard” mentality, and are aligned with the company's core values.

“We can’t assume that company culture is on auto-pilot,” said Metcalfe. “There must be a conscious effort in creating a workplace of which employees can be genuinely happy and proud.”

About Clark Patterson Lee

Founded in 1975, Clark Patterson Lee (CPL) is a 330-person multi-disciplined architecture, engineering and planning firm offering inspiring design services and enriching communities in 13 cities across 4 states. CPL specializes in the Healthcare, Transportation, Municipal and Academic sectors – providing architectural, interior design, civil engineering, structural engineering, planning, landscape architecture and 3D design services to a host of public and private clients. Visit to learn more.

<![CDATA[BUZZ: Clark Patterson Lee - Deeply Rooted in Genesee County]]> CPL is proud to support the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and was happy to be featured in the Genesee County Chamber Connection. Read the full story here.

<![CDATA[BUZZ: Top 100 - Clark Patterson Lee]]> CEO, Todd Liebert, sat down with the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce’s Robert Duffy to talk business and what it means to be a Top 100 company. Click here to see the full interview.

<![CDATA[BUZZ: Tour Highlights Progress Of Comedy Center]]> Tom Benson, National Comedy Center Chairman, and Journey Gunderson, National Comedy Center Executive Director, took The Post-Journal on a tour of the facility’s construction. Read more.

<![CDATA[BULLETIN: Clark Patterson Lee Welcomes Moser Mayer Phoenix Associates to the Team]]> Contact: Vince Press, Director of Communications
Clark Patterson Lee

Greensboro, NC - November 1, 2017 - Clark Patterson Lee (CPL), has extended its footprint in the southeastern United States by adding an office in Greensboro, NC. The new office comes with the exciting addition of Moser Mayer Phoenix Associates (MMPA), which includes Principals, William D. Moser, Jr., AIA, Kenneth C. Mayer, Jr., FAIA, Thomas H. Phoenix, PE, J. Alan Cox, AIA, and Cheryl S. Graeub, IIDA, and their team of twenty design professionals.

MMPA, Greensboro’s largest A/E firm, was established in 1986 as a full-service design firm and serves clients primarily in North Carolina and Virginia. CPL was founded in 1975 in Rochester, NY and, with the new Greensboro location, is a 330-person full-service design firm with 13 offices including Rochester, NY; Buffalo, NY; Albany, NY; Jamestown, NY; Olean, NY; Newburgh, NY; Binghamton, NY; Charlotte, NC; Raleigh, NC, Greenville, SC; and two in Atlanta, GA.

The two firms’ service offerings are complementary with notable project portfolios featuring award winning designs. In addition to the expertise MMPA provides to its clients in North Carolina and Virginia, expanded design expertise now include Healthcare, K-12 Schools, Transportation Engineering, Civil/Municipal Engineering and Landscape Architecture. Both firms have an outstanding reputation in the design of Education, Corporate, Municipal, Transportation and Recreation/Athletic Facilities. Some of CPL’s signature projects in the southeast include the Mint Museum (Charlotte, NC), South Carolina State Museum (Columbia, SC), Mercedes-Benz Stadium Pedestrian Bridge (Atlanta, GA), Dalton State College-Wright School of Business, Atlanta Motorsports Park-Trackside Business Center (Atlanta, GA) and the Pratt & Whitney Training Facility at Columbus Technical College (Columbus, GA).

In the northeastern US, CPL is designing the new $253 million Sands-Constellation Critical Care Center addition for the Rochester Regional Health System (Rochester, NY), the $57 million Seneca Park Zoo Expansion (Rochester, NY) and the $80 million renovation/expansion of the Orange County Government Center (Goshen, NY).

MMPA’s signature projects include First National Bank Field (Greensboro, NC), the J. Douglas Galyon Multimodal Center (Greensboro, NC), Lab Corp Corporate Headquarters (Burlington, NC), Greensboro Science Center SciQuarium, Duke University’s American Tobacco Complex and Cameron Indoor Stadium improvements (Durham, NC) and the Bridgwater College’s Nininger Hall Athletics Center (Bridgewater, VA). MMPA has served local government, non-profit organizations, corporate, higher education and recreation clients throughout North Carolina and Virginia.

It is anticipated that the Greensboro office will grow by ~15% over the next 18 months dependent on backlog and new business initiatives.


“Not only do our two firms complement each other in terms of practice disciplines, but there are also amazing synergies in our market segments and company cultures as well - with a focus on work-life balance, client success and community involvement. We recognized the fit from the very beginning.” – Todd Liebert, AIA, CEO Clark Patterson Lee

“My company joined CPL in 2011 as part of a merger and I can personally attest to the thoughtful approach we take in each of our strategic acquisitions. We focus a lot of energy on our talent recruitment, our client-centered care and maintaining a fun, productive company culture. We warmly welcome the MMPA team and clients to the family.” – Tim Knapp, AIA, LEED AP, Sr. VP Clark Patterson Lee

“We view this as a great opportunity for both our employees and clients alike. CPL already has a strong reputation and portfolio in the Carolinas, so expanding into the Triad region makes a great deal of business sense.” – Bill Moser, AIA, MMPA founder

“We look forward to continuing, and in many cases enhancing, our work and involvement in the Greensboro community; while also bringing additional resources to our clients throughout North Carolina, Virginia and elsewhere.” – Ken Mayer, FAIA, who will lead CPL’s Greensboro office

“The blending of MMPA’s 31 years of signature work in our community with the resources and experience of CPL’s east coast footprint, along with the resulting growth of the combined firms, will provide exciting opportunities for Greensboro and the greater Triad.” – Nancy Vaughan, Greensboro Mayor

“MMPA has been a strong partner to Greensboro College and other higher education institutions in Greensboro and beyond. It is exciting that, with the addition of Clark Patterson Lee’s resources and experience, these partnerships will continue to strengthen!” – Dr. Lawrence Czarda, President Greensboro College

“For 31 years, MMPA has been a leader in the physical design of our community; and their partners and other firm members have also played key leadership roles in many community initiatives. MMPA’s influence has made our community a better place. It is exciting that with the addition of Clark Patterson Lee’s resources, this high level of community engagement will continue.” – Walker Sanders, President, Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro

About Clark Patterson Lee

Founded in 1975, Clark Patterson Lee (CPL) is a 330-person multi-disciplined architecture, engineering and planning firm offering inspiring design services and enriching communities in 13 cities across 4 states. CPL specializes in the Healthcare, Transportation, Municipal and Academic sectors – providing architectural, interior design, civil engineering, structural engineering, planning, landscape architecture and 3D design services to a host of public and private clients. Visit to learn more.

<![CDATA[BULLETIN: Novant Health Kernersville Medical Office Building]]> Contact: Vince Press, Director of Communications
Clark Patterson Lee

Michelle Draghi, Communications Coordinator
Clark Patterson Lee

Kernersville, NC - October 10, 2017 - For more than 40 years, Clark Patterson Lee (CPL) has fine-tuned its practice to respond to the healthcare industry’s emerging trends — evolving from a traditional A/E firm into a full-service practice that leverages innovative design thinking to advance next-generation healthcare solutions. Every day, their architects, engineers, planners, and healthcare Principals partner with clients to design and build creative solutions that exceed functional, aesthetic and business goals.

Most recently, CPL worked with leading healthcare provider, Novant Health, to design the new Novant Health Kernersville Medial Office Building and Outpatient Surgery Center. Spanning 60,000 square feet, the new three-story building is located adjacent to the existing hospital and was designed to meeting growing patient needs in Kernersville, NC and surrounding communities. In addition to comfortably housing seven specialist clinics along with a Labcorp clinic, the building’s third floor will have a state-of-the-art ambulatory surgery center, with a procedure room and two operating rooms, which is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

The Novant Health network consists of 15 hospitals and more than 350 physician practices offering advanced medical treatments across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. This new Kernersville facility continues on a trend of recent growth in the area and further supports Novant Health’s mission in making healthcare remarkable for patients and communities.

“Medical professionals deserve to have an efficient workplace and patients are entitled to experience a comfortable healing process,” explained Rachel Guillot, AIA, LEED GA, a CPL architect managing the project. “Through our designs, we keep that mentality at the forefront of our best healthcare practice.”

About Clark Patterson Lee

Founded in 1975, Clark Patterson Lee (CPL) is a 330-person multi-disciplined architecture, engineering and planning firm offering inspiring design services and enriching communities in 13 cities across 4 states. CPL specializes in the Healthcare, Transportation, Municipal and Academic sectors – providing architectural, interior design, civil engineering, structural engineering, planning, landscape architecture and 3D design services to a host of public and private clients. Visit to learn more.

<![CDATA[BROADCAST: CPL Creative Labs Showcases Virtual Reality Experience]]>

Combining design flair with the latest advancements in technology, CPL Creative Labs is a team of digital-media and design specialists who turn compelling ideas into solid solutions. They are focused on exploring AR and VR technology, the newest rendering and animation techniques, as well as innovative approaches to model fabrication and delivery. As “students” of the ever-changing world in which we live, this group is always learning, always thinking and always discovering cutting-edge opportunities that lead to results far beyond architecture.

This video showcases the new technology that CPL Creative Labs has researched and implemented during 2017.

<![CDATA[BLOG: The Many Shoes of Zach Anderson]]> Zach Anderson is a dog lover, a new home owner, the coach of a wrestling team, and a truck pull competitor. For fun, he’s a civil engineer in Clark Patterson Lee's (CPL) Rochester office.

He’s been working at CPL for the better part of 7 years, and pictures himself staying until retirement.

“A lot of people my age bounce around from company to company,” said Anderson. “That’s not for me. I started here. I’d like to end here.”

Self-proclaimed in love with engineering, Anderson started at CPL as an intern while going to school at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Where he began as a mechanical engineering major, he switched to civil engineering in the hopes of spending a little more time in the sunshine.

But engineering wasn’t his first love.

“All I ever wanted to do was what my dad did,” Anderson admitted, explaining he always figured he would be a truck driver “But my dad wouldn’t let me! He said, absolutely not. You’re going to college.”

Chris Anderson, Zach’s father, told Zach instead of working on engines, he should design them.

Now Anderson boasts designing a lot more than engines. In fact, he’s been working on the Science, Technology, & Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) project since his college days.

“It’s neat to see the space come from original concept to what it is now,” he said. What started as 1,262 acres of farmland is developing into a massive industrial park. Among other checklist items, Anderson designed and implemented the main access road to the park.

Besides STAMP, Anderson’s day-to-day is filled with surveying, site design, and answering contractor questions. Or, as he describes it, putting out fires.

Anderson says he learned an important lesson early on in his career that he will always remember:the importance of preliminary details.

“Every detail, especially at the beginning of a project, has a domino effect,” he said. “The level of detail is always important when ensuring a successful project.”

Anderson can carry this lesson to many parts of his life, like coaching high school wrestling at Manchester-Shortsville High School.

For five years, Anderson worked along his father to learn coaching. He originally learned the sport in second grade, and never stopped.

“My dad decided to retire as coach, which meant I could step in and do what I love,” he said.

As for goals for the future, Anderson’s happy with the way life is going.

“I was voted Most Likely to Succeed as my Senior Superlative,” said Anderson. “I guess my goal is to say I succeeded.”

Anderson looks forward to learning more about engineering, captaining more CPL softballs games, aims to be a 40 Under 40 candidate, and can’t wait for the next Kenny Chesney concert.

<![CDATA[BLOG: A Wild Design]]> Site engineering can be fairly straightforward much of the time, however detailed it may be. But it’s not often that engineers must consider the effects of cherry trees to a giraffe’s diet, or the pH of local limestone to a rhinoceros’s hooves.

Designing the first phase of renovations to the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, NY has proven to be a unique, wild venture for the architects and engineers working on this game-changing project for the County of Monroe (NY).

Norm Gardner, CPG, is a Principal Associate at Clark Patterson Lee (CPL) with nearly 28 years of experience. Before this project, he never shipped in granite from Massachusetts for the foot comfort of an African animal.

“We had to adapt our design to accommodate a different species,” said Gardner, adding that the project has been the most fun challenge in his career.

Gardner credits some of the success of the project so far to subconsultant, WDM Architects, who specialize in zoological design. The firm has been instrumental in animal exhibit design and animal holding details, and has experience designing zoos all over the world. Throughout the renovation, both firms have concentrated on the safety, happiness, and health of the animals.

“Phase one includes the construction of a brand-new Africa exhibit, a new home for animals including a snow leopard, rhinoceros, and orangutan, an aquarium and aviary, and a new-construction Café,” explained Maria Mazurek, AIA, a CPL Architect managing the project.

Somewhat of a less glamorous phase, it will also cover demolishing old zoo buildings, abatement, and strict land use parameters.

"The expansion of the Seneca Park Zoo is one of the most highly anticipated projects in our community,” said Cheryl Dinolfo, Monroe County Executive. “With new exhibits and educational opportunities on the horizon, Clark Patterson Lee is an integral partner in making our vision for the Zoo a reality. I could not be more excited for this expansion and I want to thank the design and construction team on the great work already underway.”

The new Africa barn will be the largest building on site at a hefty 15,000 square feet, with two smaller adjacent buildings that will hold meal prep for the animals and a gift shop. The Zoo will welcome a giraffe in the summer of 2018, who will enjoy a custom enclosure with imported sod, safe, edible trees, and a special feeding station where Zoo guests can hand-feed the giraffe.

After much flora and fauna research led by the expertise of subconsultants WDM Architects, Satchell Engineers, and Dixon Studios, CPL has designed the enclosures to look like natural animal habitats, with secret features that make the animals feel right at home. These include heated rocks, tucked-away caves for hiding and resting, water featues including mini waterfalls and spray rocks, and decorative and themed retaining walls for safety. Designers also considered that many exhibits are to be year-round, so animals and humans alike will be comfortable even during the colder winter months.

In replacement of the existing Eagle’s Landing (the Zoo’s modest food establishment), a two-level, 9,000 square foot Trail Side Café building will house a new restaurant with ample indoor and outdoor seating that will double as a banquet hall for special events, a new catering kitchen, and an entertainment zone outside near the playground.

“Seneca Park Zoo is looking at this project from a growth perspective,” said Jason Streb, AIA, CPL Project Architect. “They are preparing for an increasing number of guests, not only as Zoo visitors, but guests to the restaurant and event center as well, keeping comfort and functionality in mind.”

Besides animals, the Zoo will enjoy an addition of a trolley that will run from the current entrance to the extended north end, making it easier for guests to move around the linear park. This trolley will utilize existing roads, making little environmental and economic impact to the Zoo and the neighboring Seneca Park – a historic park designed by the famous American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

CPL faced unique design challenges with this project. An unusually rainy summer softened already wet soil, creating stormwater management issues. Since the existing soils were unsuitable, several thousand cubic yards of good soil replaced the existing for a better foundation. Monroe County planted new sod, which will begin to naturally grow next spring.

The topography of the existing site was also a challenge. With the Zoo located on a hill, the new buildings had to be designed to work into the slope, not against it, to better utilize the space provided.

Gardner, Mazurek, and Streb all agree the most difficult part of the project was the long, narrow boundary of the Zoo. Designers took careful consideration of the park’s boundaries to minimalize disruption to not only Olmsted’s park, but to the neighboring home owners as well. The firm plans to upgrade retaining walls across the zoo for added security and noise-diluting for those neighbors.

“We enjoyed getting acquainted with these unusual and interesting challenges and learning more about zoology,” said Mazurek. “It’s been a pleasure to work on this project, and I look forward to seeing how it turns out.”

“This is an exciting project that will continue to advance the Zoo in its mission to inspire our community to connect, care for and conserve wildlife and wild places,” said Larry Sorel, Zoo Director. “Working closely with talented design and construction professionals has given us the ability to translate our vision for the Zoo into the reality of habitats for the animals in our care and for the experiences we provide our guests.”

Phase one will conclude late next summer, leading into phase two of the master planning process.

Phase two will include a new, large tropic exhibit and a renovated main entrance with guest services, educational buildings, and much more.

“Seneca Park and Seneca Park Zoo are some of the best kept secrets in Rochester,” said Gardner. “We hope this renovation will motivate people to reconnect with our parks, and benefit the community as well as the care and love of these wild animals.”

“We are fortunate to work on many inspiring projects that enrich communities and make a genuine difference for residents. It’s extremely rewarding to our entire team at CPL,” said Todd Liebert, AIA, Clark Patterson Lee’s CEO.

Originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of The Rochester Engineer.

<![CDATA[BULLETIN: CPL Ranks #45 on Rochester’s 2017 Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies List]]> Contact: Vince Press, Director of Communications
Clark Patterson Lee

Rochester, NY – October 25, 2017 – Clark Patterson Lee (CPL) is among Rochester’s fastest growing companies and was recently honored by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce on their Top 100 list. CPL came in at #45 on the annual ranking, which measures the three-year revenue growth of privately held, independent firms th office location in Greensboro, NC with the acquisition of the A/E/P firm, Moser, Mayer & Phoenix Associates.

Click here for additional information about the 31st Top 100 list and the Greater Rochester Chamber.

About Clark Patterson Lee

Founded in 1975, Clark Patterson Lee (CPL) is a 330-person multi-disciplined architecture, engineering and planning firm offering inspiring design services and enriching communities in 13 cities across 4 states. CPL specializes in the Healthcare, Transportation, Municipal and Academic sectors – providing architectural, interior design, civil engineering, structural engineering, planning, landscape architecture and 3D design services to a host of public and private clients. Visit to learn more.

<![CDATA[BUZZ: The Rochester Engineer Features A Wild Design]]> The Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, NY has proven to be a unique, project for the County of Monroe (NY). Read the full story here.

<![CDATA[BUZZ: Clark Patterson Lee Acquires Greensboro, NC Firm]]> Moser Mayer Phoenix Associates will join the ever-growing Clark Patterson Lee team on Nov. 1. Read the full story featured in the Rochester Business Journal.

<![CDATA[BUZZ: How the Moser Mayer Phoenix Acquisition Came Together]]> How did Moser Mayer Phoenix Associates Partner, Ken Mayer, get involved with Clark Patterson Lee? Go behind the deal and discover how the two firms came together in the Triad Business Journal.

<![CDATA[BUZZ: East Coast Firm Acquires One of Triad's Largest Architecture Firms ]]> Moser Mayer Pheonix announces its acquisition by Clark Patterson Lee. Read the full story featured in the Triad Business Journal.

<![CDATA[BUZZ: West Seneca's First-of-its-Kind Community Center, Library On Track For May Opening]]> The Town of West Seneca is building a community center/library next to its Town Hall on Union Road in West Seneca. The Buffalo News is reporting that this first-of-its-kind facility is currently in its construction phase, and is on track to open in May 2018!

<![CDATA[BUZZ: Introducing This Year's 40 Under 40 Honorees]]> We're thrilled to congratulate Clark Patterson Lee Senior Associate and Williamsville Mayor, Brian Kulpa, AIA, for being selected as one of this year's 40 Under Forty recipients. Buffalo Business First has been presenting the annual "40 Under Forty" awards since 1992, and the honorees are all recognized for their records of professional success and community involvement.

<![CDATA[BLOG: Why Community Engagement Matters]]> Working with local communities isn’t just business—it’s pleasure. That’s because in addition to working here, we live here, too. When it comes to making changes to our natural and built surroundings, we realize that our client is not just the municipality, but rather every citizen living, working and traveling in that community. At Clark Patterson Lee (CPL), we desire to deliver smart solutions that help build better communities.

Recently, CPL’s team members in Georgia participated in the Chamblee Mid-City Stroll, an event created to gather feedback from the community on a new project designed by our own Joe Powell.

The City of Chamblee is working on a project to develop the Peachtree Road Streetscape design that will determine the best solutions for roadway, sidewalk and other amenities along the Peachtree Road corridor in the heart of downtown Chamblee, along with the extensions of the Chamblee Rail Trail.

Participants in the stroll visited vendors along the path to learn about how the proposed changes would affect their community.

“When you’re proposing changes to someone’s street, you’d expect people to be upset about it. We got the opposite response,” said Matt Dickison, Development Director with the City of Chamblee, as well as an Urban Planner at CPL. “Everybody wanted to participate and give their feedback on all the changes.”

At each of the seven stops along the stroll, there was an opportunity to give feedback through various activities with play money, before-and-after photographs, survey responses and by selecting favorite features from the plan.

Rebecca Keefer, Development Deputy Director with the City of Chamblee, and CPL Urban Planner, said the games opened their eyes on what the community is really looking for.

“We had planned on adding a fitness park, but found that it scored very low. We can now eliminate this feature and allocate that funding to a different part of the project,” Keefer said.

Dickison and Keefer agreed that they’re essentially working for the citizens of Chamblee, so those opinions should certainly be considered. Meanwhile, designers beg the questions: can it happen, is it feasible, and is it safe?

“There should be a balance between the engineer’s expert views on ground rules and technical realities, and realizing that what looks good on a map doesn’t necessarily look good in person,” Keefer said.

CPL focuses on a client-centered approach, making plans a bit more flexible to accommodate the needs and wants of the majority.

Dickison credits much of the success of the event to the use of tactical urbanism: temporary, low-cost changes to the environment, used to improve local neighborhoods or city gathering places. The Chamblee event featured makeshift benches, bike trails, crosswalks, a temporary park with artificial grass, and more. This allowed event goers to see and feel what some of the changes would be like in real life.

“There is a lot of embodied knowledge in the community that you just can’t get from models and spec books that gives us a real-world view of any local strengths or constraints to incorporate into work,” added Justin Steinbach, Associate at CPL.

“Engaging with the community is an important part of the overall design process,” said Steinbach. “When we design or build a project, we just have a small part in the lifecycle; the community is a regular user, so their input is important to making sure we deliver something that accommodates their needs.”

CPL is aware that a project is a success only if the citizens are able to interact with their community more effectively than they were before. This stretches from park design, to crosswalks, to transportation.

“During the heyday of transportation design, everything was centered around one user – the driver. Whether cars, trucks or buses, the focus was getting vehicles from point A to point B as quickly as possible,” said Jennifer Michniewicz, Principal Associate at CPL.

“Over time, engineers and planners realized that this was the wrong approach and we should also consider other users like pedestrians and bicycles. We now engage the public collectively to find solutions that still get people from point A to point B, but do so in a way that brings people together,” she said.

The Chamblee Mid-City Stroll was the first event of its kind, combining several different types of feedback into a branded event where restaurants and businesses were able to join in as well. CPL hopes to host many similar events in the future.