Exploring Ways Building Community is at the Heart of Design
This year reflected SSP Architects’ commitment to being community builders at heart. Whether it’s creating uplifting spaces in educational and healthcare facilities, preserving our state’s living history through design, building inviting civic spaces, or bolstering our mission to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in our built work and staffing, SSP’s team always strives to design sustainable, innovative, and practical spaces that empower people and enhance neighborhoods.
Today’s focus is on Boosting Civic Centered Design
2023 further boosted SSP’s 132-year architectural design leadership in making New Jersey’s civic buildings as accessible and people-friendly as possible. Our firm knows it done its job well when jurors experience a pleasanter, safer courthouse atmosphere, City Council meetings are held in a spacious, inviting, and well-lit space that encourages citizen participation, and a community center design featuring state-of-the-art facilities is hailed by town residents from all backgrounds.
This year, SSP enhanced civic life in New Jersey by:
- Designing a new 4,000 square foot Somerville Civic Center that provides much-needed space for Borough Council and municipal board meetings that can comfortably hold up to 80 people. This is a far cry from the previous overcrowded room that frequently saw attendees spilling out into the hallways. It was gratifying to hear Mayor Dennis Sullivan say, “This is a big step for our town. I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome or the process.”
- Making jury duty at the Somerset County Courthouse in Somerville, NJ easier and safer with the official opening of its enlarged lobby and entry security area designed by SSP. This addition addresses the long-time complaints by jurors that they had to line up outside and be exposed to the elements – including rain and snow, high winds, extreme cold and heat. Finally, there is an entryway and lobby worthy of this beautiful, historic courthouse – providing the comfort and security jurors deserve. It was wonderful to hear at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Shanel Y. Robinson, Somerset County Commissioner Director, say, “This fantastic new entrance will ensure justice is guaranteed safely and securely.”
- Designing a historic, multi-million-dollar Pennsauken Community Center that will feature an inviting lobby and open floor concept filled with natural lighting. Its lobby will be connected to a café that will be a perfect place for small gatherings and socializing. Additional features designed by SSP include a walking/running track at the mezzanine level, multi-purpose rooms, indoor basketball, pickleball, and volleyball courts, and a senior activity room. A small, outdoor amphitheater will provide a lovely venue for theatrical and musical performances.
SSP looks forward to building on these successes in 2024. We will continue our work to create buildings and spaces where communities can thrive. Our team will always keep in mind that as community architects, the buildings, and spaces we design are part of the bigger story – one that elevates people, helps them better interact with each other, and creates a more sustainable, healthier, and inspiring built environment.
This is part of a series of blogs focusing on SSP’s architectural designs and team members that made an impact in 2023. This blog focuses on SSP’s achievements in creating uplifting civic spaces that bring people together and contribute to a community’s cultural and political personality.