Tippetts/Weaver Architects: Leveraging the Past to Build the Future

Keystone Kidspace Collaboration Will Bring New Life to The York Armory

With over 16,000 square feet of flexible creative space to design in the historic York Amory building, Keystone Kidspace Co-Founders, Jess Brubaker and Jenn Tansey, knew they needed to find the right architectural firm to undertake this exciting challenge. They were looking for a design team with relevant experience who would be true partners and collaborators, who would listen and put the needs of the program first, and who could work creatively to bring this ambitious project to life within a tight budget. They have no doubt that they found the right fit in Tippetts/Weaver Architects.

Different from some firms, Tippetts/Weaver is a team made up of only architects, allowing them to all be involved with all aspects of projects. Their team particularly loves supporting projects located in an urban environment, with historic buildings that require an adaptive reuse. This made Keystone Kidspace a natural fit for their firm. As the two lead architects on the project, Wendy Tippetts and Rachel Haynes were also drawn to the creative aspect of Keystone Kidspace’s mission and wanted to be part of revitalization efforts in York.

With Jess and Jenn, the four women make a dynamic team. Rachel has enjoyed this opportunity, stating, “They are totally open and accepting. It’s very collaborative. It was a team coming to decisions.” Wendy agreed, “[We were] working around a round table rather than a rectilinear table.”

Wendy and Rachel have worked to fulfill the vision of Keystone Kidspace as a dynamic and creative space that will have regularly rotating installations, as well as events and classes. Rachel reflected, “We worked to define a physical space that is also infinitely flexible.” While allowing for ultimate adaptability, Wendy and Rachel worked to strategically locate some of the fixed pieces such as:
Maker Tool Bar that seats children for tabletop workshops in creative writing or coding, drop-in hours for science fair projects, or after hours gatherings for adults; 

Large-scale garage doors that will open up allowing the imaginative activities happening inside to spill over into the outdoors;
Large Mess Hall for large-scale and potentially messy art activities; 

Kitchen Lab for chemistry and culinary exploration, and catering service for events; 

Digital Lab with “clean tech” like 3D printers, circuit components, and green screens; 

Great Hall with movable exhibits like a large velodrome and DJ turntables, and space for large community gatherings from robotics competitions to events;
Cafe and Outdoor Patio that will become a true “third place” for York families; and 

Studios and Workshops for programs offered by Keystone Kidspace or partners. 

Wendy described the design aesthetic for Keystone Kidspace as industrial, commenting, “They want the children who come there to feel that they’re ready to work, ready to build, ready to learn.” Jess and Jenn were interested in maintaining some raw features of the building so that children will have a sense of how the building was put together. In order to achieve that, some areas will have raw plywood and ductwork visible and the original concrete flooring will be left exposed. Rachel stated, “One thing they’ve always said about the space is [that] they don’t want it to be too precious. They want to foster creativity so that any kid that comes in doesn’t look at the space as a classroom but as a blank canvas [where] they can throw paint or make a mistake.”

Keystone Kidspace is located in the heart of the revitalization efforts in York, but will also help to push the envelope. Wendy remarked, “It acts as a bridge. It’s at that critical juncture where things turn from a throughway into a gateway bridge. It announces the beginning of the city–the active area of the city. Hopefully it will trigger further growth.”

Regarding what Keystone Kidspace will add to the community of York, Wendy commented, “I think [it will add] life on the street. I think you’ll see a lot more vibrancy in the city as a result. When the garage doors open along Hamilton the kids will be spilling out onto the sidewalk.” Rachel added, “They really want this to feel welcoming and safe and collaborative….[families’] third space.”

While Tippetts/Weaver is based in Lancaster, they think Keystone Kidspace will be a unique destination unlike anything in this region that should entice individuals from York, Lancaster, Harrisburg and beyond to visit. Wendy emphasized, “It’s a very different sort of facility from what people might compare it to here in Lancaster. It has a different offering entirely. It’s a workshop. It’s a doer’s space.” Rachel echoed, “There isn’t anything like it. It’s sort of like a community space. It’s STEAM for sure. It’s not just STEM. Everything’s going to be hands-on. There’s no permanent exhibit. It’s always going to be something fresh and exciting.”

An integral part of Keystone Kidspace’s programming involves partnering with other individuals and organizations in the community who will be able to contribute to the various programs that will be offered. Rachel stressed, “By going there you will support other people in the community too. It’s going to be a community hub. They are extremely open to collaborative ideas. They are an open book and they would love to collaborate with anyone interested. It seems really welcoming. Jess and Jenn have been really excited and respectful of their various partnerships in the community. They seem like really great champions of downtown York!”