You have read the posts and heard the news; we are all aware of what 2020 has meant to the world globally and to each and every one of us on a more local and personal level. 20/20 vision has allowed us to see that there is much work to do to improve, update and push forward the ability of the built environment to promote lifelong learning for each individual, group, and community.
BBS stands firm and solvent as we continue to adapt while remaining a dependable, thoughtful, and loyal partner for our current and future clients. We are not all in the office together, (just 50% of us now), but somehow, we have managed to strengthen our connections by finding alternate means of working and communicating. We are proud that our employees nominated and then established BBS as a Newsday Top Workplace for 2020 as a small company. That is a new accomplishment for us that we are very proud of, because it is about people and the quality of work life in the wake of chaotic change. Nearly a quarter of our staff has been with us for twenty years or more, and are mentoring the younger generation of architects, landscape architects and engineers.
We had a moment of pause like everyone else in mid-March, but then mobilized to keep construction projects moving through the summer even as requirements seemed to change daily. BBS assisted clients with the coordination of their social distancing plans and health protocols as they affect people, learning, and the built environment. This is an ongoing process that continues in the search for affordable and achievable options to the current situation and potential future circumstances. The key is flexibility and adaptability.
We have seen several major building projects completed in 2020 such as the conversion of a former Armory into the new Pre-Kindergarten Center for Bay Shore Schools, and the recent completion of major additions/renovations at both the Greenacres Elementary School in Scarsdale, and the Amityville Memorial High School. Ongoing construction progress continues at the entirely new Rhodes Elementary School in Hempstead, plus the major addition and site redevelopment at the Springs School in East Hampton and the Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School in Port Washington. Design continues at the Lindenhurst Memorial Library for a full renovation/expansion project approved by voters in late 2019, and for the Conte Community Center in Huntington, NY – another former Armory conversion project. We are excited to have just been brought on by Shelter Island Schools this month to design a new nitrogen-reducing sanitary system for their school facility.
BBS was approached by Nassau BOCES to participate in a three-part webinar series on October 14, 2020 regarding impacts to school design during and after COVID. We were pleased to represent the local voice of Long Island and Eastern New York State as a contributor to the series. Our presentation is titled, “Next Millennium Design: Adapting to Emerging Variables.” I was proud to represent the firm and share thoughts and strategies for moving forward. The basis of the presentation was how to keep the best of what had been developed through 21st Century Design, then adapt it to a changed reality while working with existing school buildings that their communities have invested in over many decades. To do the harder work of not only theorizing about new structures or purely virtual learning experiences, but by suggesting achievable solutions and approaches that combine the best of both but reinforce the value of social connections and in-person contact. To not forget the basics of shelter and HVAC but allow the thought process to expand and explore new avenues of design and planning. Every district, every school and every student are different. We are here to design and plan schools on a case-by-case basis that will provide for optimal active learning that is student-based and specific to each community.
Long-term capital project planning continues with many of our educational and municipal clients, with an encouraging uptick in active planning conversations just this past month in late November into December 2020. The resiliency of people is shining through; community support for the public school system is at an all-time high. Before you know it, it will be budget season again; what projects should be considered while communities are actively engaged in the conversation in such an unprecedented way?
We are here to assist in the long-term planning process of capital projects ranging from infrastructure and engineering systems through to the development of cutting-edge educational learning environments. We encourage school districts and other community-based building clients to inquire about how we can assist with the following:
- Infrastructure Basics & ongoing Asset Preservation Projects like Roofing & Engineering Systems through Building Condition Survey (BCS) Reports, Energy Performance Contracts (EPC’s) and BBS Facility Studies.
- Review of Multiple Building Entrances, Zones and Circulation Routes for Security, Screening, Distancing & Health Protocols.
- Master Planning connecting Educational Vision, the Student Experience, Community Support & the Continued Maintenance and Improvement of Building Structures.
BBS continues to contribute positively to the community at large through thoughtful design and planning of the built environment. Another important project that opened in 2020 is The Wellbridge Addiction Treatment & Research Center in Calverton, NY after years of team planning and design. This project embodies the importance of empathy, interpersonal connection and sharing for everyone’s long term benefit. It provides a supportive setting for individual and community engagement through active participation and focus.
We remain committed to our mission, “To create enduring value by balancing the practical with the extraordinary”, and core values of Stability, Practicality, Diligence, Exploration, Efficiency & Consideration. BBS is an approachable, non-corporate design and engineering company with the ability, commitment, and depth to do Great Things. We can realize a better tomorrow together by learning more every day; never forgetting the wisdom achieved by engaging yesterday’s tough lessons, feelings, and empathy for others; and taking this moment to plan for a productive and relevant future in 2021 and beyond.
Kevin J. Walsh, AIA, ALEP, LEED AP