At DRS Architects we are always in search of creative and talented architects and interior designers to join our team.
Everyone at DRS shares the belief that thoughtful architecture can enrich lives and strengthen communities, and with every project we strive to acquire a deeper understanding of design. Our practice engages clients and specialists as partners in a collaborative effort to produce meaningful, healthy environments. The joy we experience in our work is a product of the people we meet, the institutions we learn from, the communities we support and the artful solutions we achieve together.
Yanet Kaplanski is a registered architect in the State of Pennsylvania. She graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of the Republic, School of Architecture, in Montevideo, Uruguay and holds a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from the University of Pittsburgh, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business. Yanet is LEED AP accredited.
Yanet joined DRS in 2020 and has been working on a variety of hospitality and government projects. She has experience in all building types, including colleges/universities, healthcare, residential, corporate and historic adaptive reuse. Yanet provides a complete approach to architectural design services with a focus on functionality.
Yanet loves to travel and she speaks Spanish fluently. Out of all the places she has visited, she insists Uruguay has the best food and beaches.
Apoorva Juneja is a registered architect in the State of Pennsylvania and the State of Ohio.
She earned her EDAC (Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification) in 2016 and she graduated with a Master of Architecture from Kent State University in 2015.
Since joining DRS in 2018, Apoorva has served as project architect for a wide variety of healthcare projects including imaging fit-outs, inpatient units, and outpatient clinics. She currently serves as a DRS representative for the AIA Academy of Architecture for Health, Pittsburgh Chapter.
In her free time, Apoorva enjoys jogging in the park and meeting new people.
Ashley Solomon is a NCIDQ certified interior designer and earned her LEED AP ID+C accreditation in 2014. She recently also obtained accreditation as a WELL AP. She graduated with a BS in Interior Design with a minor in Sustainable Studies from La Roche University in 2012.
Since joining DRS in 2012, Ashley has served as the project designer for a variety of interior projects ranging from renovations to offices, classrooms and public spaces for the Schools of Pharmacy and Dental Medicine in The University of Pittsburgh’s Salk Hall, as well as renovations to offices at BNY Mellon. Additionally, she has worked as the project designer for an assortment of new build projects, including universities and DNA labs. In addition to her project work, Ashley’s professional focus has been on designing sustainably and she likes creating interior environments for people to live in and enjoy. She also takes an active focus at designing the environment to better occupant health. She is currently an active member of the Green Building Alliance and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA).
Ashley lives in Bloomfield and outside of the office she enjoys watching The Great British Baking Show, drawing and printmaking.
David Bostak is a registered architect in the State of Pennsylvania. He graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1999. David is NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) and LEED AP accredited.
Since joining DRS in 2016, David has served as project architect for several important projects including the new DNA Lab Facility for the Pennsylvania State Police and numerous projects for the Federal Government. In addition to his project work, David’s professional focus has been on implementation and use of technology in architecture and the technical aspects of detailing and construction.
Gretchen earned her BS in Interior Design from La Roche University in 1997 and became NCIDQ Certified in 2000.
Since joining DRS in 2013, Gretchen has served in the role of principal-in-charge, project manager &/or senior interior designer on a variety of projects. Her ability to engage clients, encourage thoughtful design, and her attention to detail allows her to cross market sector platforms, applying creative design and project management expertise to a variety of projects regardless of placement. She has most recently executed successful projects in the healthcare, corporate & higher education market sectors.
Jason Woynar is a senior interior designer who has earned his NCIDQ certification in 2010. He graduated with a BS in Interior Design from La Roche University in 1999.
Since joining DRS in 1999, Jason has served as interior designer for several important projects including the Basketball Locker Room Renovation at Duquesne University and a $26 million renovation of the Community College of Beaver County. In addition to his project work, Jason’s professional focus has been maintaining exceptional communication with clients, internal team members, and consultants throughout project duration regarding design concept, execution and follow through.
Joan Caruso is the receptionist for DRS Architects. She has been with the company for a little over 31 years. Joan is the first point of contact when clients and business partners visit the firm. She enjoys greeting the clients and sales reps for the company, some people would say she is one smooth operator.
Jon Funari joined DRS Architects in 2013 after a career working for various firms in Pittsburgh, Arizona, and Washington DC. His portfolio of projects is diverse, and although he considers himself a generalist, his experience has an emphasis in higher education and laboratory buildings. During his career, Jon’s work has won numerous awards for design and historic preservation. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Arizona State University.
Lisa Jankowski is the manager of accounting and human resources for DRS Architects. She earned her undergraduate degree at Edinboro University and her MBA at Robert Morris University. She is a SHRM Senior Certified Human Resources Professional (SHRM-SCP). Since joining DRS in 2017, Lisa has been able to bring her strengths and expertise in accounting and human resources to add significant value to the corporation and to the employees. She also serves as a Notary.
Lisa is an active member of the Pittsburgh Human Resource Association (PHRA) where she sits on the social media committee and also participates in WELD. Lisa is also a member of Literacy Pittsburgh where she teaches English as a second language. Lisa is a leader of the DRS book club, she lives in the North Hills and is a proud mother to her two children as well as to her two fur babies – Max and Leah.
Michael K. Larche II is a graduate in architecture for DRS Architects. He graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Tuskegee University in 2017 and was awarded the title of University Scholar for maintaining the highest GPA out of his graduating class.
Since joining DRS in 2017, Michael has been serving as a project designer in healthcare design. He brings a fresh set of eyes to each new project and looks forward to learning more about the best ways to ensure client satisfaction and patient comfort. Michael has recently been working on numerous pharmaceutical renovations, central sterile renovations, and an MRI replacement. These projects have challenged him to assess spatial and visual requirements the client seeks to achieve all while enjoying the process of the design. Michael is an active member in Pittsburgh’s National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) chapter where they “exist to advance professional equity, through building relationships, promoting and supporting minority architects, and inspiring youth.”
Michelle Sokol is a marketing coordinator at DRS Architects. Michelle started her career at DRS in 1971 as a librarian. Since then, Michelle has filled the role of librarian, secretary, executive secretary, bookkeeper assistant, and in 1982 she became marketing coordinator.
As marketing coordinator, Michelle is responsible for scouting out new opportunities for the firm by managing a variety of procurement sites, assisting with the production of new marketing materials, editing existing marketing materials, and preparation of proposals and statements of qualifications.
Nicole Mooney is a graduate in architecture for DRS Architects. She graduated with a Master of Architecture from Wentworth Institute of Technology in 2017 and is an AIA Associate Member.
Since joining DRS in 2017, Nicole has worked on various healthcare and university projects, including the innovative MIBG Therapy Suite. In addition to her project work, Nicole’s university thesis focused on urbanism and how the layout of cities can impact all areas of design.
Nicole enjoys sketching, photography, and exploring new places.
Patti Weisgerber is the administrative assistant for DRS Architects. Patti assists the principals and architects with project documentation from startup to closeout. She is also the lead assistant for the preparation and editing of healthcare proposals and materials for the marketing department.
Patti loves to read and enjoys being a member of the DRS book club that meets once a month to discuss a variety of book selections of each member.
Peter Harjung is a registered architect in the State of Pennsylvania and the State of Ohio. He graduated with a Master of Architecture from Kent State University in 2016 with minors in Construction Management, Historical Preservation, and Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance History.
Since joining DRS in 2017, Peter has served as project architect for Duquesne University’s UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse Renovation. His primary areas of experience are in government, civic, and higher education architecture. Peter has a professional focus on working within existing structures and a background in building forensics and engineer coordination.
Rachel Rzymek is the business development marketing manager for DRS Architects. She graduated from Gannon University in 2010 and has worked in the AEC industry since 2016. Rachel works closely with the firm’s principals to maintain strong client relationships while managing the firms marketing efforts including proposals, presentations, award submissions, and marketing materials.
Rachel sits on the board of SMPS Pittsburgh, WELD, and Robert Morris University’s Center of Sales Excellence. She is also a member of the Big Recruitment Board for Big Brother Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, NAIOP, and BOMA. While at Gannon University, Rachel was team captain and All-American swimmer and water polo player. She enjoys spending as much of her spare time as possible outdoors camping, swimming, practicing yoga, and traveling.
Rich Gazda is a Senior Project Coordinator at DRS Architects with over 35 years of experience working on projects in the commercial, higher education, transportation and healthcare sectors. Notable Projects included the Allegheny Station portion of the North Shore Connector project in Pittsburgh PA, Duquesne University Student Union Atrium enclosure and Dormitory Renovations, and most recently, multiple floor renovations for the BNY Mellon Service Center and BNY Mellon Client Service Center buildings.
Rich’s attention to detail, and solid understanding of all aspects of the design and construction industry have made him a valued asset as he excels in the construction document and construction administration phases of all our projects.
Over the years Rich has personally developed skills as a welder, machinist and metal fabricator hosting weekend workshops for his peers. Rich lives with his wife of 31 years in a 130-year-old Victorian home that he and his wife have spent countless hours restoring.
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Robert started his drafting career after receiving his Architectural Drafting degree from Triangle Tech Pittsburgh in 1990. Three months after starting his first job, he was asked to help research and setup two PC CAD systems with an HP 8 pen plotter. Along his career timeline; Robert obtained certificates in MCP and CAD Systems Management.
Robert returned to DRS in February of 2001 to research and manage DRS’ first server & network that included a DELL server and (12) PCs. Along with the IT, Robert has been a CAD Technician on various projects for The Port Authority, multiple western PA colleges & universities, USACE, DOE and Nemacolin Woodlands resort, to list a few. As the amount of technology has grown within the firm, Robert’s drafting has proportionately decreased. Robert not only monitors and maintains our on-prem equipment, but also maintains the DRS services hosted in Office 365, including a weekly Cyber security review and maintenance.
In his spare time Robert enjoys reading tech articles, reading and watching Science Fiction classics.
Scott Hazlett is a principal at DRS Architects. Since graduation from Kent State University in 1981, Scott has worked primarily in healthcare design and construction while developing a wide range of solid experience from one room renovations to major facility renovations to the new construction of complete replacement hospitals.
As a project manager/medical designer, Scott approaches every design project from multiple perspectives to understand the needs of the staff who will work there, the patients and family who come there for treatment, the maintenance staff who will take care of it and the contractor who will build it. His goal is to envision each project through all of their eyes and then meld this into a single vision that meets all of their needs within a single solution. Scott is ACHA (American College of Healthcare Architects), NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) and EDAC (Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification) certified and serves as the leader for the DRS healthcare design group and the firms quality assurance group.
Sneha Mansukhani joined DRS as graduate architect. She is a registered architect from India where she earned her Bachelor of Architecture and gained 4 years of experience as a junior architect on projects varying from residential to educational and commercial. She earned her Master of Architecture from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2017, where she received the AIA merit award for her thesis.
Sneha has experience in a variety of healthcare projects including a Creative and Expressive Art Therapy Suite and TV/Video and Radio studio where therapists work with patients as part of healing through the process of creative therapy. Sneha also has experience with higher education projects involving designing and development of an existing historic building to comply with ADA standards.
Sneha is passionate about all things design which keeps her involved in volunteering opportunities with organizations like NOMA, AIA and Pittsburgh Foundation for Architecture. In her free time, she enjoys doing yoga, travelling and dance.
Thomas Beatty is a Project Coordinator at DRS Architects. Thomas graduated from The Pittsburgh Technical Institute in CAD Drafting. He has over 20 years of computer aided design and building information modeling experience. Thomas’ project experience includes corporation, educational, commercial and industrial projects.
Tobie is an interior design graduate of the University of Cincinnati and a LEED ID+C accredited professional. As member of the DRS team for over 20 years, she has had the opportunity to lead projects in a variety of market sectors and is an advocate for sustainability within the firm. Understanding a client’s challenges and goals, and integrating their needs with her years of acquired knowledge and experience leads to successful projects that improve and support the lives of those in the spaces. Most recently she was the principal in charge and designer for the new TV Radio Studio and Creative and Expressive Arts Therapy Suite at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
An advocate for the professional development of women, she is a Committee member for the Pittsburgh chapter of WELD, Women for Economic Leadership and Development.
Since joining DRS in 2006, Paul has led numerous architecture and master planning projects for higher education, government, and non-profit institutions throughout our region. Paul’s consistent design focus has been to maintain a clarity of formal expression and a meaningful connection to context. DRS projects as varied as The Hill District YMCA, Westmoreland Transit Facility, Nemacolin Ski Lodge, North Fayette Community Center and, soon to be completed, UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse, differ in scale, style and typology but all aim to enrich their respective communities through active, understandable engagement.
After graduating from Lafayette College with a degree in Philosophy, Paul studied Architecture at the Architectural Association, London and at the University of Pennsylvania (MArch 1992.) A keen gardener in his rare off-hours, outside the studio Paul can usually be found wedging yet another small tree or native shrub into the small rear yard of the Lawrenceville rowhouse he shares with his forbearing partner, Beth.
Wes Wise is a registered architect in the State of Pennsylvania and earned his LEED AP accreditation in 2003. Wes graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1997.
Since joining DRS in 2017, Wes has served as a project architect focusing on the healthcare market sector. He has led several important projects including the new Allegheny Health Outpatient Center at Waterworks and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Unit 7A Upgrade to an ICU.
Wes lives in Slate Lick, Pa. with his wife Deanna and their four children.
We are excited to share our first progress photo of Duquesne University’s extensive renovation to their basketball arena. The renovation of the former AJ Palumbo Center, to the new UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse begins the implementation of a comprehensive athletics masterplan DRS completed for the University in 2017. The new UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse re-configures this 4,000-seat venue to create an exciting game-day experience for fans while consolidating athletics training and administrative functions in one multi-purpose facility. Wrapping the restructured and expanded building envelope with a generously glazed brick arcade, Duquesne contributes a new civic presence to its Uptown neighborhood and welcomes all of Pittsburgh with a view of University life.
Yanet Kaplanski, AIA, LEED AP recently joined DRS Architects as a senior architect. Yanet is a registered architect in the State of Pennsylvania and brings over 20 years of experience designing and managing an assortment of projects for colleges and universities, healthcare, residential, and corporate clients. Yanet has jumped right into her role at DRS and is currently assisting with the renovation of the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Morgantown and projects for the US Department of Energy. We are excited to have her and welcome her to our team!
Congratulations Ashley Solomon, Interior Designer at DRS Architects, for becoming a WELL Accredited Professional! The WELL APs are leading the movement to make buildings healthier for all. Ashley now has expertise in the WELL Building Standard, the premier standard launched in October of 2014, that supports and advances human health and wellness. Ashley joined DRS in 2012 and has served as project designer for a variety of interior projects ranging from offices, healthcare facilities, classrooms and public space renovations to new building projects. With her accreditation, Ashley will help guide clients to improve occupant health through the built environment, a concept whose relevance has proven even more important in light of recent global events.
To read more about the WELD Building Institute, click the link below. https://www.wellcertified.com/
This year DRS Architects is celebrating 60-years of design excellence in architecture, planning and interior design. We want to share more than six decades of our history with you and thank our clients for their continued support. Please follow this link for the years spanning from 1969-1978.
The DRS Architects project team was pleased to have the opportunity to join the named donors Paul “Triple H” Levesque and Stephanie McMahon Levesque in the Dedication Event for the new MIBG Therapy Suite. The new MIBG Treatment Suite is one of the very few of its kind in the country.
MIBG therapy is a new treatment used for of neuroblastoma patients with inoperative tumors that have not responded to standard induction chemotherapy and relapsed patients. MIBG therapy is also currently being studied for use in newly diagnosed neuroblastoma patients as well. It is projects like this one that gives our healthcare design team the passion they all have for designing new and innovative healthcare facilities. Thank you for allowing us to participate in such a moving and awareness driven event.
For an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
For an article in the Pittsburgh Business Times.
For a news clip from KDKA Pittsburgh News.
DRS Architects had the pleasure of being a part of a beam signing ceremony for the new Dream Big Studio that is currently under construction and planned to open August of 2019. The event included all those in attendance signing a new structural beam for the Studio construction, a peak into the Studio construction area (led by DRS Principal, Tobie Nepo), and a tour of the nearly completed Music and Art Therapy suite.
The vision behind the Dream Big Studio is to increase the social, creative and learning experiences for the children and their families during their stay at the hospital. The Studio is divided into a Radio Studio and a TV Studio and will be visually accessible from all floors above surrounding the multi-story atrium space. The addition of the studios will allow patients to participate in Radio and TV broadcast as a means of therapeutic healing. An operable glass partition in the front of the studio space will be able to open up to the atrium and allow more people to participate in the studio activities. An adjacent Control/Edit Room will complete the facility allowing patients to also be a part of the entire production process.
This year DRS Architects is celebrating 60-years of design excellence in architecture, planning and interior design. We want to share more than six decades of our history with you and thank our clients for their continued support. Please follow this link for the years spanning from 1959-1968.
The Alcoa Building and Mellon Square were selected for the 2018 Timeless Award by the AIA Pennsylvania at their recent Awards Ceremony. The Timeless Award is given to architecture which has endured the test of time and still resonates with the design community and the public. Mitchell & Ritchey, a predecessor firm to DRS Architects, designed Mellon Square and served as local architects to Harrison & Abramovitz on the design of the Alcoa Headquarters Building. DRS was one of the firms honored during the ceremony receiving recognition for the Timeless Award. As DRS approaches its 60th Anniversary, receiving the Timeless Award truly demonstrates our continuing commitment to providing excellent architecture and designing a sustainable future.
Read more by clicking the link below on the development of Mellon Square from an excerpt taken from a profile of Dahlen K. Ritchey, FAIA, written by Diane Gliozzi. Mr. Ritchey was a founding principal of Deeter Ritchey which continues today as DRS Architects. For the article in the Popular Pittsburgh.
The DRS project team was honored to join in the unveiling of the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse that was announced at Duquesne University’s A.J. Palumbo Center. The comprehensive renovation of the A.J. Palumbo Center is being designed by DRS and set to break ground in March of 2019. The UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse will be named in honor of men’s basketball legend, Chuck Cooper.
For an article in the Trib Liv.
For an article by Duquesne University.
DRS was delighted to be a sponsor for this year’s Green Building Alliance Emerald Evening at the Carnegie Science Center. The GBA celebrated the remarkable progress that has been made in sustainability here in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area over the past 25 years. To celebrate their accomplishment, the GBA honored 25 projects that significantly advanced the region’s green building movement.
The Thelma Lovette YMCA, LEED Silver accredited building, designed by DRS was one of the projects honored at the Anniversary Awards event!
Construction for Allegheny Health Network’s (AHN) Outpatient Center at the Waterworks was recently completed this past June. DRS completed the architectural design and interior design for the renovation of the previous 13,400 SF Old Navy store into the current AHN Outpatient Center. The Outpatient Center is a key resource for Highmark members to get primary and express care including cardiology, orthopedic, OB/GYN and diagnostic imaging (X-ray, CT scans, and 3-D mammography) care.
The new Outpatient Center includes 21 exam rooms, X-ray room, CT scan room, 3-D mammography room, MRI scanning room, ultra sound room, multiple staff work areas, offices, staff lounge, and registration and a waiting area. Maintaining the goal of a consistent look and feel for the AHN Outpatient Centers the project was successfully completed on time and budget.
DRS was recently highlighted in the latest edition of Breaking Ground Magazine! Breaking Ground Magazine is Pittsburgh’s source of information on commercial building construction and real estate development published by Tall Timber Group and edited by Jeff Burd, one of the region’s industry experts.
Our Firm Profile in this edition of Breaking Ground discusses how our firm has been evolving with the promotion of five new Principals in November of 2017, new staff additions, and changing in culture. DRS will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2019 and our transition will continue with the five new Principals putting their imprint on the firm.
For an article in the Breaking Ground Magazine.
The Brick•Side Eatery brings new menu options to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s staff and visitors at the Montefiore campus. A complete renovation to the existing seventh floor cafe at UPMC Montefiore brought opportunities for a new and unique style of retail operation. The Brick•Side Eatery — the first restaurant-style operation of its kind on the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center campus — serves medical center staff, patient visitors and the public. DRS worked closely with UPMC to fit this new concept eatery into the 2,000 square foot existing footprint they were given. It was a fun and challenging project.
This month, UPMC McKeesport Hospital opens a new DeTox unit designed to support the current epidemic of opioid and other drug and alcohol users. More than 300 people celebrated at the Open House provided the first look at this new facility. This 27-bed unit will be the first time that inpatient detox and rehab are in the same unit, located within a hospital and all its services. Patients can move directly from the ER to DeTox and continue their stay for behavioral therapy and medically managed addiction treatment. In addition to the individual rooms, this fresh and bright unit features a wellness room, music room, therapy room and dining room which will support the programs and the people. The simple features of each area provide a safe space those who struggle with depression and other issues associated with addiction.
DRS worked closely with UPMC to create a cost-effective renovation of a former surgical unit which responds to a community needs assessment. It provides the first facility in the region to provide this continuum of care.
For an article in the The Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
For an article in the The Trib Live.
For an article in the The Pittsburgh Business Times.
DRS Architects, a leading Pittsburgh architecture, planning and interior design firm, is pleased to announce the promotion of five new Principals. Paul Cali, AIA; Scott Hazlett, AIA; Jon Funari, AIA; Tobie Nepo, IIDA; Gretchen Zetler, IIDA have been promoted as Principals and will continue their leadership through design excellence, strong client focus and sustainable design.
The 59 year old firm of DRS Architects is best known for taking on and resolving complex challenges with award winning results. Engaging projects for the Department of Energy, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, PA Department of General Services State Police DNA Laboratory, Cranberry Doubletree and Slippery Rock University follow on the firm’s precedent projects in government, healthcare, laboratory, hospitality and higher education.
DRS Architects has announced new owners as follows:
Paul Cali, AIA-Paul joined DRS Architects in 2007 and has led the firm’s design through such successful projects as Thelma Lovette YMCA on Centre Avenue, Nemacolin Woodlands Ski Lodge and the North Fayette Township Community Center. Paul has provided leadership through thoughtful Master Planning and design for Slippery Rock University, Edinboro University and an exciting new plan for significant upgrades to athletic facilities at Duquesne University. Paul is a graduate of Lafayette College and The University of Pennsylvania and an award winning designer completing the Staten Island Ferry Terminal while with a prior firm. Paul is an avid gardener and lives in the Lawrenceville area of Pittsburgh. Paul serves on the foundation board of Thelma Lovette YMCA and supports their mission to strengthen local communities.
Jon Funari, AIA-joined DRS Architects in 2013 and has since led a variety of projects, including a comprehensive facilities condition assessment of over 70 buildings for the Department of Energy/NETL at the Pittsburgh and Morgantown campuses and an historic property study for the Albany campus of NETL. He is currently in charge of the design and construction documents for the new Pennsylvania State Police DNA Analysis Laboratory in Greensburg. During his career, Jon’s work has won numerous awards and citations for design excellence and historic preservation. He has a diverse portfolio of projects in higher education, government, high-design retail, residential, and historic preservation. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Arizona State University. Jon enjoys commuting to work on his bicycle and admiring the great city of Pittsburgh.
Scott Hazlett, AIA, ACHA, EDAC-Scott joined DRS Architects in 2014 to reinvigorate a longstanding DRS specialty in healthcare. Focusing on health facilities in this region, Scott has developed relationships with many area hospitals, particularly through UPMC at Children’s Hospital but also at Presbyterian, Montefiore, McKeesport, East, Passavant, St. Margaret’s and other UPMC outpatient facilities. Other healthcare clients include Excela Health, Ohio Valley Hospital, East Liverpool City Hospital, Alliance Community Hospital, Armstrong County Memorial Hospital, and the senior living communities of Strabane Woods and Strabane Trails. He is a 1981 graduate of Kent State University. Scott serves on the Pediatric Cardiology Auxiliary of the Children’s Hospital Foundation and is an avid golfer and excels at skeet shooting.
Tobie Nepo, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C-who has anchored the firm’s practice of interior design for nearly twenty years, focusing on higher education, healthcare, and government design. Committed to sustainability, she has worked with clients to achieve LEED certification on multiple projects. Tobie has completed significant projects for the North and Allegheny Campuses of the Community College of Allegheny County, Slippery Rock University, the University of Pittsburgh Salk Hall, Duquesne University and other area institutions of higher learning. The PNC YMCA at Market Square and the USX YMCA demonstrate her expertise with health and wellness facilities that meet client goals and exceed their expectations. Tobie is currently engaged at Children’s Hospital developing creative therapy spaces for those children under treatment. Her expertise has also been demonstrated at North Fayette Community Center, the Port Authority of Allegheny County, the Department of Energy and other governmental clients. Tobie is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati.
Gretchen Zetler, IIDA-joined DRS Architects in 2013 and is an interior design graduate of La Roche College. She has had a significant career in corporate design and has completed projects in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Washington, DC, Alexandria VA and Miami FL, among other locales. Since joining DRS Architects she has completed work in office, hospitality, higher education and healthcare design. Corporate clients include Oxford Development, BNY Mellon and Excel4Apps. Gretchen has led renovations to conference facilities for diverse clients such as Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa and BNY Mellon. Currently Gretchen is working in healthcare, developing renovations to food service, conference, office and other public spaces. She is a member of the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) of Pittsburgh.
Current principals S. Philip Hundley, AIA; Greg Madej, AIA, LEED AP BD+C; and Kathryn Jolley, MBA, ASID, LEED AP will continue as Senior Principals making this the seventh major ownership transition for DRS Architects.
The 2015 Master Builders Awards celebrate the relationship between the Contractor and other Team Members in creating exceptional buildings. This year’s winners were no exception. DRS Architects was proud to be a Finalist in the BEST NEW CONSTRUCTION OVER $25 MILLION category for the Salk Pavilion at the University of Pittsburgh. Burchick was the contractor with Joe Wardman as their Project Manager. Owen Cooks and Chris Nieman represented the University. Kathryn Jolley accepted on behalf of DRS Architects, who was the Associate Architect to Ballinger of Philadelphia.
This 80,000 SF facility features state-of-the-art research laboratories, office and conference facilities for the dental and the pharmacy schools at the University. One highlight of the project is The Commons, a stunning area which serves not only as a physical link to the original Salk Dental School, but also as a flexible collaborative, study, and presentation area as needed. Featured is an original enamel mural by Virgil Cantini called Aerial Scape.
It has been a great opportunity for DRS Architects to serve as associate architect in the design and construction of this 80,000 SF research laboratory. Salk Pavilion serves the dental and pharmacy schools at Pitt. It is a significant addition to Salk Hall, a facility that DRS has worked on since the 1960s.
While DRS was fully engaged throughout the design process, we had the specific responsibilities for the LEED certification registration and for much of the construction administration. Through these phases, we have worked directly with Burchick Construction. Regarding LEED, Burchick assisted in the pursuit of credits by diverting all the asphalt and site concrete waste to a facility that processed it into fill material. Burchick also supported the LEED certification process through the use of regional construction materials and the careful management of construction waste. During construction, there was a code issue that affected the zinc flatlock wall panel assembly. Burchick used the mockup process to demonstrate a solution and collaborated on the related details that not only resolved the code issue, but also worked with the window sequence that helped to make up for lost time.
This was a complex project. We worked closely with Burchick to complete this exceptional project for the University of Pittsburgh. Congratulations to the entire team.
DRS Architects made the list in Pittsburgh Magazine City Guide 2015-16: 10 Things We Love Around the Point.
The Thelma Lovette YMCA on Centre Avenue, which was completed in 2012, is noted for wellness, fitness and workouts.
It’s also LEED Silver certified and features a roof top garden.
For an article in the Pittsburgh Magazine.
Healthcare delivery has been changing rapidly over the last 10 years in our local region and across the country. The traditional healthcare points of delivery that included the community hospital, the hospital owned outpatient clinic and the physician-owned doctor’s office are quickly fading into the past as the healthcare model evolves.
What is the healthcare facility model in 2014 and the future? What is driving this rapid change that is altering the healthcare delivery model that we have known most of our lives? There are no simple answers to these questions because of the many influences creating these changes: healthcare insurance and changes in reimbursement; mergers and acquisitions; facilities that look like luxury hotels; healthcare campuses that look more like a college campus; healthcare available at your local Walmart or Walgreen’s for convenience; high-end rehabilitation facilities that are close to home; retirement communities that offer many levels of care including independent living, assisted living, nursing home care and hospice care all in one place; home healthcare that comes to you; and home monitoring that allows you dial in and download for medical care in your own home. This list could go on and on, but you get the idea.
It is not that the physicians and hospital administrators want to have a base hospital and dozens of satellite locations to maintain and travel between; it is the insurance companies that want to reduce costs and the healthcare consumer who wants convenient outpatient or at-home services that are driving these changes. Hospitals and healthcare systems are required to meet these needs because competition for every healthcare dollar is fierce and they need to find strategic advantages in order to secure these dollars. Whether it is two large regional health systems or two community hospitals in neighboring towns, they are all chasing the same healthcare dollars.
For a majority of the last 50-100 years, hospitals have been challenging architects and engineers to continue adding space to hospitals with new additions, air rights expansions over existing buildings and even adding subterranean spaces below existing buildings, parking garages and plazas to accommodate their need for space to house new procedures, new equipment and larger patient through put capacity. The hospital in most communities was always considered a permanent anchor in the context of a great community. It was thought to be too big and too costly to ever move or replace, so renovations, additions and updates were the only logical course of action. Unfortunately, the result was a mega-block of a building that had a lot of contiguous clinical space, no windows, a maze of hallways and the highest cost-per-square foot to build, renovate and maintain than any other place designed for use by people. Lost were the cues given by natural light and views from windows, internal landmarks that were removed for new clinical space and the directional orientation.
Sometimes it seems that more people fear going to the hospital because of what hospital buildings have become. People are in fear of not knowing where they will park and of the hospital building that they know they are going to get lost in, more than they fear the exam or treatment that they are going there for and causing added stress to every visit. Something is wrong with this picture. So maybe the change in the healthcare delivery model was inevitable and long overdue, and the healthcare industry is ready to blow up the old tired model and move on to the new one.
Unfortunately, the new model for healthcare is becoming the opposite of what we have been doing for the last century. The new model is making the hospital smaller and leaner to house mostly critical care and inpatient services. All other services are moving to outpatient or home settings.
What is the Healthcare Facility Model for 2014 and beyond? While there is not a clear-cut answer, here is a partial list of options to start the thought-process and that every healthcare facility can use to evaluate, rank and incorporate for patient satisfaction, recruiting and retaining staff, insurance reimbursement, competitive advantage and affordability.
College campus atmosphere
Close, adequate and safe parking, valet parking also
Hotel-like spaces for patients, visitors and staff
Education centers for patients and families
Family spaces that include books, videos, computers, WI-FI
Adult and child daycare for staff and visitors
Expanded hours to cater to employed customers 6am – 10 pm
On-site retail/dining choices
Expand outpatient services to shopping malls and off-campus locations
Reduce size of hospital facility and use only for critical care and inpatient services
Provide hotel/housing for families of patients
Rehab facilities close to home that look like high-end health clubs
Lower construction costs by building off campus
Lower costs for testing and treatments by taking them off campus
Home visits by doctors, nurses, IV therapy and rehab specialists
Tele-medicine for rural patients
Home monitoring for patient’s convenience
Provide free patient transportation for appointments
Reduce waste. Reduce waste. Reduce waste.
Reduce facility square footage
Reduce energy use and maintenance costs
Cater to the geriatric market (Boomers)
Build flexibility and change into every decision that is made
Expand preventative care medicine offerings
Scott Hazlett is a Senior Architect and Medical Designer at DRS Architects in Pittsburgh, PA. As one of Pennsylvania’s leading architectural, planning and interior design firms, DRS Architects has experience and expertise in a wide variety of healthcare specialties. We pursue quality, technology and innovation in creating facilities that enhance the designed and natural environment. Scott can be reached at
Is less really more? Or can only more be more? This aphorism, “Less is More”, surfaced in the 1855
poem Andrea del Sarto by Robert Browning, but was later attributed to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a German/American architect of the modern era, as his motto due to repeated use by him and his followers. He used this simple concept as a way of expressing the spirit of twentieth-century architectural style and adopted it as a precept for minimalist design, or in layman’s terms, “keep it simple”.
How does this “less is more” concept apply to healthcare in the twenty-first century? From an architectural and facility perspective, “less is more” describes where the hospital of the future is going, or has been going for the last 10 years. Many of us just didn’t notice this evolution. Driven by changes in insurance reimbursement, escalating healthcare costs, fierce competition for the healthcare dollar and the wants and desires of the healthcare consumer, the hospital facility is shrinking and outpatient locations and homecare offerings are growing. The winner in this race is going to be the healthcare systems that downsize their hospital-based facilities and grow their outpatient and homecare facilities as quickly as possible. The large hospital building that housed all services in one location used to be thought of as an asset, but now, in these changing times, it has become a liability.
Hospital construction is one of the most expensive square footages to build, maintain, heat, cool and constantly meet the highest level of regulations and scrutiny by authorities having jurisdiction. The new model of healthcare delivery will reduce the size of a hospital to its smallest possible functional size to house the 24-hours-a-day critical care and inpatient care components only. All other outpatient care, administrative and support services will be housed elsewhere in construction that is less costly to build, maintain, heat, cool and has much less stringent regulations to meet. And, these non-hospital facilities will be located closer to healthcare consumers’ homes, which will increase patient satisfaction. Sounds like a win-win situation for everyone involved.
A smaller hospital, with less square footage to heat, cool, clean, supply, staff, secure, light and maintain 24-hours-a-day, 365 days a year, every year, will save many dollars and FTEs. The hospital’s chief financial officer will be smiling from ear to ear. But to realize these savings, there are only two ways to achieve this size reduction. The first option is to build a newer, smaller, more efficient and flexible hospital and abandon the old facility. The second is to consolidate services into existing areas that are the newest and most efficient and tear down the inefficient and more costly wings. Simply closing or abandoning some of the existing space is not a solution. “Less is more” in this case means having space that is only in use generating income and eliminating the rest.
Allowing the hospital facility and campus to be smaller and more compact provides a number of benefits including: less parking required, improved circulation simplicity and clarity, lower energy and maintenance costs, reduced distances between departments and services, fewer staff members required to run the facility and the option to have windows in most spaces to promote healing. By reducing the 24- hours-a-day portion of the healthcare system to the minimum square footage and increasing the 8am -5pm portion to the maximum, major cost savings should be realized. This is a 180º turnabout in the healthcare delivery model after spending the last 50-100 years making hospitals bigger so that they can be everything to every person in one location. This new model may now result in a hospital that is only about 25% of a health system’s area and the other 75% is non-hospital space for outpatient services, administration and support.
The “Lean Design and Operation” concept that has been adopted by many hospitals nationwide in the last 5-10 years has had the goal of trying to reduce healthcare costs, improve efficiency, shorten steps for staff members, improve patient and staff safety and make facilities more user-friendly. Many institutions have been pleased with their efforts and results to make their facilities and processes leaner and more efficient. But, like most good things, “Lean” is not a new concept, it is just a validation that “Less is More.”
Scott Hazlett is a Senior Architect and Medical Designer at DRS Architects in Pittsburgh, PA. As one of Pennsylvania’s leading architectural, planning and interior design firms, DRS Architects has experience and expertise in a wide variety of healthcare specialties. We pursue quality, technology and innovation in creating facilities that enhance the designed and natural environment.
From an article in the AIA Pittsburgh’s Columns.
DRS Architects was recently featured in AIA Pittsburgh’s Columns, When Architects Give Back. AIA Pittsburgh started this feature section to share the positive impact architectural firms have by getting their firms involved with local volunteerism. We at DRS believe volunteering for local organizations is what enriches our society, brings us together as a community, and helps keep local businesses and other organizations afloat in our city we love, Pittsburgh!
DRS has contributed time by volunteering with local organizations such as Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Ronald McDonald House Charities, The Center for Creative Reuse, The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, NOMA’s Project Pipeline, and many more area non-profits.
This year DRS Architects is celebrating 60-years of design excellence in architecture, planning and interior design. We want to share more than six decades of our history with you and thank our clients for their continued support. Please follow this link for the years spanning from 1989-1998.
January 16th was the official opening day of Dream Big Studio! The Studio is an independent TV and radio studio designed to increase the social, creative and learning opportunities for patients and their families during their stay. With the current outbreak of Covid-19, the options for interactive play and socialization in the hospital were required to adapt. Dream Big Studio has been a wonderful resource by stepping up with creative programming that engages children and their families while remaining in their patient rooms.The creative Child Life staff have developed daily broadcasts to engage the patients including BINGO that allows children to play and call in to the studio when they win a game! Additional programming includes the Creative and Expressive Art Therapy team where they share music and art projects that children can follow and create themselves with packets that are delivered to their rooms. The Studio has been a wonderful resource helping to keep patients and their families entertained and connected during their stay at the hospital.
The success of the project was due to the entire team including the hospital team, Allen & Shariff Engineering, The Sextant Group, and Taylor Structural Engineering. MBM Contracting led the construction of the project. The DRS team was led by Principal, Tobie Nepo and included Graduate Architects’ Sneha Mansukhani and Michael Larche.
DRS was first introduced to the Department in 2016 when brought in to complete a study for both the Studio and the Music and Art Therapy Suite. During this time, DRS had the pleasure of working with Riley Hammond, Child Life Specialist Coordinator for the Dream Big Studio.
Could you please share a little about your background and how you became Child Life Specialist Coordinator of the Dream Big Studio?
I’m a Certified Child Life Specialist with my Masters in Family & Child Studies from Texas State University and my Bachelors in Psychology from Texas A&M University. I’ll celebrate 7 years in this profession in August and have worked in a variety of settings – inpatient (acute care, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Intermediate Care), outpatient (dialysis) and emergency care. I was looking for growth in my profession and found the coordinator opening for Dream Big Studio. After learning more about the position and interviewing, I knew the position would be a good fit. I’ve been able to use my strategic thinking and initiative to develop and coordinate programming for Dream Big Studio. I’m a born and raised Texan with all of my family still in Texas. I took a chance that moving from the state I love would pay off and it definitely has!
How many children are typically tuning into the TV Radio Studio a day?
We’re unable to formally track viewership; however, we have some anecdotal ways to measure engagement. On average, we have 2-20 callers for our daily live bingo shows. Our tune in & make it shows draw the largest crowd with between 42-90 kits given out to patients and family members.
Do you have a favorite story you could share?
I love the joy that bingo brings. We’ve had many patients (and adult family members) who play daily and count on being able to call in. When they call in we celebrate with a fun noise maker (ex. Cow bells, rubber chickens, giant hand clappers), talk with the winner and either have a question to ask them or a joke to tell them. Children love being able to be on air to be heard, celebrated and continue their fun from winning with a BINGO. The joy doesn’t stop on air. Following the show, we go to all the children’s rooms to deliver prizes. This is a second round of fun and joy as children get to choose their prizes, staff get to see how much fun they had playing and family members express gratitude for what we’re offering.
We have seen your wall of celebrities, who has visited the Studio?
Brett Keisel, Brett Kissel, Andrew McCutchen, Karl Smith aka Dr. Sparks, Mickey Mouse, Daniel Tiger, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Children’s Museum art studio staff, the mayor, and Sidney Crosby.
What shared activity do patients enjoy the most?
The most popular show outside of the grand opening has been the slime show. Children love to make things, especially slime.
The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) Pittsburgh’s 2nd Annual Project Pipeline was a success! DRS Graduate Architects Sneha Mansukhani and Michael Larche joined 60 talented middle school and high school students at Carnegie Mellon University , leading them in a design project to introduce them to the field of architecture last summer. Planning has already begun for this summer’s Project Pipeline. To help show your support, click the link to donate to NOMA’s Project Pipeline or watch the website for further details.
Spaces and the way we interact in them have dramatically changed over the past few months. We are learning different ways to engage, share ideas, socialize, and acquire new skills remotely. The Dream Big Studio created new programming, understanding the importance of organized activities and filling the void where active open spaces were no longer possible. The Studio continues to support the patients, their families, and the medical staff to engage in music, art and entertainment, as part of the healing process on a daily basis.
We understand that a major event such as Covid -19, can have a lasting impact on the way we think about space within healthcare. The need to design facilities for resilience and increased responsiveness will mean providing spaces that may not be for inpatient beds today, but can be used as such in a crisis. Rethinking active and populated waiting areas to allow for social distancing while working within the physical parameters of a building may require change to both medical processes as well as the physical spaces where they occur. Carefully choosing smart materials, and reducing the amount of surfaces that patients and healthcare workers come into contact with, will help mitigate the transfer of pathogens throughout a building. Similar to so many industries the healthcare environment is one that will be reevaluating process and implementing change as a result of this most recent pandemic.
This year DRS Architects is celebrating 60-years of design excellence in architecture, planning and interior design. We want to share more than six decades of our history with you and thank our clients for their continued support. Please follow this link for the years spanning from 1999-2008.
At DRS Architects we are always in search of creative and talented architects and interior designers to join our team.
Potential candidates should forward their resume and portfolio to firstname.lastname@example.org.