Ondra-Huyett Associates of Upper Macungie Township partnered with MKSD Architects of South Whitehall Township to design and build renovations to the former Cetronia Ambulance Center, transforming the site into a new home for the American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
The site, at 3939 Broadway in South Whitehall Township, will serve as the office, training center and disaster response center for the Red Cross, which declined to disclose the cost of the project.
The renovation included 7,000 square feet of new office space for staff and training areas for volunteers on the main floor and lower level operations areas, said Bud Hackett, director of business development for Ondra-Huyett. The renovations to the garage/disaster response area added 5,000 square feet.
The facility is equipped with upgraded communications technology to support operations and training.
Jessica Klocek, project architect for MKSD, said half of the office space was in the basement area and architects reused that space for training facilities and to make it a more welcoming office area.
“It had a lot of small rooms, and we needed to open it up to create a larger, open office-space,” said Mark Thompson, a partner of MKSD.
One of the challenges involved adding Americans with Disabilities Act access points to the building and ADA capabilities to the restrooms, Klocek said.
The designers also warmed the interior to create a more hospitable feel.
“This was a great project to work on because we know how important the American Red Cross is to our community,” said Robin Hoover, Ondra-Huyett’s director of project management.
The challenge for the project was implementing a new design standard for Red Cross centers, she said.
“This was the first time Red Cross built a facility using some innovative layouts that encourages greater cooperation among staff and volunteers on a day-to-day basis as well in a crisis,” Hoover said.
The organization previously had a location on Avenue A in Bethlehem near Lehigh Valley International Airport, moving to a temporary location on Marcon Boulevard in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, before moving to the new site.
“We’re really excited to be here,” said Peter Brown, executive director for the Greater Lehigh Valley American Red Cross. “When we were looking for space, we were looking for access to highways; the community has been very receptive.”
Cetronia Ambulance Corps, a nonprofit community-based emergency medical services provider, previously had been located in the building, which was built in 1962, before moving to a renovated facility down the road.
The organization has nine staff working on the site and about 300 volunteers, some of whom are at the site.
“It’s a good setting because we’re not in an office park,” Brown said. “We think it will help us better connect with the community.”