Architecture firm W2A Design Group is designing a better future for NCC students
“Our relationship with Northampton Community College (NCC) goes back many years,” says David Drake, W2A Design Group’s CEO. As the associate architect for NCC’s initial campus buildings, the Allentown, PA, firm has worked on many construction projects and buildings on campus, including the Gates Center located on the Bethlehem campus.
W2A Design Group offers a multidisciplined approach to architecture, planning, and interior design. Rather than specializing in specific projects or markets, the company provides unique solutions to clients within the corporate, government, educational, healthcare, library, religious, and industrial sectors.
Supporting Students Through Scholarships
The company has been a long-time contributor to an architectural studies scholarship.
Drake says, “We’ve been motivated by the work our original firm did on campus, our hand in the original construction, and the value that the college continues to offer its students.”
“Twice a year NCC sends a letter about the scholarship. Every time they talk about how the funding that we and others contribute is invaluable because so many of the college’s students come from families without a lot of resources. Many of the students work at least part time,” he adds, “but the financial support [through the scholarship] really helps. Without that additional support, many students wouldn’t be able to go to college. I think it’s gratifying to all of us that we can help.”
Internships: Valuable for Gaining Practical Experience
“Many students have used NCC as a steppingstone professionally,” Drake says. “And we’ve had several interns and graduates work with us.”
One beneficiary to the internship is Anthony Gallucci. When he graduated in 2016 with an associates of applied science in architecture, he went from intern to full-time team member. An architectural detailer and draftsman, he coordinates W2A’s construction drawings, draws plans and detailing, and more.
A former W2A interior designer who now teaches at NCC introduced Gallucci to Drake.
“One of my NCC professors knew someone at W2A and that they needed someone. I interviewed, came in as an intern, and was offered a full time position after I graduated. I just started running out of the gate,” Gallucci says.
Gallucci’s internship involved drafting. “A lot of what I learned at NCC is 3D, but we do more 2D CAD (computer assisted design) here which I hadn’t had since high school. I learned a lot of surveying tips and tricks, too,” he says. “What W2A offered was exposure to more real world practical applications, and it expanded my understanding of how the business works, with code and ADA information.”
In high school, Gallucci had taken an architectural drawing class. “I thought it was interesting and I was looking for schools — but I didn’t want to pay $50,000 a year. Although Lehigh Carbon Community College is closer, they didn’t have the program I wanted, but NCC did,” he says.
Adding Knowledge Through Community College
Breanne Hill, ASI, graduated with an associates of applied science in interior design in 2017. Her situation is a bit different, because she’d already earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kutztown University in 2012.
“After I graduated,” she says, “I wanted to do some other things. I wanted to get into design and was looking for ways to do that. I have a friend who went to NCC and then Kutztown, and she told me about NCC’s program.”
Hill met with a counselor at NCC to discuss her options. “I wasn’t sure if I could make it work since I was also working full time. When I was looking at a second degree, it was important to me to find the best school where I could gain the knowledge I need for that next tier. NCC’s program was the best option.”
Since joining W2A in 2017, Hill has applied her interior design knowledge to define user needs, space planning, and color/ finish material selection for new design and renovation clients at W2A. She also assists principal and senior/ project managers with site surveys and the execution of project drawings and specifications.
The partnership between W2A and NCC has not only built beautiful campus spaces, but a better future for students.