Case Studies

Platz Associates

Blending Function, Aesthetics and Cost-efficiency

Architecture firm Platz Associates knows that clients desire buildings that are functional, beautiful and affordable. Furthermore, the team provides a hassle-free experience by providing a project that runs smoothly, finishes on time and is within budget. By integrating design, engineering and construction management, Platz Associates is happily servicing clients.

The company was cofounded in 1980 by Thomas Platz, AIA and principal of Platz Associates. Since inception, the company has amassed an impressive portfolio by working for diverse cliental across Maine, including extensive involvement in the Lewiston/Auburn area. Over the past 33 years, the firm has helped to restore and preserve the cultural fabric of its hometown, partnered in urban renewal efforts, and increased the downtown’s aesthetics, saved the city money and – plain and simple – made people happy.

Made up of a tight-knit team of 10, Platz Associates is an efficient company; the company’s experts include architects, engineers and construction managers who boast decades of experience. The integrated team enables the firm to specialize in design, site evaluation, planning, permitting, budgeting project management; the overall result is increased ease and decreased cost for clients.

Keeping the entire operation running well is Platz Associates’ investment in technology. The firm has been producing drawings electronically since 1985 and has a network of computers stocked with top-of-the-line industry programs. As for human power, the team is current on land use, fire, life safety and building codes. With many years of experience, projects can be fast-tracked.

As a native of Auburn-Lewiston, Thomas knows the area and its history. However, Thomas left Maine to obtain his master’s degree in architecture from Harvard University and complete special studies in construction at MIT.

While in the Boston area Thomas worked on several nationally prominent projects, including the impressive National Aquarium in Baltimore and the historic Smith College Library. As principal-in-charge, Thomas is involved with all projects at the firm and utilizes his wealth of experience in design, development, financing, scheduling, tax credits, permitting and contract negotiations.

Second in command is Bruce Allen, sole construction engineer and project manager at Platz Associates, who boasts 30 years of construction experience. Bruce has managed contracts in excess of $25 million, and, furthermore, has been the construction engineer for $140 million worth of projects.

These projects include both rehab and new construction and range from retail tenant fit-up to high-rise office buildings. The benefits of an architecture firm with multidisciplinary capabilities are many, but the greatest benefit to clients may be the firm’s ability to create designs that work – the first time around.

Diverse Body of Work

The company’s clients reside in both the private and public sector and bring Platz Associates a variety of educational, commercial, industrial, medical, retail, residential and governmental projects. Currently, Platz Associates continues to utilize its many skills as the master planner, architect, engineer and construction manager on the massive restoration and renovation of the historic Bates Mill Complex in Lewiston.

With 10 buildings in total, the project consists of 1.2 million square feet across a 12-acre parcel and has been completed in phases since 1997. The complex is home to restaurants, offices and banks, and is projected to support 5,000 people at full build-out.
Redevelopment of the Bates Mill Complex is in line with one of Platz Associates’ specialties. According to Thomas, rehabbing old mill structures and completing historic renovations are within the team’s scope. Some of these efforts have garnered the firm awards for its work in helping to retain Lewiston’s history.

One such project is the Franco-American Heritage Center, for which Platz Associates performed the feasibility study, code review, programming, as well as architectural design. The Heritage Center is a rebirth of a historic church, a Gothic beauty with a white masonry exterior that had to be completely re-pointed.

Inside, the church was transformed into a performance hall and museum. The adaptive reuse project is heralded as preserving the Franco community in Lewiston’s Little Canada. Along the same lines, Platz Associates turned the former Knapp Shoe Building, built in the late 19th century, into a suitable space for the Central Maine Medical Center. The refurbishing took place across 125,000 square feet and five floors, which included the newly located Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing.

Another important redevelopment for the city of Lewiston by Platz Associates was the rehabilitation of the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, current home of the Portland Pirates Hockey team and a local landmark. The firm was tasked with turning the venue into a top-notch entertainment facility while preserving its charm. The project called for interior renovations, a three-story addition, including a new concession area and VIP lounge, as well as a new façade with ADA access.

Securing Repeat Cliental

Despite its diversification, the firm is Maine’s go-to architect for the design and construction of parking garages. Of note is the Lewiston Park Street Garage, which was featured in the AISC publication Modern Steel Construction and gained national recognition for creative design utilizing steel. Located on a prominent downtown site, the 350-space parking garage with an adjacent 2,400-square-foot bus station was built for the city of Lewiston as a key stylistic component of its urban revitalization.

Simultaneously, Platz Associates met the city’s budget, engineered the best layout, including appropriately placed vehicular and pedestrian entrances and stairwells, as well as created a pleasing aesthetic. To meet the visual requirements, the firm designed perimeter walls that would mimic storefronts and create distinct vertical sections with ornamental brick panels and arches. The project is a prime example of work by Platz Associates that delivers on its goal to create buildings that are functional, aesthetically pleasing and fiscally responsible.

The Park Street Garage, and the entire portfolio of Platz Associates, is something its principal-in-charge can be proud of. However, Thomas notes that success for him is found in happy clients, and that’s what the firm maintains. Clients that enjoy the benefits of working with Platz Associates’ integrated experience come back time and time again.

Published on: February 12, 2014

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