Job center to spruce up its new location in McKees Rocks
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The McKees Rocks Employment and Training Center has moved to a larger, walk-in location at 709 Chartiers Ave.
And the 1,300-square-foot site, a former tattoo parlor, is in line for a makeover, courtesy of the advanced interior design students from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Taris Vrcek, executive director of the McKees Rocks Development Corp., worked with Art Institute teacher Lisa Whitney to make her students a major part of the design process for the employment and training center. On Friday, the students displayed their ideas for the center with scale models they created.
As part of the project, students came out to the facility, met with the staff, took measurements then went to work on new design ideas just like they would in a normal work setting. "I wanted a design that would be appealing and help to bring people in," said student Melissa Niedbala of Robinson.
She incorporated into her model a row of large planters outside the windows to create an inviting entrance, along with a concave glass partition between the public and private areas inside the facility. She also added track lighting and a coffee bar to create a more relaxed setting.
Leah McCormack from Pittsburgh paid homage to McKees Rocks' industrial heritage by using aluminum and other metals in her design.
She said she wanted the space to look more open and added plenty of natural light to make an eye-catching design.
Abbey Mirkir of Pittsburgh emphasized a low-cost project that featured reused building materials from Construction Junction.
"I wanted to create a design that was visually exciting while sticking to a tight budget," she said.
In addition to reclaimed wood, all of the furniture pieces she selected were low-cost items available at IKEA, Target or Walmart, and to save on energy costs, she recommended LED lighting.
It's now up to the employment and training center to pick one design or select elements from several student designs to incorporate into the project.
Kelly Spewock, department chair of interior design at the school, said students have helped plan new spaces for community groups before in Braddock, Monessen and Carnegie, where they worked with the Historical Society of Carnegie.
"We want to reach out not only to the unemployed but to the underemployed," said Mr. Vrcek.
"We needed aesthetic improvements to the site to attract job seekers to come, and we wanted some creative eyes to look at the space," he said,
Scott Albert who runs the employment and training center, said it serves a couple thousand clients a year. The center helps them with career planning, job placement and job referrals.
No firm date has yet been established to adopt a new design, but the effort has support from state Rep. Dan Deasy, D-Westwood, and corporate partners Duquesne Light, UPMC and First Niagara Bank
"We want to be involved in communities, and the CDC is important for economic growth in McKees Rocks," said Charles Peterson of First Niagara Bank, which has a branch office on Chartiers Avenue.
First Published June 14, 2012 5:20 am