EDS helps out a PAL
Recently, Expert Design Solutions’ Jennifer Annand was excited to be one of the designers involved in a dramatic renovation and revamping project for the Police Athletic League office in Nashua, NH.
On any given day, more than 65 ‘PAL kids’ ages of 7–18 come to Nashua PAL on Ash Street after school and during vacation periods to participate in free activities – homework club, cooking, crafts, photography, one-on-one mentoring, boxing, open gym, gaming, young female empowerment opportunities, field trips and more. More than 400 Nashua youth are cared for each year at Youth Safe Haven at no cost to families.
Nashua PAL was selected by Building on Hope to be their project for 2020, and they worked with several designers and artists in the refreshing of this old building that serves the city’s children with a variety of fun and educational programs. The Building on Hope renovation of the PAL Youth Safe Haven added new safety features, increased accessibility, and vital educational resources. Two major building improvements included an elevator to allow access to all three floors, as well as solar panels for conversion to green energy.
The interior of the building has many rooms that serve different functions for the children of Nashua, and many renovations were needed. As a selected designer, Jennifer was tasked with creating a dynamic new look and greatly improved spatial efficiency in the front office for the PAL officer. Working with Sullivan Construction and Longchamps Electric, Jennifer transformed the very small space into something which now feels at once spacious, fun and functional.
This was Jennifer’s second project with Building on Hope – the first was the Crisis Center of Central NH in Concord, NH, completed in 2018 after 126 hours over the course of a year. This more recent project was stymied by COVID-19 concerns, but was accomplished over a year and a half in 102 work hours, completed in December 2020.
“When I first started designing, the space was to be used by officer Mike DeBisz, and during the length of the project, the position was transitioned to Officer Bennett Stusse,” Jennifer said. “This is normal, as PAL officers get switched out every few years. However, the design requests were similar, except for Officer Ben’s request for a mini-fridge and a stand-up desk. Additionally, a desk for Program Coordinator Jaela Solis was requested along the way, so this room needed to accommodate multiple workspaces.”
For safety needs, the office was designed with a two-way mirror, so that the hallway down to the basement stairwell would be monitored from the office. Additionally, a TV monitor is on another adjacent wall of the office for building surveillance.
One of the standout features in Jennifer’s design was her choice of creating a dazzling ceiling of fireworks. “The most unique part of the room is the ceiling mural, which was a little intimidating to find someone to install correctly,” she said. “Thankfully, my contractor, Sullivan Construction out of Bedford, was able to connect me to someone qualified to do the work.”
Many of the items in the room were donated, and all were brand-new. Home Depot was responsible for donating the mini fridge, shelving over the second desk, and closet interior shelving. Jack the Liquidator in Manchester donated both desks for the project.
Each room being renovated was given its own budget – Jennifer was able to complete her room transformation with only ⅔ of her budget! Her excess allotment was utilized in other renovation areas that were over-budget.
In addition to the office she redesigned, Jennifer was asked to step up and also renovate the adjacent hallway. “The hallway was something that no designer had signed up for, and was requested of me since it adjoined the office,” she said. “I took it on and was charged with finding a water bubbler for the space – which was out of my usual scope of products, being in residential design. Again, Sullivan Construction was able to help out with that request.”
The completed project was revealed via a live virtual event in December 2020. The transformation of the entire building is truly astonishing. Jennifer and Expert Design Solutions are so happy to have been a part of this important renovation project – Nashua PAL does so much good work for local kids, and having this dynamic new space to do it in will surely invigorate all involved!