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KSS Architects strives to create environments that stimulate commerce, learning and community

The second-generation firm is quietly carving a niche in the entreprenuerial world by designing and planning innovative and flexible work spaces to attract the “Google generation.”

Edmund Klimek, managing partner at KSS Architects in Center City, founded in 1983.
Edmund Klimek, managing partner at KSS Architects in Center City, founded in 1983.Read moreMICHAEL HINKELMAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF

E DMUND KLIMEK, 52, of Plainsboro, Middlesex County, N.J., is managing partner of KSS Architects in Center City. The full-service architecture, planning and interior-design firm - which also has offices in Princeton - was founded in 1983. It has since broadened its scope, with notable projects in the startup community, higher education, corporate headquarters and charter schools. The firm focuses on collaborative and innovative work spaces and projects with social impact.

Q: Tell me about your recent projects.

A: We're doing the Pennovation Center near Grays Ferry with another firm. That's 58,000 square feet and is creating a much larger space for incubating startups at Penn. It will be completed in 2016 and combines a former DuPont industrial site with co-working space. We designed a project at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, now under construction, for their electronic health records team. They had to reach out to the Google generation, so we created a 30,000-square-foot dynamic, flexible work space to help them attract and retain talent. In 2014, we designed a new corporate headquarters for Burlington Stores Inc. They wanted to rebrand to attract a younger generation. We did a 225,000-square-foot space marketplace environment for them.

Q: What's the biz do?

A: I'd say 85 percent of our work is with clients we've worked with before. I'd say a third of our work is design for corporations, which could be office space or industrial. Another third is higher education, everything from campus centers to academic buildings to innovation space. The other third is designing community-based charter schools and special-needs schools in Philadelphia and Newark, N.J.

Q: The biz model?

A: Largely established, fixed fees based on invitations to bid or from existing clients.

Q: The value prop?

A: We're really thinking about strategic planning, and because of that we add value that's more than just designing a building. At the end of the process, we ask: Have we done something meaningful to change the environment? An example of that was the new WHYY building we did in 2010. The idea was to educate the community about digital media and enliven a streetscape. If you walk by it, that facade in the front is an LED screen that creates a dynamic display.

Q: Clients?

A: We have 50 to 60 clients. An example is McKesson Corp., and we do work with them throughout the country. Penn and Drexel are clients. We're doing a renovation for Drexel's medical school under construction.

Q: How big a biz?

A: Gross billings are $15 million to $18 million this year. We have 60 full-time employees.

Twitter: @MHinkelman