Looking Back & Moving Forward: Reflecting on the Impact of the Newly Renovated Advanced Technical Skills Institute

The tables are turning in the career field, and the demand for career-focused training is higher than ever. Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City has been dedicated to providing accessible and relevant training programs for all through the construction of several new facilities. In spring of 2022, the new Advanced Technical Skills Institute officially opened, offering state-of-the-art equipment and spaces thoughtfully designed to host each specific technical program. Looking back over their first year of classes, there are several important benchmarks demonstrating the impact the new facility has had on enrollment and student success overall.

The newly renovated facility was previously a publishing house, and the site was strategically selected due to its location in the heart of the city along public bus routes. One of the main purposes identified at the beginning of the design process was to attract a greater number of students to expose them to skilled trade jobs early and understand the benefits and opportunities associated. Through creating an inclusive, accessible environment and equipping students with a cutting-edge facility that encourages collaboration, student enrollment increased by 17% since the facility’s opening in spring of 2022. The opportunities now available to students play a direct role in their potential for success in the future workforce, as they bridge the gap between the demand for skilled tradespeople and the available trained workers.

“The learning environment is much nicer than what we had before. We were able to expand welding capabilities and have the latest and greatest equipment. Our students are experiencing a much more robust curriculum than we were able to teach at our previous facility.” -Jeffrey Ullmann, Chief Facilities Officer at Metropolitan Community College

One of the most important aspects of the new learning environment is its accessibility to a broader demographic. Every individual should have equal opportunity to pursue their passions and gain technical skills empowering them to be successful in a career. Through selecting an accessible site, a wide range of programs and varying class times to accommodate non-traditional students and students with children, learners of all backgrounds, ages, abilities and cultures are drawn to the program, leading to a 5% increase in the minority student population. A diverse population enriches the overall learning experience for all by fostering understanding and collaboration between students with different cultural perspectives, and the social spine of the building offers a comfortable area for students to gather before or after class while mingling with students from adjacent programs. The building itself was delivered with 52% MWBE participation, demonstrating just how important it is to “practice what we preach,” so to speak.

The new learning environment has opened doors for an entire local generation of skilled workers, impacting not only students but the trade jobs they will soon fill upon graduation.

“The trades shortage is an issue MCC is continually trying to address. The quality of the new Advanced Technical Skills Institute has garnered much attention from local industry and community organizations. News about our beautiful new facility is traveling among community members and we are seeing new partnerships develop as a result,” says Dean of CTE and ATSI Site Administrator Lisa Bray says.

The impact of the new building goes beyond just the physical space. It has accommodated a more robust curriculum through larger learning labs and reached rural high school students through virtual broadcast training. Students in local districts, such as the North Kansas City School District, can partner with MCC to take online courses to prepare for graduation and taking the next step towards their career. Speed-dating style interviews with industry professionals have resulted in over 90% of students securing employment opportunities upon program completion. The comprehensive training and new facility are setting students up for success in a high-demand market while embracing diversity and providing accessible education for all.


Client Leader Albert Ray brings years of experience designing higher education facilities at Hollis + Miller Architects, an integrated architecture firm designing the future of learning environments. Share your thoughts on Facebook, LinkedIn or on Twitter @HollisandMiller.

Graduating into the Real World: Mollie Mytinger, Junior Graphic Designer

The transition from university to the “real world” can be intimidating, especially for young professionals determining which path to take when applying their education to a profession. Mollie Mytinger, a junior graphic designer, joined us after graduating from the University of Kansas. Throw a global pandemic into the mix and Mollie had her work cut out. However, from day one, she hit the ground running and continues to leave an impact on her coworkers and clients alike.

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Behind the Bonds: Improvements leaving a lasting impact

NOTE: This is the first of a series of posts on upcoming bond measures on the Nov. 2 ballot. You will be able to read the rest of the series here.

While school bond projects aren’t always the most fascinating thing to vote on, they are one of the most important things a community decides on during elections.

Bond measures reaffirm the local community’s choice to invest in capital repairs and improvements to schools, benefitting students’ collective futures. What we decide today helps the next generation of Coloradans.

With the explosive growth in Colorado, bond projects are a necessity to keep up with essential repairs, improvement projects and new construction. Pair that with the pandemic and remote learning bringing a higher need for connectivity and technological updates in schools and you’ll have quite a task list.

Each bond project is a reflection of its schools and every district must decide what makes the most sense for its students, staff and community. That’s why working with a team who is 100% dedicated to education and has deep expertise with public school bond campaigns in Colorado is so important.

Several bond measures will be on the ballot Nov. 2 in Northern Colorado, the Springs and throughout the Mountain Communities.

Catching up and Maintaining the Maintenance

Not a lot of Colorado school districts have passed bonds in recent years, however we are seeing several districts aiming to take advantage of lower interest rates and the return to in-person learning to provide much-needed renovations to buildings. Even if you aren’t seeing new school buildings going up, what’s happening inside is equally as important.  

Take flooring, for example. Designing and installing new flooring is an opportunity to incorporate wayfinding and creativity. When done correctly, wayfinding helps with the management and flow of students, particularly in cases where social distancing may still be needed. Flooring design utilizes shapes, directional patterns and color to promote movement throughout schools, while also improving user experiences and providing learning opportunities for students.

Bonds also fund maintenance projects, and while many may not be glamorous, they improve overall health. For example, removal of airborne chemicals lying dormant in old carpet, walls and tiles. Many understand the pain of removing asbestos, but volatile organic compounds (VOCs) also lurk in older rooms and while they aren’t specifically dangerous, it’s good to remove them from the classroom. In terms of health, it’s addition by subtraction.

Crank up the HVAC installation and repairs

We’d venture to say a number of Colorado natives didn’t worry about air conditioning growing up, and to hear us say HVAC units should be a top priority may seem a bit odd.

COVID proved top-notch ventilation systems are a must. It’s more than just keeping everyone cool in rising temperatures – it is providing consistent airflow and air quality for students. Today’s HVAC systems are measuring and filtering CO2 levels and other airborne particles, increasing student health and leading to better learning.

While this isn’t just a problem in Colorado (The General Accountability Office found 41% of public school districts need to update or replace HVAC systems) it is something Colorado schools need to tackle as we experience weather shifts and changing federal and state air quality standards.

Getting technical on technology and design

Education is aimed at preparing students for the future and laying a foundation for the workforce, and therefore it is critical to create and maintain a learning environment where students can develop skills and utilize the technology they will become accustomed to on a daily basis.

Technology upgrades provide pathways for current additions and future upgrades, and this looks different for each school and district. For some, it’s adding charging stations and more smart-enabled learning spaces, as well as devices for students. For other schools, an overhaul of the communication pipeline might be needed: wi-fi and/or fiber optics, cyber security updates, the addition of multimedia technology in new innovation labs and the like. Bond measures cover all of these crucial enhancements.

Facilities designed 30-60 years ago simply don’t have the same maintenance items matching up with today’s curriculum. Teaching and learning continue to evolve, and the psychology of learning has also changed. It is important the physical learning space supports that and remains flexible for the future.

Voters can find more information on specific bond proposals for Brighton 27 J, Weld County School District R4, Manitou Springs School District 14 and Colorado Springs School District No. 11 in the highlighted links.

Once bonds are passed, the building begins. To maximize bond-issued funds, you need a partner who specializes in building learning spaces and knows the local community. Contact Hollis + Miller to learn more about the impacts these bond projects can make or to speak to our team about how we can help with bond support graphics and long-range planning.

A Look Back at Summer with our Emerging Professionals

The summer has flown by, and we’ve been lucky enough to learn and grow with six amazing emerging professionals on our team. From architecture to interior design and spanning across both our Kansas City and Castle Rock offices, these outstanding students have found their way here at Hollis and Miller. We know they will do great things in the future.

Our Emerging Professionals have been busy immersing themselves in project work with our teams and helping out as needed while learning throughout the whole experience. Each had an opportunity to grow their design, networking, professionalism, public speaking and research skills over the course of a few months. While we are sad to see them head back to school, we’ve enjoyed the breath of fresh air students always bring to our projects and the overall office environment! We’ll be wishing them the best as universities start back up with the fall semester.




“I’ve learned so much while working at Hollis + Miller and truly feel I have grown in bettering my understanding as an architect. From being a part of final design, completing punch lists, site visits, and being an active part of a project almost all the way through, it’s been quite an experience this summer.”

– Kaitlyn (Kate) Dunn




“I immediately felt welcomed at Hollis + Miller. The industrial feel of the office, friendliness of employees and overall vibe helped me feel like I fit in from the beginning. I gained so much while learning from the knowledgable staff over the past few months!”

– Karis Sandin



“I was drawn to Hollis + Miller because they truly value the user experience. Everyone here is so incredibly kind and welcoming. It was so rewarding to step out of my comfort zone this summer while learning through hands- on experience!”

– Molly Bruns



“Hollis + Miller is such a supportive work environment. It’s been invaluable learning about real-world experiences related to architecture and the design process!”

– Morgan Klupka