A mixed-use complex designed by New York-based Morris Adjmi, in collaboration with Philadelphia-based practice Onion Flats Architecture, was widely praised at a monthly Civic Design Review (CDR) in Philadelphia.
Located on 4300-4326 Ridge Avenue in the East Falls neighborhood, the scheme required CDR approval due to it encompassing more than 100,000 square feet of gross floor area, and more than 100 new dwelling units. Known as “Ridge Flats,” the project has been in the works since at least 2011 when the proposal, then originally just by local practice Onion Flats was given the go ahead by authorities.
The complex was due to be built by 2014, but three years ago the CDR committee advised altering the building’s primary access point. “By virtue of that we had to redesign it entirely because of the way it affected parking,” said David Grosso of Grasso Holdings, the developer behind the project.
Since then Morris Adjmi has has stepped in and plans have been drastically changed to offer a staggered facade and a much larger courtyard. The scheme will be built on a 1.7-acre plot and offer 206 residential units—up from the originally planned 147. A fifth of these will come already furnished meanwhile plans also include 20,188 square feet of commercial space, a rooftop pool area, and a garage that will hold 194 parking spaces.
Totaling 236,084-square-feet, the scheme retreats from Kelly Drive and is orientated southward toward the Schuylkill River. A green wall will be located on this side of the building and is set to a host living art installation as per the Percent for Art Program.
After enjoying success at the CDR, plans will now go to the Zoning Board of Appeals and the City Planning Commission. Despite the praise offered, however, the CDR did make some suggestions.
Nancy Rogo Trainer, the committee chair, spoke out against the “monolithic” north-side elevation that looks onto Ridge Avenue. “It makes the building seem a little relentless. It would be terrific if there was some way of breaking up what could be a very monotonous building,” she said.
Other suggestions included integrating the ground level with more public spaces and varying the color scheme with the paneled facades.