Search results for "philadelphia"

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Here be Cephalopods

Tentacular evil emerges from the Philadelphia Navy Yard
Lo! The Old Ones are returning to this realm, dear reader. The mind cannot possibly comprehend the sinister forces at work, but unearthly beasts have been discovered in the crumbling ruins of Philadelphia’s Navy Yard. And no, it’s not Gritty. The multitudinously tentacled post-industrial people eater is, in fact, an inflatable installation—but still probably evil!—summoned by U.K.-based artists Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas, working with local art collective Group X and Navy Yard operators PIDC. The surprisingly detailed sculpture, titled Sea Monsters HERE, features 20 tentacles stretching up to 40 feet, transforming the warehouse into a nightmare factory just in time for Halloween. Luker and Estrellas describe their work as a “personal vendetta against the mundane confines of the city in a heroic effort to make the world a brighter, more surreal place for us all.” This isn’t the first time the inflation installation artists have activated architecture with beastly appendages, and it surely won’t be the last. Sea Monsters HERE is on view at Building 661 (13th Street & Flagship Ave) in the Philadelphia Navy Yard through November 16.
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Future Contemporary

Johnston Marklee selected to design permanent home for Philadelphia Contemporary
The Philadelphia Contemporary, which up till now has been an itinerant “curatorial institution,” bridging art, performance, and spoken word with various pop-ups and events around its namesake city, is getting a permanent physical home by Los Angeles firm Johnston Marklee. The firm, whose partners Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee artistic directed the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, have worked on a slew of cultural institutions as of late including the recent Menil Drawing Institute in Houston, which opens next week. Following on its nomadic beginnings, the new kunsthalle will be, as Lee puts it, “inextricably woven into the fabric of the city.” The Philadelphia Contemporary, sans building, has programmed cultural events across the city over the past two years, including an ASMR Film Festival, as part of its two week Festival for the People, an arts event that happened over the past two weekends and featured an impressive array of artists, performers, poets, and others from Philly and around the world, including Hito Steyerl, Andrea Bowers, and Lyrispect. The festival also featured selections from Creative Time’s Pledges of Allegiance, which is a series of 16 flags by a number of artists including Jayson Musson, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Tania Bruguera, and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Creative Time’s former chief curator, Nato Thompson, has been serving as the Philadelphia Contemporary’s artistic director.   Johnston Marklee was chosen after an extensive search by a 14-member jury comprising representatives from the Philadelphia Contemporary, as well as city officials, members of the arts, design, and literary community, and other local community members. Johnston Marklee will be working with local MGA Partners, the architect of record. The final building design is to be revealed in 2019.
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Stir It Up

Frank Gehry–designed restaurant opens at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The first element of Frank Gehry’s master plan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art is now open to the public. The new restaurant, Stir, is the only fine dining establishment on the East Coast designed by the architect and, surprisingly, the only space in the museum where his signature style will be apparent. Stir's cozy dining room seats just 76 people beneath a large sculpture of crisscrossing Douglas fir beams hanging from a ceiling of curving wood panels. Affectionally dubbed “the nest” and “chips” by the architect and museum staff, the sculptural ceiling is complemented by custom leather banquettes and granite tables designed by Gehry Partners. The warm, intimate space is enclosed by frosted glass walls and an open-air kitchen.  Guests can watch chefs prepare locally sourced seasonal dishes inspired by the museum’s new dining room, like roasted Griggstown chicken over a nest of braised green beans. “Every restaurant is about time and place,” said chef Mark Tropea, who created a menu that ensures the sense of place extends to the plates. Gehry also designed the adjacent cafe, a well-lit casual cafeteria space that can seat up to 160 guests. Organized around a central serving station, the cafe serves up views of the city along with surprisingly impressive made-to-order dishes. And yes, there are cheesesteaks—artisanal cheesesteaks. Stir is the first milestone on the long road to the renovation and expansion of the 1928 building, originally designed by a collaboration of architects including Paul Cret, the firm of Zantzinger, Borie, and Medary, and the firm of Horace Trumbauer, particularly Howell Lewis Shay and Julian Abele. The first phase of the renovation, The Core Project, will be completed in 2020. The stylistically subtle intervention will dramatically improve circulation and infrastructure with 90,000 square feet of new public space, including expanded galleries and tile-vaulted walkways. Although visitors will have to wait a little longer to enjoy the refreshed galleries, Stir is open now with refreshments and a glimpse of the museum's future.
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In-Cret-ible Design

Paul P. Cret, storied Philadelphia architect, highlighted in Athenaeum show
A number of local institutions are marking the 100th anniversary of Philadelphia's majestic boulevard, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, by celebrating one of its leading architects: Paul P. Cret. Under consideration since the Civil War, the development of the parkway occupied Philadelphia for the first third of the 20th century. Philadelphia and other American cities planning similar projects during the same period created the “city beautiful” movement, America’s first important contribution to urban design. In 1892 Philadelphia’s city council passed a bill to build what was then called the Fairmount Parkway, after Fairmount Park, the city’s 9,000-plus-acre green space. A parkway plan created in 1907 by Horace Trumbauer, Clarence Zantzinger, and Cret for the Fairmount Park Art Association envisioned “a direct, dignified and interesting approach from the heart of the business and administrative quarter of the city, through the region of educational activities grouped around Logan Square, to the artistic center to be developed around Fairmount Plaza, at the entrance” to the park. Parkway construction began in 1917, ten years after groundbreaking, and in November 1918, according to a local newspaper, an “uninterrupted parkway at last leads from City Hall to Fairmount’s entrance.”

Lyons, France-born Cret (1876-1945) moved to Philadelphia in 1903 to become a professor of design at the University of Pennsylvania and eventually the leader of Philadelphia’s city beautiful movement. He was in France when World War I broke out and served in the army for the next five years before returning to Philadelphia where he resumed his teaching at the University of Pennsylvania and engaged in his architectural practice. He designed bridges, such as the Delaware River Bridge in Philadelphia, as well as museums (the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, the Barnes Foundation Gallery in Merion, Pennsylvania, and the Detroit Institute of Arts) and the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and also worked on the architecture of campuses of the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, and the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, he was the consulting architect for the American Battle Monuments Commission from 1923 to 1945, whose mission was to design memorials, chapels, and cemeteries in honor of the dead of World War I.

Cret’s work is the centerpiece of an exhibition at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia called Professor Cret’s Parkway: One Architect’s Legacy on Philadelphia’s Grandest Thoroughfare. The show features over 30 built and unbuilt designs by Cret, many never before exhibited. The Rodin Museum, located on the parkway and designed by Cret, is simultaneously displaying a 1927 model of its building and gardens with photographs and related material exploring Cret’s design there. Both exhibitions are on display through August 31.

 In May the Athenaeum also conducted a symposium on Cret that considered his theory, work on the Rodin Museum, and engineering collaborations, among other subjects. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger delivered the keynote address, asking, “what does the city beautiful mean for the 21st century city?”

Also in May, the American Battle Monuments Commission inaugurated the new Chateau-Thierry American Monument Visitor Center on Hill 204, at a World War I monument designed by Cret overlooking the Marne River Valley. The monument, which was dedicated in 1937, commemorates the sacrifices and achievements of Americans and French people before and during the Aisne-Marne and Oise-Aisne offensives in 1918.

In 1922, the art collector Albert C. Barnes contracted Cret to design a gallery and residence in Merion, Pennsylvania. On display through September 30 at the Barnes Foundation, which moved from Merion to Benjamin Franklin Parkway in 2012, are selected letters between the two men, related photography, and Cret’s plans and sketches for the buildings that officially became the Barnes Foundation in 1925.
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Fine D(es)i(g)ning

Frank Gehry’s new restaurant, Stir, is set open at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Frank Gehry’s $196 million masterplan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art will reveal its first signs of life this fall with the opening of Stir, the famed cultural institution’s new restaurant and cafeteria that will open to the public in October. Operated by Starr Catering Group and led by Executive Chef Mark Tropea, Stir will offer museum-goers and guests a seasonal and locally-sourced menu inside a very Gehry, contemporary atmosphere. The design centers around a grid-like sculpture shaped out of Douglas fir slats and beams that extends from an undulating ceiling. The walls are also wrapped in Douglas fir panels while red oak covers the restaurant’s floors. Hints of frosted glass, felt, steel, leather, bronze, and onyx are also featured throughout the space, all coming together to create a warm and inviting setting. Gehry Partners will design the tables and chairs that will hold up to 76 people. In addition to Stir, the firm will reimagine a new, full-service cafeteria for the museum that will seat 160 people. The space will extend the entire width of the building and include windows offering views of the East Terrace and its garden as well as the Schuylkill River on the west side. It will have stations for salads, sandwiches, and brick oven pizza. The museum’s North Entrance, which will open at street level in early 2019, will house a new espresso bar in the Vaulted Walkway that will also be accessible to the public. There, visitors can enjoy views of the building’s facades through the skylights above in a space that’s been closed off since the mid-1970s. Gehry’s masterplan is part of the museum’s Core Project, a massive interior renovation of the neoclassical landmark built in 1928 which has long suffered from poor circulation and a lack of clear wayfinding. The redesign will add 67,000 square feet of new public space to the facility and an additional 23,000 square feet of gallery space, while also opening up the heart of the museum. Gehry will introduce a new central space, called the 'Forum', by removing the upper-level auditorium, thus heightening the ceiling and adding glass walls to create sightlines between The Great Stairs Hall and Lenfest Hall, the building’s grand lobbies that were previously completely disconnected.     Construction on the Core Project began early last year and is expected to wrap up in 2020.  Stir will be open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and will offer brunch on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.
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Brotherly Love?

Philadelphia passes affordable housing tax on new construction, but it may not last
Philadelphia’s City Council narrowly approved a tax on new construction projects last Thursday, in a 9-to-8 vote that may not stand up to mayoral scrutiny. The measure would bring in about $22 million a year for affordable housing, but trade unions and developers are arguing that the tax would slow the city's economic growth. The one percent tax on new construction and significant redevelopments is part of a sweeping package aimed at boosting the city’s affordable housing tools. In a move to capitalize on Philadelphia's meteoric building boom, the fee would apply to projects of any scope and be paid when filing a building permit. Funds from the new construction tax would go into a Housing Trust Fund, which non- and for-profit developers could tap for construction or closing costs. A zoning change was also included in the measure, which would allow developers to increase the height and density of their projects in exchange for making 10 percent of their rental and condo units affordable. Opting into the zoning bonus would not preclude developers from also paying the new tax. “Affordable” units, in this measure’s language, would be open to households who have lived in Philadelphia for at least three years, and who make less than a combined $105,000 a year; 120 percent of the city’s median income. Not everyone is on board, and building trade unions, developers, businesses, and some affordable housing advocates around Philadelphia have come out against the tax on new construction. In a letter to the City Council’s finance committee ahead of a vote earlier in the month, trade unions came out swinging against the tax, arguing that it would dissuade Amazon from picking the city for its second headquarters. On the other end, affordable and low-income housing advocates feel the $105,000 income cap is too generous, and that the city should do more to tighten the requirements. Of course, the tax’s passage is far from assured. Sources within the City Council have reportedly indicated that Mayor Jim Kenney is likely to veto the bill over the rising pushback in a move similar to Seattle’s recent head tax controversy. The veto would be the first of Kenney’s career, and would require 12 City Council votes to override–far from a sure thing, considering the slim margin that the bill originally passed with.
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You get a High Line, and You Get a High Line...

Philadelphia cuts the ribbon on its own “High Line” park
After years of planning and handwringing over fundraising, the first phase of Philadelphia’s own “High Line,” the transformation of the Reading Viaduct rail line, was opened to the public last Thursday. Although the Rail Park’s first spur is only a quarter mile long, the rail line will be twice as long and wide as New York’s High Line when fully built out. The first section of the linear park, located on the northern edge of Center City and designed by landscape architects Studio Bryan Hanes, reflects the neighborhood’s industrial past. Native plants and trees were planted on top of the viaduct’s steel arches, and remnants of the embedded rail track are woven throughout the zigzagging walkway. Riveted I-beams have been turned into seating, and structural steel beams are used to support the hanging benches. A timeline of the neighborhood and a historical list of the city’s industrial manufacturers have been cut into a weathered Cor-ten steel “history wall” that visitors can walk beside. Unlike New York’s High Line, the Rail Park is wide enough to include both dedicated bike trails and footpaths for pedestrians, creating new links to traditionally underserved neighborhoods when the three-mile-long park is complete. Construction on the $10.8 million elevated park was beset with delays. In planning since 2010, the project finally broke ground in October of 2016 after SEPTA, the site’s former owner, agreed to lease the rail spur to the nonprofit Center City District (CCD) during construction. Now that the section is finally open, ownership has been handed over to the City of Philadelphia, with maintenance and management split between the CCD, the nonprofit Friends of the Rail Park, and the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation. Funding for the Rail Park’s 25,000-square-foot first phase was raised in combination by the Friends of the Rail Park and through a $3.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant from the state government. According to the CCD, this section of the Rail Park will serve as a design proof-of-concept and fundraising tool for the rest of the viaduct’s development. No timeline or estimated construction dates have been given for the second and third phases.
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NUMTOT Art

An interactive fountain driven by train traffic is coming to Philadelphia’s Center City
Pulse, a snaking public art piece linked to the Dilworth Park fountain in Philadelphia, will soon be showing commuters what’s going on underneath their feet. The fountain sits in front of Philadelphia City Hall in Center City, and sculptor Janet Echelman will soon be realizing a light-and-mist installation that will track underground SEPTA trains in real time, thanks to a $325,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation. The project was originally commissioned in 2009 by the Center City District Foundation (CCD), and major pieces of its foundations were embedded in the surrounding plaza when the park’s fountain was built in 2014. Pulse, described as “a living X-ray of the city's circulatory system” by the artist, would create four-foot-tall walls of colored mist that track the trains passing below, specifically, the green, orange, and blue lines. Separate tracks of light embedded in the concrete would project into an atomized mist to create the kinetic effect. Echelman worked closely with the park’s architects, OLIN, to integrate Pulse’s infrastructure into the plaza redesign.' The $325,000 grant that the CCD announced last Monday will cover the construction of Pulse’s green section, which would follow SEPTA’s underground green line trolley. The installation of that phase will come to life this July, though the CCD is still seeking funding for the remaining orange and blue line tracks. The project was conceived as a tribute to Philadelphia’s first water pumping station, and Echelman was brought on board to design the piece back in 2010. However, the CCD has been trying to drum up the $4 million required to complete and maintain Pulse ever since it was announced (though a $20,000 National Endowment of the Arts grant awarded last year helped to get the ball rolling).
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Philly's Finest

A new Philadelphia Design District to debut this April
In 1991, Philadelphia's Old City Arts Association launched the First Fridays initiative to encourage visitors to explore the art galleries that made the historic neighborhood their home. A quarter-century later, the area has been completely transformed into one of the city's premier cultural hubs, and now there's yet another reason to head to the 'hood: the brand-new Philadelphia Design District (PDD). The new collective celebrates the independent design businesses—showrooms, workshops, galleries, and shops—in the area spanning from Second and Third Streets to Market and Race. The PDD will make its official debut this spring with a showcase curated by design studio Mona Rose Berman Interiors that will run from April 14 to 28 at the new LEED Gold–certified Bridge apartment building by Gluck+. The first of its kind in Philadelphia, a city with a rich history of manufacturing and design, the PDD unites 11 founding members, including Moderne Gallery, a city staple for art deco designs and the work of George Nakashima; Mode Modern, the city's go-to destination for midcentury modern designs; Wexler Gallery, which represents contemporary names like Gulla Jónsdóttir; the multidisciplinary art practice Biello Martin Studio; and more. More events will be scheduled in the future, but in the meantime, be sure to check out Philadelphia's newest design destination.
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Plane Talk

Philadelphia airport announces five finalists in landscape redesign competition
Last week, the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, in partnership with the Philadelphia International Airport, announced the five finalists selected to compete in the redesign of the 130-acre landscape surrounding the airport. The competition, announced at the beginning of June, asked landscape architects to conceive of an "Image Maker" landscape that leaves a memorable and lasting impression on the city's visitors. The landscape design would offer a chance to showcase Philadelphia as "America's Garden Capital," as well as create a more sustainable landscape for the major transportation hub. The finalists are: James Corner Field Operations Of High Line (New York City) and Navy Yards (Philadelphia) acclaim, James Corner Field Operations wrote that they intended to create a design "environmentally and horticulturally extraordinary, reflective of the diverse identity of the city, feasible, phase-able and achievable." OLIN The only Philadelphia-based firm of the selection, OLIN has previously designed Bryant Park, revamped the plaza at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, landscaped Grace Farms in rural Connecticut, and participated in many other high-profile projects. Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects This New York-based firm is known for their work on Edward W. Kane Park at the University of Pennsylvania, and have done extensive work throughout the New York metropolitan region, including the Governors Island Park and public space. The firm was also collaborating with Heatherwick Studio on the recently killed Pier 55 project. West 8 A Dutch firm with offices in New York and Belgium, West 8 is familiar with airport design, having done a similar revamp for Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport in 1992. Phyto Studio A niche firm from Arlington, Virginia, Phyto Studio aims to honor Philadelphia's "gutsy, gritty, and revolutionary spirit" in their design. They have completed small-scale projects for botanical gardens, residential properties, and public infrastructure across the country.

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Each team will receive a stipend of $20,000 to develop a plan and budget for the challenge. The final designs will be showcased at the Philadelphia Horticultural Society's annual Flower Show from March 3 – 11, 2018, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at 12th and Arch Streets in Philadelphia.  The winning design will then help to raise funds and take further steps in implementing the project.
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Off Center

Two Philadelphia architects discuss projects beyond Center City
As Philadelphia expands, architects and designers find themselves increasingly working on projects outside of Center City. This is both good and bad news for those in Philly's periphery, which has seen rising rents but also a growth in architectural variation as well. Two architects at Philadelphia-based firms: Scott Erdy, Principal of Erdy McHenry Architecture, and Eric Oskey, a Partner at Moto Designshop, are contributing projects outside of Center City at various scales.   Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), Scott Erdy spoke of Millennium Hall, a student residence and retail project that was completed in 2009. Here, the end walls of the building are glazed, while the other facades are highly textured, comprised of an array of curved panels which form a composite aluminum rain screen. [intersitial] Such facade projections are seldom seen on student halls where cost limits intricacy. However, Erdy explained that eliminating material waste persuaded the fabricator to go ahead with it. "The folds and side edges are directly related to the size of the raw material fabricated," he said. "We were able to convince NovingerGroup [the fabricators] that it would cost them no more to create than eight inches of relief in the facade as it would be it flat—so long as wasn't wasting any material." "It was a great learning experience for us," he added. "Engaging with the people doing the work for us results in high quality and good price." The relationship with the fabricator was aided by the fact that Erdy McHenry Architecture had worked with them before on another project, Race Street Residence Hall, which was built three years prior. Erdy also spoke about another facade project. At The Piazza at Schmidt’s, a housing complex between Poplar and Fishtown, the facade operates on numerous levels to facilitate views in and out of the building, as well as, according to Erdy, to engage outdoor space as a "social exercise." Erdy elaborated on how the facade came to be. "The skin is basically a window system that was modified with the sub-contractor (GMI)  to make it cost-effective," he said. "The gridded element of that building is a direct expression of the underlying structure." Also speaking to AN, Eric Oskey explained how Moto Designshop has been using layered screens at a residential scale. At the Walnut Estates, a residential complex finished last year, Oskey used a perforated brick wall to form a facade that is offset from the main structure. The white brickwork provided light and privacy to the luxury apartments behind the facade, but was also parted to allow substantial views to a swath of floor-to-ceiling windows. Oskey will be discussing this project and others in further detail at the upcoming Facades+ Conference in Philadelphia. Scott Erdy will also be present to elaborate on the two projects mentioned here, as well as EVO Tower (completed in 2014) and The Radian (completed in 2009). At their panel, "Philadelphia’s Design Trajectories: Growing Beyond Center City," Erdy and Oskey will be joined by Danielle DiLeo Kim, who will discuss how buildings can come together and activate the street level and how facades, as she describes, can act as "identity makers for cities." Facades+AM Philadelphia is being held at the National Museum of American Jewish History on September 25. More information on the conference can be found at am.facadesplus.com. Seating is limited.
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September 25

Matthew Krissel of KieranTimberlake Architects on the coming Facades+ AM Philadelphia
How are computational devices changing the way we approach design? Why is it essential to look at building envelopes as more than just an environmentally-focused skin? These are some of the questions that will be raised at the coming Facades+ AM conference in Philadelphia on September 25. Matthew Krissel, a partner at KieranTimberlake Architects, will be acting as co-chair throughout the conference. Krissel worked with The Architect's Newspaper (AN) on the program for each of the three panels due to take place. "There is a rich history of design here as well as a growing group of young and emerging design practices doing innovative work," Krissel told AN. "At KieranTimberlake Architects, we are seeking continuous improvement of not just what we design and make but also how and why." The first panel will look at how technology is changing the way architects work with facades. From both a performance and poetic perspective, computational design has meant that contemporary designers approach building skins differently. Krissel talked about "augmenting a rich tradition of design processes" and exploring new methods of design. "Beyond simply using computation for expedient production, we see it as a means to expanding the creative potential of the design team." "In panel two, we take on the WHY, expanding the definition of performance to include desire, poetics, and cultural identity [which] elevate the human experience in meaningful ways," said Krissel. The panel will also look at how facades can be both environmentally responsive (and responsible) but also contribute to the phenomenological experience of a building.  The final panel will address, in relation to the previous discussions, what is being done in Philadelphia, the city where KieranTimberlake Architects is based. Surveying Philly buildings of various scales, this discussion will touch on why the design community must see their individual projects as part of a larger urban collective where buildings give back more than they take from society.  "I wanted the conference to take on a similar trajectory and create a larger narrative about the transformative capacity of design and the built environment," Krissel added. "This conference is an opportunity to build that narrative that extends from process to outcomes and do it with a mix of established practices and emerging voices in design." Facades+AM Philadelphia is at the National Museum of American Jewish History September 25th. Information at am.facadesplus.com.