The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is planning an extensive expansion of its facilities. On May 7, at The Philadelphia School, representatives from Cooper, Robertson & Partners—the New York–based architecture firm selected to design the hospital—revealed renderings to community members regarding the world's oldest and largest children's hospital. Along with the construction of modern facilities, highlights include innovative stormwater management solutions and an open campus with extensive green spaces. The project consists of a large existing facility below the South Street Bridge on nine acres of land. The new buildings will be positioned with their long sides perpendicular to the river in an effort to minimize their presence, thus offering extensive waterfront views throughout the grounds. Open spaces will include a green plaza on South Street and a promenade that offers various ways to enter the new buildings. The Schuylkill River Trail will be extended to Christian Street and will emphasize a natural environment with large trees and supplemental shady areas. On the banks of the Schuylkill River, the hospital will be a model for stormwater management facilities. The stormwater concepts for CHOP involve rain gardens for surface run-off and a cistern for roof run-off reuse. Collecting stormwater and filtering it into the adjacent river will protect the facility and surrounding area from possible flooding and erosion. Phase One Development will culminate by mid-2017 with a total gross development area of 743,000 square feet, of which 546,000 (approximately twenty-three stories) are dedicated solely to office based research. The site will also incorporate interim commercial space in addition to parking and loading space. Plans were initially presented last year and final designs will be confirmed in the next few months. With CHOP’s current collaboration and coordination with the district, plans are expected to progress promptly and have the community saying, "chop, chop." [Via Curbed.]
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A few years ago Drexel University embarked on an ambitious plan to convert one of Philadelphia’s iconic postmodern landmarks by Venturi Scott Brown Associates (VSBA) into a new home for the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. Tonight the University will celebrate the official opening of its new building, dubbed the URBN Center, with a series of performances and demonstrations to showcase student work. Minneapolis-based Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle (MS&R) led the renovation of VSBA’s 3501 Market Street, formally the Institute of Scientific Information, and the adjacent building at 3401 Filbert Street (designed by Bower, Lewis & Thrower). Pritzker-winner Robert Venturi and his wife and partner, Denise Scott Brown, famously called their buildings “decorated sheds,” a phrase intended to reflect a design philosophy that spaces should adapt to a variety of uses—hence, making Drexel's decision to overhaul the interior of 3501 Market in keeping with the architecture duo’s original intent for the building. MS&R re-imagined the vast blank floor plan, but the firm was careful not to meddle with Venturi’s colorful mosaic facade. The firm radically changed the 140,000-square-foot facility—creating a dynamic maze of stairways and beams that spill into a number of different work spaces that house a music recording studio, a video game design lab, a printing studio, and a television broadcast production facility. Richard A. Hayne, a member of the board of trustees and the CEO of the Philadelphia-based brand Urban Outfitters, donated $25 million to Drexel to buy the building. The university raised the remaining $47 million to fund construction costs.
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), the agency overseeing the redevelopment of Philadelphia's Delaware River waterfront, has hired San Francisco-based Hargreaves Associates to redesign the ailing riverfront. Among the challenges the landscape architects will face is reconnecting the new park space with the surrounding city. Currently, the waterfront is disconnected by the large Interstate 95 and Columbus Boulevard, an expanse that can reach up to 1,200 feet wide, according to Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron. Hargreaves has won accolades for handling waterfronts and highways in Louisville, KY and Chattanooga, TN. According to Saffron, Hargreaves will study creating better connections between Market and South streets, but the DRWC has not asked for a study of burying or removing the highway, as local advocates had hoped. Hargreaves will examine improving pedestrian access at existing key points. Hargreaves principal Mary Margaret Jones told Saffron, that among the strategies she is pursuing is an extension to an existing highway cap with terraces outdoor rooms leading to Penn's Landing along the river, a new public space that would be the size of Rittenhouse Square. PlanPhilly reported that Jones is expected to be on the groung in Philadelphia this May to study the site's complex connectivity issues and elevation changes to better understand how a new waterfront could be engineered. Hargreaves' study is expected to take six to eight months and forthcoming concept plans will be later refined into designs that could feasibly be built. Joining Hargreaves' team are New York-based architects FXFOWLE, Guy Nordenson and Associates, KS Engineers, HR&A, RBA Group, Becker & Frondorf.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Southern Philadelphia High School has teamed up with Roofmeadow, a Philly-based green roof design and engineering firm, and the Lower Moyamensing Civic Association to bring the city its first rooftop farm in a new campus-wide plan to take the school from gray to green. The plan includes rain gardens, street trees, vegetable gardens, and a rooftop farm. These elements will be incorporated into a new curriculum for the school’s culinary and science departments, providing students with a chance to escape the classroom and engage in hands-on learning, while nearby residents will gain access to fresh produce and new green space. “South Philly High is on the cutting edge of sustainability and innovation,” said Kim Massare, President of the Lower Moyamensing Civic Association in a statement to greenroofs.com. “It is changing the way we think about what a school should be and using technology to drive change in a totally new direction.” The school is working with Roofmeadow and community representatives to develop the master plan, which targets large, underutilized properties on the school’s urban campus. The project will be crowdfunded through Projexity, an online platform that provides the support and framework for bottom-up neighborhood development projects, from creating proposals, to gathering funding, holding design competitions and getting the final approval necessary to move forward. The first of five stages of fundraising begins here on April 9th.
The Philadelphia Zoo, squeezed between heavily trafficked arteries in Fairmount Park, isn’t the easiest place to access by rail service, and with a dip in attendance in the last few years, Zoo officials are pushing for a new SEPTA train station at 34th Street and Mantua Avenue. When the zoo first opened in 1854, there was a train station located right at the entrance, but it closed in 1902 when the Pennsylvania railroad expanded, complicating the public transit options. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that architect Robert P. Thomas, along with other city planners, have put together a new rail feasibility study for the zoo. The $60 million project would entail building rail platforms, relocating tracks, and completing some environmental work. SEPTA officials have already indicated that they would not be able to provide any funding for this project, which means that the Zoo would need to look to the federal government for support. Beyond expanding rail service, the Zoo is opening a new 683-space parking garage this week. This is one of several measures that Zoo officials are taking to mitigate congestion and to make the zoo more accessible to visitors in addition to implementing new traffic signals and pedestrian crossways.
It has been a rough few months for modernist civic buildings. First, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks denied Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital landmark status, and then came the demolition of Richard Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama, and now the future of The Roundhouse, Philadelphia’s Police Headquarters, hangs in the balance. Last week, during his budget address, Mayor Nutter brought to light the city’s plan to renovate the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Building at 4601 Market Street and turn it into the new police headquarters (to be shared with the City Morgue and the Health Center). Nutter said that the move would mean selling the Roundhouse, along with several other municipal buildings. PlanPhilly reported that the city would pay for the renovation of 4601 Market Street with long-term borrowing, but the costs of the project “would be offset by the sale of the three would-be surplus municipal properties.” The Roundhouse—designed by architectural firm, Geddes, Brecher, Qualls, and Cunningham (GBQC)—is constructed of structural pre-cast panels and was awarded the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal Award for Best Philadelphia Architecture in 1963. Right now, graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Historic Preservation Graduate Program have teamed up with Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture to come up with different reuse strategies for the Roundhouse. Two graduate students at UPenn, Kimber VanSant and Allee Berger, have launched a campaign, Save the Roundhouse, on Facebook. VanSant and Berger point out that in the Philadelphia City Planning Commission’s “In Progress” Philadelphia 2035 plan for the Franklin Square Neighborhood, the Roundhouse is labeled as “Likely for Redevelopment” or referred to as “Police HQ lot,” which indicates that the Roundhouse building might not factor into the overall redevelopment of the area. Berger and VanSant plan on pursuing landmark status for the building, but fear that with a backlog of nominations waiting for approval at the Philadelphia Historical Commission, time might run out before the city’s development gets underway. The two preservationists are also concerned that city officials have misrepresented the condition of the building. “Through the campaign, we’re trying to make it clear that the building is in excellent shape and a great candidate for reuse,” said VanSant. VanSant and Berger said that the next steps will be centered around public engagement, speaking with developers, and eventually forming a coalition with local preservation and modernism groups. “This building is a physical vestige of when Philly was really going through some transformative changes in the late 1960s. There were a lot of urban renewal campaigns going on at the time. It was a very pivotal time for the city,” said Berger. “The building is a tour de force of architectural engineering.”
The Philadelphia City Council will consider several bills aimed at transforming thousands of vacant parcels into development districts, or a land bank. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the city spends an estimated $20 million on keeping up these tax-delinquent parcels. Council President Darrell L. Clarke will propose that the city create development districts on vacant, publicly owned land. The city would provide a number of incentives to entice developers to build on these properties, such as discounts, expedited permitting, and easy re-zoning. The city is also looking at establishing a land bank within the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation to take over these properties and then sell them at low prices.
On Friday, three winners of the Infill Philadelphia: Soak It Up! design competition were announced following deliberation by a jury of sustainable stormwater infrastructure industry insiders at Drexel University on Thursday. Created by the Philadelphia Water Department, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Community Design Collaborative, the competition called for creative and sustainable solutions for Philadelphia’s stormwater management. Architects, landscape architects, engineers, and other professionals formed 28 teams to provide innovative means for urban infrastructure to transform the city. From nine finalists, three winners were selected, each responding to a different urban context (industrial, commercial, and neighborhood) and cashing in on the $10,000 prize. Winner, Neighborhood - Greening the Grid Meeting Green (Pictured at top) Team Members: OLIN, Philadelphia, PA Gilmore & Associates, New Britain, PA International Consultants, Philadelphia, PA MM Partners, Philadelphia, PA Penn Praxis SMP Architects, Philadelphia, PA Winner, Commercial - Retail Retrofit Stormwater reStore Team Members: Urban Engineers, Philadelphia, PA Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, New York, NY Spiezle Architectural Group, Trenton, NJ Winner, Industrial - Warehouse Watershed Leveraging Water + Plants in Zero Lot Sites Team Members: Roofmeadow, Philadelphia, PA In Posse - A Subsidiary of AKF, Philadelphia, PA m2 Architecture, Philadelphia, PA Meliora Environmental Design, Phoenixville, PA SED Design, Blue Bell, PA Sere, Spring Mills, PA
A new affordable housing project designed by Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) is in the works for Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender (LGBT) seniors in the City of Brotherly Love—it will be the second of its kind in the nation. Hidden Philadelphia reported that construction on this 56-unit complex, called the John C. Anderson Apartments, has already commenced and will be located on 13th Street right in the heart of the Washington Square West neighborhood, a part of Philadelphia that has long been home to a gay and lesbian community. The development is named after city councilman John C. Anderson who was "instrumental in the passage of Philadelphia’s civil rights bill for sexual minority people." Developer Pennrose Properties, along with Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund and Gay News publisher Mark Segal, have spearheaded this $19.5 million development. The project will provide housing for low-income seniors 62 years or older. The six-story building will consist of one-bedroom units, 1,800-square-feet of commercial space, a green courtyard, and a partial green roof.
The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe, entering its 17th year of performances, will celebrate the groundbreaking of its new 10,000-square-foot headquarters on February 25th. The arts organization has purchased a former fire hydrant pumping station, built over a century ago, right near the Old City and the Delaware River waterfront. Partner Antonio Fiol-Silva of landscape architecture firm WRT (formerly Wallace Roberts Todd), will lead the renovation. The new headquarters will include a 225-seat theater, a rehearsal studio, a gastro-pub style restaurant, an outdoor plaza for performances and outdoor dining, administrative offices, and a permanent festival hub.
West Market Street, a once seedy part of Philadelphia, is set to undergo a transformation in the near future. PlanPhilly reported that the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) released a new report that recommends creating mixed-use developments centered around transit stops. A few of the projects slated for the West Market Corridor include a transit-related development called New West, a building for police administration and other city services, and a redevelopment of a large parking lot. While the plans call for mixed-use, housing will play a lesser part in the development since population is decreasing, which “makes demand for housing pretty tough” said Planning Commission Chairman and Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger. To move this plan forward, PCPC will need to revise zoning maps, work with property owners in the area, and look into a tax credit program.
Craft Spoken Here Philadelphia Museum of Art 26th St. and Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. Philadelphia, PA Through August 12 Since it was founded in 1876, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has collected and exhibited crafts; the collection today includes 20th- and 21st-century works from across the globe. With Craft Spoken Here, the Museum presents the medium of crafting as a common language of technique, material, and form that defies cultural boundaries and historical categorization. Drawing from the museum’s collection as well as works on loan from artists and private collections, the exhibition will include some 40 works by acclaimed and lesser-known craftsman alike, with contemporary pieces from 1960 to the present, including The One, 1985 by Rebecca Medel (above). Representing the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe with works in ceramic, glass, metal, wood, lacquer, paper, and fiber, the works on display show the breadth of the medium and highlight the qualities of craft that transcend culture and time.