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.
Posts tagged with "Erdy McHenry Architecture":
In West Philadelphia, a team of developers, planners, and architects are asking one of urbanists' favorite questions: How can a mega-development be made to feel like a neighborhood, and not a bland corporate campus plopped in the middle of the city? Lead developers Wexford Science + Technology and the University City Science Center are spearheading the from-scratch transformation of a former superblock into a sort of mini city within a city. The developers' suggested new name for University City, uCitySquare, is bland, The Philadelphia Inquirer's Inga Saffron contends, though the master plans may not be. Ayers Saint Gross took the lead on the plan, with Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang as a contributor. It appears that the project is riding the same trends that developers used to remake Philly's 12th and Market area into a successful mixed-use district. The uCitySquare master plan would break the 14-acre site into four pieces by restoring 37th and Cuthbert streets, demapped in the urban renewal that transformed the once-dense neighborhood of row houses into growth space for the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel. It suggests moving 37th Street east of its original location, to make traffic and pedestrian flow smoother along the north-south access between Penn and the residential neighborhood of Powelton Village. Stubby Cuthbert Street would be extended east-west, linking Presbyterian Hospital to the Drexel campus. So far, the uses of two of the four parcels have been set. Drexel commissioned Rogers Partners to build an elementary and a middle school. Project start dates are contingent on budget negotiations with the city's school district. The first buildings are sprouting. ZGF Architects' 3675 Market will break ground this spring. The bulky glass cube's main tenant is the Cambridge Innovation Center. The Baltimore-based firm is doing a second building at 37th and Warren with solar panels embedded into the facade. Erdy McHenry will design a mid-rise apartment building with ground-floor retail on Lancaster Avenue that breaks ground this summer. The developers are committed to making common spaces not boring. The University City Science Center says that there will be a supermarket, wide sidewalks, and underground parking to minimize street space devoted to cars. The master plan calls for Philadelphia-based OLIN to design a public park at the center of the site. So far, these are good promises that are tempered by the science center's present foray into urbanism: folding chairs and brick pavers along a pedestrian-only stretch of 37th Street that will connect to uCitySquare is intensely uninviting.
[ Editor's Note: The following is a reader-submitted response to a recent feature article, "City of Designerly Love." It appeared as a letter to the editor in a recent print edition, AN03_03.05.2014. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. ] As president of Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, I was pleased to see William Menking review our city’s innovative architectural scene (“City of Designerly Love,” AN 14_12.04.2013). Yet I was surprised to see my community dismissed as the “troubled surrounding neighborhood” of the Piazza, a large mixed-use development anchored by a central plaza. The Piazza can feel disconnected from the rest of the neighborhood, as Menking says. But Northern Liberties is not troubled: It’s Philadelphia’s fastest-growing community, with a 60 percent rise in population over the last decade. Multi-unit construction, industrial conversions, and infill development are everywhere, as are new restaurants and bars, entertainment venues, retail and service businesses, and professional offices. This is no mere civic boosterism. Northern Liberties has problems, but they are problems of gentrification, not underdevelopment: decreased affordability, increased traffic, high commercial turnover, and pressures on demographic diversity and community fabric. Menking is right to say the city needs to upgrade neighborhood infrastructure—but not to spur redevelopment. That ship has sailed. We need better city supports to accommodate the new density of active uses, restore access to affordable housing, and reserve property for public needs. As an urbanist and frequent visitor to New York, I understand Northern Liberties might look rough around the edges compared to many redeveloped Manhattan and Brooklyn communities. But if we want to shape the future of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, we must assess their present accurately. Matt Ruben President Northern Liberties Neighbors Association