Posts tagged with "Philadelphia":

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Invisible City reveals Philly’s avant-garde side

In the novel Invisible Cities, written by Italo Calvino, we learn of fantastical cities of monumental silver domes, elevated cities of catwalks, and cities made of cities, where residents reinvent themselves with every move. All these cities are, in fact, Venice. In the exhibition Invisible City, cocurated by Sid Sachs, director of exhibitions at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts and Jennie Hirsh, assistant curator, professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at MICA, we learn of fanciful cities of roads lined with giant pretzels, cities where twisting towers rise above verdant parkways, and where anthropomorphic puzzle pieces search for connection. All these cities are, in fact, Philadelphia—visions of Philadelphia, anyway, as dreamt up and occasionally realized by avant-garde artists and architects at midcentury. Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde celebrates the City of Brotherly Love’s unique contributions to art and culture from 1956 to 1976, a time when “Philadelphia was fundamental to urban planning, popular music, post-minimalist sculptural installations, and postmodern architecture.” Featuring significant works from the era, the interdisciplinary exhibition spans four venues and an expansive website, with related talks, tours, and capital-H Happenings happening across the city throughout March. Although the architecture gallery at the Philadelphia Art Alliance will be of particular interest to AN readers, visitors would be remiss to skip past the other venues because Invisible City is best experienced as a whole. The show is an ambitious, sprawling, impressionistic portrait of a creative city at midcentury. It's beautiful and inspiring, but, like an impressionist portrait, hard to understand what you're seeing when you get too close. At the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, sculptures made from stacked brick, planks of wood, and repurposed lawn ornaments fill the space like a minimalist construction site. The artists on display were clearly influenced by their exposure to Marcel Duchamp’s work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In another venue, plastic paintings by James Harvard, which look like they were produced in an autobody shop, hang just a few feet away from collages of hypothetical highway roadsigns by Venturi and Rauch with Murphy Levy Wurman—including the aforementioned giant pretzels. It feels like there’s an affinity between these works: the Duchampian interest in the found objects: the Venturian embrace of the ordinary, and the shared interest in witty appropriation, but the show doesn’t make any explicit connection between disciplines or ideas. Things aren’t much clearer at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, where the architecture gallery is bookended by grand visions created for the Bicentennial by Venturi & Rauch and Mitchell/Giurgola. Between these monumental proposals are models, drawings, collages, and ephemera representing works that are more modest in scale, but not in concept: an original basswood model of Anne Tyng's 1971 Four-Poster Home; a model of Tyng and Louis Kahn's unbuilt geometric City Tower; hand-corrected pages from Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. It’s an impressive display of some of the best work ever produced by Philadelphia architects. Much of it is familiar. And if it’s not, you’ve got some work to do, because other than name, date, and medium, the exhibit provides no information for most of the work on display. Were these architects all talking to each other? Were they looking at local artists who were looking at Duchamp? Maybe! The highlight of the show, for me, was discovering some lesser-known talents, like David Slovic and the firm Friday. However, I had to conduct my own research to learn about Friday’s complex, contradictory, and delightfully democratic designs. For any context at all that, you have to go online. Thankfully, Invisible City's virtual venue, invisiblecity.uarts.edu, features an extensive chronology and interviews with many of the artists and cultural figures from the era. Whereas the minimal labels and works-behind-glass are cold and distant, the interviews are warm and often personal. Denise Scott Brown shares the story about their fight to preserve South Street, a historic black community that was going to be destroyed for a ring road. Richard Saul Wurman, creator of TED Talks, shares stories about his time as a designer in the offices of Louis Kahn, looking back on his professional experiences with a genuine sense of awe: “Lou changed my life. He taught me you could tell the truth. There were huge penalties...but it was worth it.” I enjoyed my trip through the Invisible City, despite leaving with more questions than answers: Why is Philadelphia a city where Pop Art and postmodernism germinated but never blossomed? Why is it a city that was home to architects who transformed the discipline, but whose contributions in their own town are surprisingly invisible? “It's the ultimate question about our city,” says Slovic in his interview. “Why isn't [Philadelphia] leading the way instead of following?” Why is it an invisible city? Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde runs until April 4, 2020. 
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Solo exhibition at ICA Philadelphia explores our link to monuments

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania has unveiled Karyn Olivier: Everything That’s Alive Moves, on view through May 10, 2020. The Philadelphia-based artist and sculptor Karyn Olivier has readied a series of works centered around her personal explorations of monuments and memorials. With a particular focus on scale, Olivier describes her work as a combination of larger-than-life scale and the minute, modest gesture. Conceived as a revision and expansion of Olivier’s previous project, Everything That’s Alive Moves places monuments into new contexts that pose questions about the larger concepts of citizenship and responsibility. The exhibition includes a large-scale obelisk sculpture, a fully-functioning carousel for one rider, and a car built from repurposed shoes. In one installation, a floor-to-ceiling brick wall at the center of a gallery is intended to catch the eye as a spectrum of bright colors emerge from it—the piece, Wall (2017-2018), uses clothing wedged between the bricks in place of mortar, and the fabric cascades out of the rigid wall. “We are thrilled to present the work of local artist Karyn Olivier. Olivier’s ability to connect with the community and people through her work is profound,” said John McInerney, interim director at ICA, in a statement to ArtDaily. “She adeptly shifts our experience of the familiar to reveal the malleable and unfixed nature of objects and spaces, enabling us to ponder meaning, honor the past, while creating new possibilities.” Olivier has planned and built several memorials and public commissions herself, most recently being tapped to oversee the Dinah Memorial at Stenton, also known as the James Logan Home, in Philadelphia. Olivier also drew from her recent year of study in Rome, where she closely analyzed the intersection of the city’s public works with its history. “Karyn's searching curiosity is brilliantly indefatigable. Her sculpture incisive, her formal care and emotional responses to space simply searing,” said Anthony Elms, chief curator at the ICA. “What's more is that still her art contains enormous amounts of joy for and delight in our world and the people who, through gestures big and small, recognized or unnoticed, endure and thrive for all our betterment.” Karyn Olivier: Everything That’s Alive Moves is on view through May 10 at ICA. Admission is free and the show will be accompanied by a fully illustrated monograph set to be released later this year.
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DIGSAU will break ground on Philadelphia's new Center for Ceramic Arts

On January 15, a new state-of-the-art ceramic facility designed by Philadelphia-based architecture firm DIGSAU will break ground for The Clay Studio, a nonprofit ceramics studio founded in 1974 that has serves approximately 35,000 members of the Philadelphia community annually. The organization will leave its location in a narrow 19th-century structure and move into the much larger, 32,000-square-foot building in the heart of the South Kensington neighborhood. “This is a defining moment," executive director Jennifer Martin told Artdaily, "and together we are making a big dream a reality.” DIGSAU's design is a reflection of lessons learned by The Clay Studio's interaction with the South Kensington neighborhood through the Claymobile, a mobile community engagement program that brings ceramics studios to schools, older adult facilities, community centers, and other social service agencies throughout the Philadelphia region. "Community is what began and sustained The Clay Studio for 45 years," said Martin, "and community is what will make our new building a home.” The new building, which will be 67 percent larger than the organization's former space, will include a rooftop garden, an outdoor pavilion, and a number of classrooms that are twice the size of those in the current building. Studios dedicated to local and visiting artists will also be generously-sized to accommodate technologically-advanced art-making equipment, and the new building will have the flexibility to host exhibitions, conferences, and other special events. The ground floor's interior will be visible from the street to promote a feeling of public accessibility, while the facade of the upper floor will modulate light with its variably-sized openings to produce the optimal conditions for ceramic production. The groundbreaking reflects the success of a $13.7 million capital campaign that includes an allocation of New Markets Tax Credits from Philadelphia’s Economic Development Corporation (PIDC), as well as an award from the Windgate Foundation and contributions from local donors. Making Place Matter, a major exhibition highlighting The Clay Studio's commitment to its network of artists and the Philadelphia community, will be held in the new building's main gallery space when completed in Spring 2021. The project will also be the first ground-up ceramics-oriented arts facility in the U.S.
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SOFTlab used complex computation to realize a colorful Philly installation

In West Philadelphia, SOFTlab has realized a six-pillar installation called Spectral Grove. The fanning canopy was realized with the help of three custom computational solutions. Made of powder-coated aluminum, the interlocking metal fins direct light and shadow throughout the day for an animated visual effect. Getting the angles of the canopy just right proved particularly challenging. SOFTlab used a Grasshopper plugin called Galapagos, which runs evolutionary algorithms to optimize the rotation of each pillar’s trunk, reducing the number of acute angles and very small segments. Optimizing the overhead lattice structure was not just a visual concern, either—the interlacing canopy provides the stiffness that holds the entire structure together. SOFTlab automated the design of the nearly 1,000 custom stainless steel brackets that hold the complex canopy together, which would have been nearly impossible to do accurately by hand, not to mention extremely time-consuming, according to founder Michael Szivos. While this is a process the firm has used on many projects, this was the first time that SOFTlab used it to develop parts that would wind up three dimensional after being folded from 2D shapes. Finding the precise shape of the brackets was a difficult procedure, according to Szivos. “The main issue with the bending of the steel brackets was calculating an acceptable tolerance,” he explained. “This was complicated by the interwoven canopy. Because all of the pieces in the canopy connected in an unordered way we couldn't add much tolerance to the bolt holes. If we added tolerance the pieces would eventually not line up because of the overall lack of precision in the connections.” This required some complex mathematics, and while their typical approach would be to model the angles and even everything out across them, the fact that there were so many brackets meant that rather than adding negligible elongation, it could’ve offset lengths by more than an inch. Using automation helped generate the unique brackets that hold the structure together. Even the non-structural elements took advantage of computation. To create the desired gradient effect while staying within budget constraints, SOFTlab created a custom program that created pairs of colors selected from a standard Drylac catalog, meaning that the illusion of using 100 custom colors could be realized with just 28 off-the-shelf shades.  SOFTlab is known for its high-tech approach, especially in regards to its other colorful installations like a glowing waterside ring in Virginia, and a kaleidoscopic pavilion in New York. Computational design has served other firms working to make elaborate metal installations look effortless, as well—earlier this year MARC FORNES / THEVERYMANY unveiled a sweeping aluminum pavilion created with the help of digital modeling in Texas.

For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit https://techplusexpo.com/events/la/

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Did Elizabeth Hirsh Fleisher build Philadelphia's modernist stone pavilion? The answer may save it from demolition

The city of Philadelphia is moving forward with plans to demolish the beloved modernist stone pavilion in Columbus Square, affectionately referred to as the 'Roundhouse' (not to be confused with the Philadelphia Police Headquarters at 8th and Race Streets, also colloquially known as the 'Roundhouse'). The building gained notoriety earlier this year when The Philadelphia Inquirer's Inga Saffron attributed the building's design to the late Elizabeth Hirsh Fleisher, the first woman architect in Philadelphia and one of the first in Pennsylvania. However, the Department of Parks and Recreation has expressed its doubt of Saffron’s claim, attributing the project to Fleisher’s partner Gabriel Roth instead. Some claim that the Roundhouse lacks historical significance without direct attachment to Fleisher, making it an easy target for demolition in the wake of a $2.8 million renovation of Columbus Square. In a recent article for her column in the Inquirer, Saffron bluntly addressed the following questions: “Who’s right? And why should it matter at this late date?” Regardless of the architect’s identity, Saffron claims that the structure, which has been vacant since the city opened a larger recreational facility in 2005, deserves another chance. The whimsical modernist roof and hefty stone walls make it a unique time capsule from a bygone era, drawing parallels to Eero Saarinen’s MIT Chapel, which has long been praised as a treasure of mid-century modernism. Since its completion in the 1960s, the Roundhouse served as an important center of community life for the surrounding neighborhood of Passyunk Square. Its single doorway opened into a small but inviting space in which park-goers could stop to rest, grab sporting equipment, and hold meetings. Even after years of vacancy, Passyunk Square residents have not forgotten the legacy of the Roundhouse; Philadelphia resident Jay Farrell launched a change.org petition to save the beloved pavilion, stating that “the Columbus Square Fleisher Pavilion is clearly a much-loved and familiar landmark in the Passyunk Square neighborhood of South Philadelphia and there is a strong desire among local residents to see it preserved and adaptively reused.” The petition has garnered over 2,500 signatures thus far. While the future of the building remains unclear, the story of the Roundhouse has sparked important conversations about the unsung contributions of women architects and how we determine the historical significance of buildings.
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PAU's JFK Towers will stagger over Philadelphia's Schuylkill Yards

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Philadelphia's Schuylkill Yards is undergoing a massive redevelopment by Brandywine Realty Estate that will bring half-a-dozen new buildings, totaling approximately six million square feet, into the center of the city. Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), is joining the fray with JFK Towers; a duo of cantilevering, offset mixed-use buildings clad in terra-cotta and aluminum. The project, which broke ground in November 2017 and is master-planned by SHoP Architects, follows a spate of railyard redevelopments around the country; ranging from the ongoing construction at Hudson Yards to the 244-acre revamp of Sacramento's former Union Pacific Railyards. In this instance, the redevelopment is located atop the former parking facilities at the adjacent 30th Street Station, rather than decking over the yards that neighbor the Schuylkill River.
  • Architect PAU HDR (Architect-of-Record)
  • Developer Brandywine Realty Trust
  • Structural Engineer LERA Consulting Structural Engineers
  • Location Philadelphia, PA
  • Date of Completion TBA
  • System Glass and aluminum curtainwall with terra-cotta base
As a tabula rasa, the architects enjoyed the opportunity of shaping an entirely new district that will be visibly prominent from most vantage points within Philadelphia—the east tower will reach a height of 512 feet and the west tower will stand at 360 feet—and will effectively bridge Center City to University City across the Schuykill River. "We generated the forms through the site geometry. Rail is adjacent on three sides which bifurcate the buildable area at different angles and heights informing the cantilevers and stacking," said PAU associate partner Mark Faulkner. "The breaking of our massing into low, mid, and high-rise blocks yields a playful stacking of volumes, efficiency for the complex mixed-used program, and a unique addition to the skyline that announces this important new neighborhood in the city." Although the planned towers of Schuykill Yards will dwarf surrounding structures in this corner of West Philadelphia, the design team has included several material choices that will tie the JFK towers to the city-at-large. Outside of Center City, Philadelphia is comprised of residences and small businesses rendered in often brownish-red low-rise brick and masonry. An additional influence can be found in the historic red metal coaches used by the defunct Pennslyvania Railroad headquartered in Philadelphia. The east tower of PAU's duo will appropriate this heritage with a red terra-cotta base for the vaulted arcade and a similarly-colored polychromatic paint coating over the aluminum cladding. The west tower will be subject to a similar material treatment but in a brownish-gray hue. The fenestration pattern that will rise from the arcaded base of the two towers will be a clear nod to commercial high modernism, with ribbons of windows divided by protruding vertically-oriented fins, and is a significant diversion from the predominantly all-glass towers otherwise rising throughout the city. PAU associate partner Mark Faulkner and Brandywine Realty Trust vice president Joseph Ritchie will be joining the panel "Schuylkill Yards First Facades: Architects’ and Developers’ POV" at the Architect's Newspaper's upcoming Facades+ Philadelphia conference on October 18.
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DIGSAU brings prefabricated concrete formwork to the Philadelphia Navy Yard

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The Philadelphia Navy Yard, similar to other waterfront areas across the country, is undergoing a two-decades-long transformation from a declining industrial district to a burgeoning office park. A significant number of businesses have located to the adaptively reused warehouses, while others are opting for entirely new construction. 351 Rouse Street, which is the U.S Headquarters of medical research laboratory Adaptimmune, is a recent addition to the area designed by architectural firm DIGSAU and clad in prefabricated concrete panels. DIGSAU, who are located a few miles north of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, are not unfamiliar with the site, having completed a similarly prefabricated concrete office building just down Rouse Street in 2015.
  • Facade Manufacturer Universal Concrete Centria YKK JE Berkowitz
  • Architect DIGSAU
  • Facade Installer Turner Construction EDA Hutts Glass Co.
  • Facade Consultant RDWI
  • Structural Engineer ENV
  • Location Philadelphia, PA
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Custom assembly
  • Products YKK YCW 750XT & 750SSG Guardian SunGuard AG 50 on clear, fabricated by JE Berkowitz Centria Silversmith Aluminum
Irregular sites require thoughtful and straightforward design and structural solutions; the project is located adjacent to an electrical substation, underground utility lines, and a nearby lot slated for future development. In response to this setting, DIGSAU developed a low-slung and, at certain moments, cantilevered massing for the nearly 50,000-square-foot structure. The overall character of the massing is extenuated by the horizontal impressions of the wood formwork. The light-gray surface is semi-reminiscent of a striated archeological section; the extruded and recessed finish alternates between rough and smooth grain and is broken up by ribbons of fenestration. The economy of the facade impression was significantly influenced by the budgetary and timeline constraints of the project, and the total tab for the project was an impressively tight $10 million. "The precast spandrel panels and ribbon windows are market-driven development approaches that have proven to be highly effective for controlling costs and speeding up construction timelines," said DIGSAU principal Mark Sanderson. "We were intrigued about how we might both embrace and deny these techniques simultaneously: the repetitive precast patterning is interrupted with vertical joints that increase in density where the ribbon windows are agitated." Installation of the panels had to be fairly straightforward to meet the tight timetable of the project. To this end, weld plates were cast into each facade unit which were then subsequently hoisted into place and welded to the steel frame. Once in place, the panels simultaneously function as both external cladding as well as support for the high climate-controlled YKK framing of the ribbon window. DIGSAU Associate Elizabeth Kahley will be joining the panel “Medium-sized and Mixed-use Projects: Opportunities for Creative Mix of Materials and Scale" at The Architect's Newspaper's upcoming Facades+ Philadelphia conference on October 18.
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Snøhetta's swooping Charles Library opens at Temple University

Snøhetta’s eleventh library has opened its doors for the fall semester at Temple University in Philadelphia. The new Charles Library is just one of many construction projects initiated by a $300 million dollar investment in the 2014 Visualize Temple campus master plan. The 220,000-square-foot, 4-story library boasts more than double the amount of space of its brutalist predecessor, Samuel Paley Library, which was designed in the 1960s by Nolen & Swinburne and will soon be renovated for the School of Public Health. Sited at the intersection of the campus’s major pedestrian pathways (Polett and Liacouras Walk) and one block over from the city’s major thoroughfare (Broad Street), the building acts as a new social and academic hub to not only the school but for the North Philly community at large.  Designed and developed in collaboration with Stantec, the building’s base is vertically clad in split-faced granite, a choice that references the campus’s surrounding context. A cedar-clad arched entrance is cut into the stone volume and welcomes visitors to the south side of the building. The swooping wooden arches continue past the glass facade and into the interior where they form a three-story domed atrium, which serves as a zone that's open 24/7 and offers workstations that are available to all Philadelphia residents. An oculus allows light to pour in from the top floor. To accommodate the growing student body of 39,000, the design needed to utilize the latest technologies while reinterpreting the traditional typology of a university research library. In the atrium, at the base of the steel-clad main staircase, is what students and staff lovingly call the “BookBot”—a fifty-seven-foot tall automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) for the library’s collection of over 1.5 million volumes. The BookBot drastically reduced the space needed for book storage (the system takes up just five percent of the total square footage) and thus enabled more areas to be developed for individual study, collaboration, and other academic resources such as digital fabrication, and writing and tutoring labs.  While the BookBot frees up shelf space throughout the library's four floors, the book itself hasn’t completely disappeared from sight. Roughly 200,000 volumes can still be accessed in the library’s browsable collection on the fourth floor. On this level, floor-to-ceiling glazing lets in ample sunlight for studying and offers a moment of respite and connection to nature as students can look out onto views of the building’s lushly planted green roof.  The 47,300 square-foot roof garden is one of the largest in Pennsylvania and covers over 70 percent of the building’s roof surface with over 15 different species of native flowers and grasses. Designed to meet Philadelphia Water Department guidelines, the roof is a key part of the site’s stormwater management system, which also includes two underground catchment basins that store and process nearly half a million gallons of water.  The library is already being filled with students socializing in the ground floor cafe, soaking up some sun in the stacks, and diligently working on their laptops anywhere there is an open seat. Given the notoriety of the firm, it is sure to draw attention from more than those cramming for tomorrow’s exam—the university is expecting over five million visitors to stop by the building annually.
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Artist David Hartt brings multimedia installation to a Frank Lloyd Wright synagogue

David Hartt will be the first artist to intervene in the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Beth Sholom Synagogue, located just outside of Philadelphia, when he installs his multimedia work into the National Historic Landmark this September. Using music, video, sculpture, and other materials, David Hartt: The Histories (Le Mancenillier) will interrogate the histories and presents of Black and Jewish diasporas in the United States and across the world. At the center of the exhibition is the 19th-century American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Born to a Jewish father and Creole mother, Gottschalk left his native New Orleans for Paris to study music at just age 13. Blending European classical musical training with American traditions and Afro-Caribbean song, Gottschalk’s hybrid music predated ragtime and jazz by over half a century, and though relatively little known now, is foundational to music history both in the Americas and globally. Hartt will be traveling to New Orleans and Haiti to capture video and photography in an attempt to understand the impact of Caribbean culture on the music of Gottschalk, who lived across the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Hartt will also be appropriating the visual styles of contemporaneous painters like Martin Johnson Heade, who painted tropical flowers and birds, to create large-scale landscape tapestries that will both change the space visually and acoustically. Video monitors will be set up like figures in the space, with content engaging the synagogue’s architectural peculiarities, and tropical plants will be put into extant planters while orchids will be arranged to capture the leaking rainwater that now filters through the 60-year-old glass-topped sanctuary. It is fitting, then, that the parenthetical part of the title, names a tropical plant—the manchineel tree, nearly every part of which is toxic to humans (the "Histories" portion of the title is after the work of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus). “David’s poetic approach to the built environment reframes familiar ideas about site, history, and identity,” explained Cole Akers, the curator of the exhibition. “His installation in Beth Sholom's Frank Lloyd Wright–designed building will offer unexpected ways to experience the National Historic Landmark and reflect on the site's capacity to hold a generous, porous, and speculative concept of community.” Ethiopian pianist Girma Yifrashewa—who, like Gottschalk, trained in Europe and blends multiple global sonic traditions—will be scoring the exhibition with compositions by Gottschalk that will be played throughout in order to, according to a release from the synagogue's preservation foundation, “transform the space and invite audiences to linger in the immersive environment.” There will be additional musical performances by other artists throughout the exhibition’s run. Hartt's installation will be up from September 11 to December 19, 2019.
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Populous reveals the Western Hemisphere's largest esports arena in Philadelphia

A $50 million, esports arena is coming to the South Philadelphia Sports Complex courtesy of designers Populous, Comcast Spectacor (Comcast’s sports and entertainment division), and developer The Cordish Companies. Once complete, the geometric Fusion Arena will hold up to 3,500 seats and will be the largest esports venue in the Western Hemisphere. Fusion Arena certainly isn’t the first competitive videogame venue in the country (before this, Populous’s Esports Stadium Arlington in Texas was the largest in the U.S.), and it likely won’t be the last thanks to the meteoric popularity of esports in recent years. The difference with this project is that the ground-up esports arena will house a Philadelphia Fusion esports franchise, similar to the professional-team-and-home-field-stadium model seen in traditional sports. Philadelphia's new Fusion Arena from Architect's Newspaper on Vimeo. For the arena’s exterior, Populous took a cue from the angular, high-contrast world of gaming hardware and peripherals. The building’s vertically-striated black facade wraps several colorful overhangs and is reminiscent of a kitted-out gaming mouse in form. Industrial materials were used both inside and out in reference to Philadelphia’s manufacturing history. Other than the stadium seating, the building will hold a 10,000-square-foot training facility for players to practice in, as well as a broadcast studio for livestreaming, and team offices. A 6,000-square-foot, 30-foot-tall entrance hall will greet visitors. When not in use for competitive gaming, it’s expected that the arena will be used to host year-round live events. Fusion Arena is expected to break ground sometime this summer.
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Maintaining the footprint of female architects in Philadelphia

Architect Elizabeth Hirsh Fleisher designed a dynamic, midcentury modern pavilion in South Philadelphia that’s now under threat of demolition as the city gets ready to renovate the surrounding park. Inga Saffron, the architecture critic of the Philadelphia Inquirer, called out the building’s potential destruction last week in an article about its importance in the city’s cultural preservation landscape. She noted the pavilion’s likeness to the LOVE Park Welcome Center, the beloved “flying saucer” that’s currently under restoration with plans to become a restaurant this spring. Both circular structures were opened in 1960, Saffron noted, along with a wave of round buildings that shaped the country’s design style of that decade. Though the small pavilion doesn’t sit directly in downtown Philadephia (it’s in Columbus Square) and wasn’t the most iconic building in Hirsh Fleisher’s portfolio, it’s still a symbol of her enduring legacy in a place that’s overwhelmingly built by men.  From Anne Tyng to Harriet Pattison, Georgina Pope Yeatman, Denise Scott Brown, and Minerva Parker Nichols, the list of female architects in Philadelphia isn’t very long, but the projects they backed in the city are memorable. At the helm of some of the city’s most impressive 20th-century projects was Hirsh Fleisher, Philadelphia’s first female licensed architect. She was responsible for the Parkway House, a postwar luxury apartment complex that she designed with her partner, Gabriel Roth, in 1953. Situated alongside Century Park near the Rodin Museum, the 14-story megaproject features a distinct mountain shape. It’s been there so long it’s nearly synonymous with that area of downtown Philadelphia. Though the Columbus Square pavilion is minuscule in comparison to Parkway House, Saffron argued the 35-foot-wide park structure could live a second life as a yoga studio or café. The city plans to remove it and expand the adjacent dog park in its place. What’s just as pressing as the little building’s demolition is the fact it could potentially be the second project by Hirsh Fleisher to see the wrecking ball. In 2014, her Queen Lane Apartments, a post-war public housing project, was demolished by the Philadelphia Housing Authority to make way for a series of low-lying affordable housing units. That building started suffering serious structural problems only decades after its completion, but the Columbus Square pavilion is forcefully sound; it’s largely built from stone. In a time where projects by prominent female architects are more appreciated than ever, there’s much attention being paid to those that are being taken down by redevelopment and in some cases, capitalism. Last month, JP Morgan Chase filed for the demolition of its headquarters in New York, the Natalie Griffin de Blois–designed Union Carbide Building. The site, 270 Park Avenue, will feature a replacement structure by Foster + Partners Bringing down Griffin de Blois’s 52-story Manhattan tower—whether you believe it should live on or not—distinctly diminishes the already-small footprint that female architects made on New York during the 1900s. Getting rid of Hirsh Fleisher’s tiny building would do the same in Philadelphia. Luckily, today there is a slew of women-powered practices that are following in her footsteps, such as OLIN, the landscape studio, as well as KSS Architects, a multidisciplinary firm also based out of Princeton, New Jersey. While many Philadelphia firms have significantly more men in leadership positions compared to women, the women are there. Award-winning practice Interface Studio Architects (ISA), along with DIGSAU, EwingCole, and KieranTimberlake have women in top-ranking positions or more women than men on staff.
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Self-taught artist carefully recreates Philadelphia's notable buildings

The New York Outsider Art Fair, which displays "Self-Taught Art, Art Brut, and Outsider Art," will bring Kambel Smith's hand-made sculptures to the public for the first time. Smith, a self-taught artist, has carefully created models of major buildings of Philadelphia. The models, while highly detailed, are made from cardboard and other materials salvaged from the trash. Many of them are large, carefully constructed objects in their own right. According to the Outsider Art Fair, "[t]hese large-scale works now require more than half the family's home in Germantown, Pennsylvania, to store." The 27th New York Outsider Art Fair will take place January 17-20 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City.