Posts tagged with "Philadelphia":

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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.
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Andrea Blum’s sculptures make space in Philadelphia

Artist Andrea Blum's Plateau public sculpture has been moved by the University of Pennsylvania for the second time. The work was originally commissioned by Penn in cooperation with the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia in 2006 for an approximately 4,800-square-foot area on the edge of the university's Philadelphia campus. The work's steel and concrete pavilions created seating, tables, and light shelter for students and area residents until 2017 when the university decided to build a new dorm on the site and worked with the artist to redesign the sculpture for a new, smaller location. Then, in the fall of 2018, Penn dismantled and moved the work again, this time to a location 100 yards away from the previous site.
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Colored concrete and perforated fins keep this downtown school cool

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Completed in November 2017, the Perkins Eastman–designed School of Nursing and Science Building occupies a former parking lot in downtown Camden, establishing a new institutional heart for Rutgers University in the slowly reviving city. The design inhabits a formidable full-block mass, reaching a height of four stories with a multidimensional facade of high-performance concrete and glass curtainwall shaded by perforated panels.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kawneer, Taktl, Glazing Concepts
  • Architects Perkins Eastman, NELSON Architects (architect of record)
  • Facade Installer Glazing Concepts, Robert Ganter Contractors
  • Facade Consultants Atelier Ten
  • Location Camden, New Jersey
  • Date of Completion November 2017
  • System Kawneer 1600 with concrete panels and curtain wall window modules
  • Products Kawneer 1600 Wall System, TAKTL Architectural Ultra High Performance Concrete, Glazing Concepts window modules
Similar to other urban centers across the Rust Belt, Camden has undergone a significant period of economic stagnation and demographic decline since the mid-20th century. However, the continued expansion of healthcare institutions, such as the Nursing and Science Building, is fundamentally reshaping the city’s character. The project is located on a triangular site adjacent to Camden City Hall, and the residential neighborhood of Lanning Square. Owing to the irregularity of the site, each elevation of the 101,000-square-foot project is a different length. Rather than attempting to establish conformity across the Nursing and Science Building, Perkins Eastman’s design plays with each facade's unique dimensions. The southwest elevation features a hollowed-out frame filled by a three-story glass facade, while the northeast elevation recalls the more traditional masonry punched window style found around the area. For the rainscreen, Perkins Eastman turned to TAKTL, a design and manufacturing operation located in the Greater Pittsburgh Region, to produce rectangular high-performance concrete panels. To blend in with the prevailing use of stone ashlar and brick for historic buildings in downtown Camden, the concrete panels are colored reddish-brown and finished to resemble non-glazed terra-cotta. The panels, measuring one-by-three feet, are face-fastened with color-matched screws to the light-gauge structural steel stud framing. While the rainscreen serves as an oversized framing device, the bulk of the 110,000-square-foot project resides behind glass curtain wall. Sections of the curtain wall bulge from the assembly, providing room for a variety of functions within. “The facade is composed of two distinctive wall types,” said James Butterfield, RA, design Principal at Perkins Eastman. “One which employs a full-height, vertical perforated metal shading system, and a second which introduces opacified shadowbox panels to minimize the quantity of unshaded vision glass.” Each curtainwall module reaches a height of 30 feet and is anchored at the end of each concrete slab. Aluminum brackets project from the Kawneer-produced wall system and are fastened to the 1/4-inch-thick vertical perforated panels at four points. The overall goal of these devices is the mitigation of solar incidence and internal glare associated with typical large-scale curtain wall design.
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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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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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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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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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Philly is set to open new arts pier inside a century-old maritime warehouse this fall

Downtown Philadelphia will debut its newest cultural space this fall: an unlikely arts venue, marketplace, bar, and public park set inside a converted 99-year-old maritime warehouse. Cherry Street Pier, designed by Groundswell Design Group and Interface Studio Architects, will open on October 12 at Pier 9 along the Delaware River. The $5-million project will transform the 55,000-square-foot municipal structure into a mixed-use waterfront destination and studio facility for 14 local artists. Located south of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Race Street Pier, the long-neglected, 19th-century building has undergone major renovation work over the last year. The project, dreamed up by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), aims to introduce a new space for civic engagement as well as a collaborative home for the city’s visionary artists and entrepreneurs. The group announced Wednesday that the park will open ahead of the three-week arts celebration, Festival for the People, put on by the Philadelphia Contemporary. According to Philly Magazine, DRWC president Joe Forkin said that the Cherry Street Pier will serve as a foundation for the arts to flourish along the city’s waterfront. The historic building will house affordable studios and offices for emerging artists within repurposed shipping containers featuring glass walls. Community members and visitors to the dock can peer inside the studio spaces—dubbed the Garage— and watch the artists at work throughout the day. Tenants will be able to showcase their art in a 10,800-square-foot open space dedicated to large-scale art installations and performances. The site will also include room for a pop-up retail market, public events, and food vendors. A café and bar are being built for the open-air garden at the edge of the facility. The architects will peel back the roof of the warehouse in this section, exposing the steel trusses and stone masonry to reveal the historic structure’s core and unveil a unique perspective of the river. Wood benches, railings, plants, and trees will fill the space so people can relax and enjoy one another’s company.
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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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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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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.