Posts tagged with "Philadelphia":

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A new future for Old City: Vision2026 puts Philadelphians, not tourists, first

At first pass, Philadelphia's Elfreth's Alley looks like any other quaint, well-preserved historic street in a typical northeastern U.S. city. Look closer, though, and it'd apparent that the rowhouses are much older than the 19th-century homes found in New York's West Village or Boston's Beacon Hill. That's because Elfreth's Alley welcomed its first residents in 1702: the block-long lane is the oldest continually occupied residential street in the United States. Although the street is afforded protection by its National Historic Landmark status, escalatingultra-bland development in Philly's historic core means that it, and the surrounding urban fabric, must protect their assets by conceiving of a future that balances site-sensitive private development with public amenities that cater to Philadelphians.
Old City District, a city-sponsored historic preservation group, commissioned planning consultants RBA Group and Philly–based Atkin Olshin Schade Architects to stake out a future for Old City. Vision2026 is intended to complement the City Planning Commission's Philadelphia2035 plan and, in a nod to local heritage, will coincide with the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
To some, Old City is thought to be bound by the Delaware River to the east, 4th Street to the west, Vine Street to the north, and Walnut Street to the south. The Old City District's definition is narrower, encompassing a 22-block area bounded by Front Street to the east, 6th Street to the west, Florist Street to the north, and Walnut and Dock streets to the south. The genesis of Vision2026 was a community discussion on development goals that began in January 2015. Traffic studies and user surveys evinced a desire for standard-issue urban features: Quality public space, public transportation access, better bike infrastructure, stores that serve the community's needs (especially a grocery store), and a development vision that encourages new investment without overriding the neighborhood's charm. The suggestions take a deep dive into specifics. To reduce car traffic, Vision2026 suggests improving bike infrastructure (addressing a lack of bike lanes and inconsistent linkage to the waterfront, for example) concurrently with initiatives to consolidate commercial package delivery, privilege commercial loading access over private parking, and promote the use of car shares. The population of Old City has grown 16 percent since 2000, and the area needs Complete Streets (streets designed for safe use by pedestrians, cars, and bicycles alike) to enhance the neighborhood's vitality. A proposal for a 2nd Street Station plaza (the 200 block of Market Street) envisions 14-foot sidewalks flanked by an allée-meets-bike lane. The proposal suggests eliminating street lights—a counterintuitive but effective traffic-calming measure—on the 10-foot-wide stretch of road set aside for private cars.
Although the vacancy rate hovers at around ten percent, studies show that, if current trends continue, the area could support an additional 122,000 square feet of retail. More than 1,000 new residential buildings in the district are proposed or currently under construction. Vision2026 echoes Robert Venturi's 1976 master plan for Old City, calling for redevelopment of the area's Victorian commercial and industrial buildings erected between 1840 and 1890. Eight parks, including the Venturi–designed Welcome Park, are highlighted as spaces to improve and capitalize upon. Activating underused areas around the Benjamin Franklin Bridge is a priority: Proposals include an under-the-overpass market (like New York's Queensboro Bridge, but hopefully more successful) with restaurants and vendors, as well as wayfinding improvements, especially at night, to enhance connectivity between neighborhoods rent by the interstate. Next steps include beta-testing the ideas via tactical urbanism, temporary bike lanes, and legislative action, through zoning and permitting amendments, to pave the way for concrete improvements.
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The National Park Service releases guide to the cultural landscapes of Philadelphia

To most, the words "National Park" provokes images of Yellowstone and Yosemite. The National Park Service (NPS) would like to broaden that image to include historic sites and notable open spaces within U.S. cities. To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the NPS has partnered with the Washington, D.C.–based The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) to release a new guide to the historic and notable open spaces in Philadelphia. The project is spearheaded by the Urban Agenda, an initiative within the NPS to make parks accessible and relevant to city dwellers. In addition to highlighting parks, plazas, and gardens, the online What’s Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide has entries for the neighborhoods, museums, homes, schools, and houses of worship that make Philadelphia Philadelphia. The city's book features over 50 significant sites, which users can filter by type, theme, style, or designer. Each entry has images and a written description of the site design and history. Among many luminaries, the guide highlights the contributions of nineteenth century garden cemetery designer Philip M. Price, Thomas Holme, inventor of the Philadelphia Plan; and I.M. Pei, Louis Kahn, Robert Venturi, and Denise Scott Brown, 20th century architects who have contributed to Philadelphia's built environment. The guides build on TCLF's What's Out There database, which contains over 1,900 sites in the U.S. and Canada. Besides National Parks, the guide has information on National Historic Landmarks, National Natural Landmarks, National Heritage Areas, Land and Water Conservation Fund Sites, and National Register of Historic Places landscapes. TCLF already has non-NPS affiliated guides for Chicago, Denver, D.C., and Toronto, and over the next 18 months, the NPS and TCLF will release guides for Boston, New York, and Richmond, Virginia, Next City reports.
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SHoP and West 8 reveal plans for Philadelphia “Innovation Neighbrhood” at Drexel University

Fourteen acres next to Philadelphia’s 30th Street train station will be transformed into a $3.5 billion “innovation neighborhood” designed to mix education, housing and entrepreneurship, under plans unveiled this week. [beforeafter]Current view looking northwest towards University City. © 2016 SHoP Architects PC / West 8Future view looking northwest towards University City. Schuylkill Yards will be built intentionally in phases designed by different architects over time. © 2016 SHoP Architects PC / West 8[/beforeafter] Schuylkill Yards is the name of the mixed-use project, which will add up to eight million square feet of offices, labs, and housing in new and recycled buildings next to the third busiest passenger rail station in the country. Drexel University, which assembled the land and envisioned the project, announced this week that it has selected Brandywine Realty Trust of Philadelphia to be the master developer and its joint venture partner in the project. SHoP Architects and the Dutch firm West 8 are working on the master plan. SHoP will handle the district planning and development of the architectural standards, and West 8 will be responsible for creating the public realm and development of the landscape standards. Renderings unveiled this week show a combination of high-rise and low-rise buildings on a 10-acre site next to Drexel’s main campus, Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, and Brandywine’s Cira Centre development. “Schuylkill Yards will undeniably transform Philadelphia’s skyline as new towers rise on the west side of the Schuylkill River,” said Gerard H. Sweeney, president and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust. [beforeafter]Current view from Center City looking west towards West Philadelphia. © 2016 SHoP Architects PC / West 8Future view from Center City looking west towards West Philadelphia. © 2016 SHoP Architects PC / West 8[/beforeafter] Proposed uses in this “collaborative neighborhood” include entrepreneurial spaces, educational facilities and research laboratories, corporate offices, residential and retail spaces, hospitality and cultural venues, and public open spaces. While the community is being designed for a wide range of users, from educational and medical institutions to residents and businesses, developers say the common theme will be the pursuit of innovation “Drexel has always believed there’s a superior use for this unique location — essentially the 50 yard line of the Eastern Seaboard — as a neighborhood built around collaboration and innovation. That’s why the University assembled these parcels, and the time is right to put this vision into action,” said Drexel President John A. Fry. “Schuylkill Yards is more than a large-scale development; it will be the heart of America’s next great urban innovation district.” The developers say this is a long-term investment in Philadelphia and its University City neighborhood, and it’s aimed at people who want to live or work in the area and have easy access to the train station. Besides its proximity to 30th Street Station, Schuylkill Yards will have connections to Philadelphia’s international airport. The master plan calls for a new gateway to Drexel and University City, a real estate submarket with a high concentration of education and medical institutions. Construction of Schuylkill Yards will take place in multiple phases over the course of approximately 20 years. As master developer, Brandywine, will oversee a team that includes Gotham Organization leading the residential development, and Longfellow Real Estate Partners leading the life sciences component. When completed, developers say, the site will contain a mix of repurposed existing buildings and new towers connected by a “diverse network of public spaces.” The development will begin with the creation of Drexel Square, a 1.3 acre park at 30th and Market streets, directly across from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station. In addition, they say, the historic former Bulletin Building will  be reimagined by transforming its east facade with “inside/out viewports and a dynamic front screen.” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the project represents “one of the most valuable assemblages of real estate” in the nation. “Schuylkill Yards is a big step forward in University City’s transition to a next-generation business district,” he said. “It will provide our region’s current and future innovators with a central hub for collaboration and signal to the world that Philadelphia is ready for business in the 21st century’s new economy.” Schuylkill Yards “will bring new, innovative businesses and residents to Pennsylvania, and the potential economic impact is tremendous,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, “Those who choose to make Schuylkill Yards their home will have access to many of the most innovative companies, organizations and educational institutions in our state.”
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Nine finalists selected for Philadelphia competition to re-imagine cities through play spaces

The Community Design Collaborative (CDC), in partnership with the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC), has selected nine finalists for Play Space, a design competition that challenged designers to create spaces for play at a library, a school, and a recreation center in Philadelphia. Play Space explored how good design encourages early childhood development and the success of communities on the whole. The two-year initiative is part of CDC's Infill Philadelphia, a program that uses architecture and design to confront community development challenges in Philadelphia and elsewhere. “The power of play space in the community and its impact on early childhood development is becoming an issue that is facing all cities in the U.S., and for that matter, around the globe,” Beth Miller, executive director of the Community Design Collaborative, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that teams from around the world chose to tackle our design challenge in Philadelphia, bringing different perspectives but working toward the same goal of improving the quality of life for individuals and families.” Three teams were selected for each competition location. Those nine teams will be vetted again: once by the community and again by the jury at an exhibition in mid-March. In all, 40 teams from five countries and 11 U.S. states applied to be considered. Take a look below at the three sites and nine finalists: Site: Blanche A. Nixon/Cobbs Creek Branch Library Neighborhood Playbook (Philadelphia) Team Members: SALT Design Studio (lead), CH2M HILL, the City University of New York, Ian Smith Design Group, It's All Made Up, Kirk Fromm, design + illustration, PlayHarvest, and SS | Design Details. Nixon Park (Atlanta) Team Members: TSW (lead) and Wesleyan School. [Pictured at top] Play Structure | Story Structure (Philadelphia) Team Members: Ground Reconsidered Landscape Architecture (lead), Designed For Fun, Friends Select School, J R Keller LLC Creative Partnerships, Meliora Environmental Design LLC, and The Parent-Infant Center. Site: Waterloo Recreation Center Community Gifts (Guelph, Ontario, Canada) Team Members: Shift Landscape Architecture (lead) and Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School. Reclaiming Recreation (Philadelphia, PA)  Team Members: Ramla Benaissa Architects (lead), Elwyn, and Maser Consulting P.A. Waterloo Rebosante (Philadelphia) Team Members: Roofmeadow and StudioLudo (co-leads) and Space for Childhood. Site: Haverford Bright Futures Bright Futures Chutes and Ladders (Philadelphia) Team Members: Meliora Environmental Design (lead), Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, International Consultants, The Parent-Infant Center, and Viridian Landscape Studio. Co-Play at Haverford Bright Futures (Chicago) Team Members: Terry Guen Design Associates (lead), CITYPLAY, Philly Art Center, and Roots First. Embrace Past Present and Future (Beijing, China) Team Members: Studio of Instinct Fabrication (lead) and Red Sun Kindergarten.
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Philadelphia set to appoint the first-ever Complete Streets Commissioner

Philadelphia officially recognizes cyclists as a constituency deserving special protection. This week, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the creation of a "Complete Streets Commissioner," a new position in city government to oversee the creation of more bike-friendly infrastructure. But the story gets complicated from there. Historically, Kenney is not the most ardent supporter of "complete streets," a term coined by the National Complete Streets Coalition to describe roads harmoniously designed for cyclists, pedestrians, public transportation users, and cars. In 2009, as a City Council member, Kenney introduced legislation to up fines for headphone-wearing bike riders. His co-legislators are not too enthused about bikes, either: The same City Council gave itself veto power over proposed bike lanes in 2012. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia lead the creation of the commissioner position. According to Philadelphia Magazine, the Bicycle Coalition organized a mayoral forum for Democratic candidates, where each would-be mayor claimed to support "Vision Zero" objectives. The group issued a platform last year during election season, outlining reforms needed to make safer streets. Sarah Clark Stuart, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition, maintains that "creating a commissioner who is thinking about and looking at all transportation modes, and how to make them safer and work better for everyone, that is new. And what that signals is that there is a dedicated, high-ranking official who is assigned the responsibilities to marshall citywide resources and set policy toward the goal of making Philadelphia's streets safer for everyone." Why isn't Philadelphia's Office of Transportation & Utilities assuming these responsibilities? In a shift towards a "strong-managing-director form of government," Kenney is simultaneously creating the Complete Streets Commissioner position while closing the Office of Transportation & Utilities. Clarena Tolson, the Deputy Managing Director of Transportation & Infrastructure, will continue to oversee street maintenance, water, some of the complete streets program, as well as synchronize operations of the Philadelphia Energy Authority and SEPTA. There's no word yet on the application process. Urbanists, keep your ears peeled.
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Philly’s University City to undergo a ground-up rethink by Ayers Saint Gross, ZGF, and OLIN

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.
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Does Snøhetta’s design for a new library at Temple University spell the end of books?

Libraries are temples for books, though Snøhetta's plan for a new library at Temple University in Philadelphia argues that you can have one without the other. The design of the Temple University Library is influenced by the academies of ancient Greece, which privileged social spaces for discourse over the storage and management of written materials. It almost seems as if  the Oslo- and New York–based firm is pioneering a new typology within its own practice. In December 2015, Snøhetta unveiled its "library without books," also based on the Greek stoas and agoras, for Toronto's Ryerson University. Including Temple, Snøhetta has designed eleven libraries, both standalone and as part of larger programs. Although Ryerson's library was built first, Snøhetta has been in talks with Temple about a new library since 2013. The library's wooden arches mark entryways that slice into the rough stone facade. Steel mullions support pleated frameless glass windows, increasing transparency from the outside at the main entrances. Arches continue into the sweeping main lobby, where a three-story, domed atrium features an oculus that serves as a wayfinder by opening up the library's upper-floor functions visually to students in the main lobby. A cafe and a 24/7 study space on the ground floor round out the interior program. Classroom space extends outside, with stepped seating on the green roof and ground-floor plazas to encourage congregation. To manage Temple's two million-plus books, periodicals, DVDs, and other materials, the new library uses an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) that allows the library to devote more square footage to "learning spaces" and less space to the stacks. The video below shows an ASRS in action at Santa Clara University. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez9Z7rHqk1Y The idea (ideal, to some) of libraries as musty repositories of hardcopy information is patently outdated. Librarians are quick to embrace their role not only as collection managers but as communication and content facilitators, whatever the medium. The impulse behind the design, however, recalls the failed 2012 Foster + Partners redesign the New York Public Library's main branch on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street. Plans called for removing seven floors of stacks under the Rose Main Reading Room to create a 300-person workspace. New York culture leaders widely criticized the plan for moving most of the library's books off-site, or underground. (Dutch firm Mecanoo was awarded the commission in September 2015.) Though the top floor at the Temple Library is programmed for a sunny reading room with stacks, books are explicitly not the design's focus. It's worth noting that around 1,800 years passed between the founding of Platonic Academy and the invention of the printing press. The ancient Greek academies privileged social space over materials management because there were far, far fewer books; information transmission today takes place primarily though image and text. Perhaps the invocation of the scholarly ancient Greeks softens the capitulation to a depressing reality: the 2010 Collegiate Learning Assessment found that one-third of college students read less than 40 pages per week for classes. The library is one part of a $300 million campus expansion plan that includes a to-be-built quadrangle, the public space at the heart of the campus' new social and academic core. Construction of the library should be complete by 2018.
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Here’s Philadelphia’s ambitious plan to build a neighborhood over a railyard on the Schuylkill River

Cap and trade agreements are a standard tool in the climate change fight. Philadelphia, in collaboration with an urban design team led by SOM, is getting in on the game. Recently revised plans for the 30th Street Station and surrounding neighborhoods call for capping 70 acres of Amtrak and SEPTA-owned land, trading the underutilized space for a mixed-use neighborhood, parkland, and three pedestrian bridges across the Schuylkill River, linking University City with Logan Square and Center City. SOM partnered with Parsons Brinckerhoff, OLIN, and HR&A Advisors on the $5.25 million study. Through citizen input, the design team developed three iterations of the plan, all of which were presented and debated at a December 16th meeting, PlanPhilly reported. The study reviews land use over 175 acres, 88 of which are owned by Amtrak and SEPTA. The main project partners are Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and SEPTA, along with twelve other stakeholders. Once adopted, the plan will guide the area's development through 2040. In addition to the capping and bridges, all three plans propose doubling the size of Drexel Park, boardwalks, a river overlook, and a bus terminal. There will be two more public meetings on the plan in spring and summer 2016.
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Construction on Philly’s 40th Street Trolley Portal by Andropogon finally moves ahead

Plans are finally underway to remake Philadelphia's 40th Street Trolley Portal. In conjunction with the city, nonprofit University City District (UDC) will transform the boring, character-free concrete SEPTA trolley terminal, adjacent to the University of Pennsylvania, into a social space for one of Philly's most vibrant areas.  The terminal serves four busy trolley lines, but provides little in the way of comfort or amusement for passengers. Landscaping, by Philadelphia's own Andropogon Associates, will lure pollinators with native plants. The beds will be surrounded by seat-walls, an ingredient in William H. Whyte's famous formula for the social life of small urban spaces. UDC has a positive track record around refurbishing heavily used public space. A 2013 streetscape intervention at Baltimore Crossing created bump-outs at three corners to make the busy intersection safer for pedestrians. Curbed reported that a pedestrian plaza will include tables and chairs shaded by a grove of trees, surrounded by native plants, and flanked by artfully placed boulders. A restaurant with a green roof, art installations, bike parking, improved pedestrian circulation, and cultural programming will round out the redevelopment. Trolley waiting stations will have green roofs, too. The one acre site presents some challenges. For safety, the landscaping has to be low enough to allow clear sightlines, and trees cannot be too tall, or they risk interference with the trolleys' catenary wires. Construction on the 40th Street Trolley Portal will begin in 2016, with an opening set for 2017. UDC states that the project will cost $2.1 million.
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Pelli Clarke Pelli designs bright and curvy addition to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Designers and doctors know instinctively what science now confirms: design that connects people to light, air, and green space reduces stress and facilitates the healing process. Putting research into action, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's tapped New York's Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects to design the Buerger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care at the hospital's main campus in West Philadelphia. Houston-based FKP Architects is the architect of record. The 700,000 square foot outpatient facility is comprised of a rectangular, 12 story main wing, and a connected six story wing of Jetsons-esque stacked floors whose bottoms are painted bright red, yellow, green, and blue. A 14,000 square foot roof garden on the top gives patients access to fresh air and a space to play, while a 2.6 acre ground floor plaza is partially planted with medicinals for complementary therapeutic use. In a statement, founding principal Cesar Pelli noted that "depicting the playfulness of children helps reinforce the idea of a positive medical experience." Inside, playful curvature guides eyes to the outside through banks of glass windows, while ramps and welcoming wayfinding signage guide patients and their families through the facilities. The Buerger Center features spaces unique to children's hospitals, including a mock MRI machine that helps health care workers prepare children for the sometimes claustrophobia-inducing procedures. The facility will serve approximately 200,000 young people annually. Specialties are grouped by level. Levels two through five opened this year, while levels six and seven will open in 2017.
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Philadelphia is the United States’ first World Heritage City

What do Safranbolu, Turkey; Gyeongju, Korea; Cidade Velha, Cape Verde; and Philadelphia, PA, have in common? They are all World Heritage Cities. On November 6, the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) honored Philadelphia with a World Heritage City designation. Philadelphia is the first United States city to be recognized by the OWHC. The mayor's office and city leaders have been advocating for World Heritage City designation since 2013. Philadelphia has the requisite historical chops: UNESCO named Independence Hall, where 18th century diplomats wielded pens over multiple founding documents, a World Heritage Site in 1979. In order to qualify as a World Heritage Site, a place or building must meet at least one of ten selection criteria. The selection criteria require a site to have a historical, political, cultural, aesthetic, scientific, or natural attributes of "outstanding universal value" to humankind. Though UNESCO plays no role in designating World Heritage Cities, OWHC stipulates that a World Heritage City must have at least one UNESCO World Heritage Site. At its 13th annual gathering, the OWHC acknowledged Philadelphia's political significance, voting to include the city in their pantheon of over 266 heritage cities at their latest meeting in Arequipa, Peru. Benefits accrue to member cities. Through the OWHC, municipalities can share information on how to protect their cultural assets and promote heritage tourism. Mayor Michael Nutter hopes that the designation will increase investment in the city and strengthen its (already lucrative) heritage tourism sector. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and an OWHC designation brings visibility to a city's heritage, and encourages travel to chosen sites. Sites are sometimes damaged, however, when designated cities lack the tourism infrastructure to support the increase in visitors. Critics have also called out the OWHC's list for its profound Eurocentrism. Though Philadelphia is a Western city, it does have the capacity to support increased tourism that the World Heritage City title may engender.
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KieranTimberlake demonstrates best practices for a prototypical new commercial building

The facility will serve students, building operators, building energy auditors, and will be used to support the development of new business ventures in energy efficiency.

The Consortium for Building Energy Innovation (CBEI)—formerly the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub—at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard, is a research initiative funded by the Department of Energy and led by Penn State University that seeks to reduce the energy usage of commercial buildings to 50% by 2020. KieranTimberlake, a Philadelphia-based firm located three miles from Navy Yard, was selected by Penn State to renovate a 1940’s Georgian-style brick building to be a living laboratory for advanced energy retrofit technology. Included in the brief was an addition to the building, which evolved into a new stand-alone building across the street on Lot 7R, which aptly became the name of the building. The new 7R building, literally tied to the ground with groundwater-sourced heat pumps, is also formally and tectonically organized around passive solar strategies. A number of daylighting studies drove a re-shape of the building. An initial four-story cube was introduced in Robert A.M. Stern and Associates’ masterplan for the site, but became a long linear east-west oriented low-lying building. This configuration maximizes daylighting while minimizing over-shadowing on the site, establishing a framework for campus growth. 7R is loaded with environmental features including a green roof, a gray water reuse system, integrated daylighting strategies, and geothermal wells. These environmental priorities influenced an approach to building envelope design that balances performance with overriding aesthetics and compositional goals. David Riz, a partner at KieranTimberlake, says the composition of the facade is integral to the siting of the building: “In a large number of our projects, we accentuate the orientation of our buildings with facade treatments.”
  • Facade Manufacturer Kawneer (aluminum), Solera (translucent glazing),JE Berkowitz (clear glazing),
  • Architects KieranTimberlake
  • Facade Installer Malvern Glass (translucent rainscreen), Torrado Construction (brick)
  • Facade Consultants Balfour Beatty (CM)
  • Location Philadelphia, PA
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System brick, clear & translucent glazing on steel frame
  • Products Metro Ironspot brick (by Yankee Hill Brick and Tile), VM Zinc (by Dri-Design), Kawneer Encore Storefront / Kawneer 451 UT Storefront / Kawneer 1600 Curtainwall, Solera, R-9 Panel with aerogel, Acrylite, 16mm High-Impact Multi-skinned Acrylic Panel
Brick, chosen for its relationship to a historic Navy Yard context, is utilized as a ‘solar shade,’ opening and closing along the south facade to manage direct heat gain, while eliminating the need for mechanized shades. ‘Rips’ in the brick fabric reveal a transparent glazing system adorned with horizontal sun shade louvers. To the north, the building visually connects to adjacent League Island Park by maximizing glazing along an elevated second floor ‘tree-top’ interior walkway. Arguably the most significant feature of the building envelope is a twin-wall assembly of insulated translucent panels, seen prominently along the length of the north facade, allowing the architects to maximize the level of daylight. David Riz says the panels are notably used both performatively and compositionally, spanning 19’ tall from the plenum to the roof coping: “We wanted to create syncopation in the patterning. We were trying to get a dual read on a long linear building introducing key moments as your eye moves along the building.” The panels are incorporated into the west facade as a primary material to help manage a harsh late-afternoon sun in the large auditorium’s break out space. Riz celebrates the success of the facade in managing a difficult western orientation through diffusing harsh sunlight into a soft glow: “When you’re in the break out space, you simultaneously sense the daylight from the west, a view to the north park, and also a view through the flying brick screen to the south. That’s where it all comes together.” Riz considers the quality of daylight filtering through the building envelope to be one of the project’s greatest strengths: “There are very nice moments as you walk through the building because its so narrow where you experience a simultaneity of the south facade and the north facade: a hint of the brick screen through the classrooms, and bays of transparent panels to the other direction.” KieranTimberlake, who recently received an award for Innovative Research at ACADIA 2015, continues to monitor for thermal performance and storm water analysis. In this regard, the 7R building is a blend between high tech data monitoring, paired with low-tech passive strategies and off-the-shelf products. The project, completed within the last year, will be utilized by Penn State for various research programs.