Posts tagged with "Philadelphia":

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Groundbreaking at the hulking Divine Lorraine marks the end of blight at Philly’s towering landmark

Groundbreaking on the Divine Lorraine, Philadelphia's luxury hotel turned graffiti artist playground, begins this afternoon. Completed in 1894, Willis G. Hale's 10 story Lorraine Apartments featured state-of-the-art technology (electric lights), and bourgeois amenities (a kitchen staff that cooked for the tenants, eliminating the need for household servants).  At the beginning of the 20th century, the apartments were converted into a hotel. The Reverend Jealous Divine bought the structure in 1948, and opened the country's first integrated hotel. Abandoned in 1999, the structure steadily decayed, battered by urban explorers, graffiti artists, and sixteen Philadelphia winters. Last year, The Architect's Newspaper explored the property from the ground up with developer Eric Blumenfeld. Blumenfeld plans to turn the $44 million property into a hotel. If the hotel's capsule collection on Instagram is any indication, the Divine Lorraine should receive an extensive aesthetic makeover from the redevelopment team. Philadelphia firm Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) is spearheading the renovation.
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Eavesdrop> What’s your resign? Hilary Jay steps down at the Philadelphia Center for Architecture

After just under two years at the helm, Philadelphia Center for Architecture director Hilary Jay has stepped down. The Center said in a statement that the departure was “mutual and amicable.” But after the recent abrupt, mysterious resignation of Rick Bell from AIA New York for undisclosed reasons, we are left wondering what really is going on behind the scenes. Jay’s legacy is the Design Philadelphia Festival, which she founded but will leave under direction of the Center. “I move forward knowing that the festival is in capable and creative hands with Nova Harris as DP’s program manager,” she said in a statement So the story goes…
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For the first time in 43 years, the Vanna Venturi House is for sale!

The Vanna Venturi House in Philadelphia is for sale. That’s right, the Vanna Venturi House. Robert Venturi’s 3 bed, 2 bath, 1,986-square-foot work of seminal Postmodern architecture can be yours for only $1,750,000. Located in a quiet Philadelphia neighborhood, the house is for sale for the first time in 43 years. The house was built in 1965 and is best known as “Mother’s House,” Robert Venturi’s manifesto that exemplified many of his concepts outlined in Complexity and Contradiction. Many consider it the first self-consciously Postmodern building in the world. The subtle changes in composition and the juxtaposition of classical forms and contemporary language are classic, playful Venturi. Take a look around the interior in AN's tour of the house from 2011. Inside, original Carerra marble floors remain in the entryway, while an oversized fireplace warms the living room, which also features built-in bookcases and a Venturian chair rail. Skylights and shifting volumes give the rooms plenty of light and shadow. The house is located in Chestnut Hill and has been featured on a 2005 postage stamp. The house is also in the school district of Jenks Elementary, which is an ironic and double-coded bonus.
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Bjarke Ingels and James Corner give Philadelphia’s 214-year-old Navy Yard a boost into the 21st century

Bjarke Ingels is giving Philadelphia's antique Navy Yard a jolt into the 21st century. BIG teamed up with James Corner Field Operations to bring a $35 million office building, called 1200 Intrepid, featuring double curves designed to mirror the contours of Corner's surrounding landscape. "Our design for 1200 Intrepid has been shaped by the encounter between Robert Stern’s urban master plan of rectangular city blocks and James Corner’s iconic circular park,” Ingels said in a statement. “The ‘shock wave’ of the public space spreads like rings in the water invading the footprint of our building to create a generous urban canopy at the entrance.” The 94,000-square-foot, four-story structure just broke ground in the Navy Yard. It stands adjacent to the Central Green, a park that boasts circular plots occupied by a variety of trees and plants, pedestrian pathways, and a hammock grove. In addition, it offers a fitness station, a table tennis area, and a running track that 1200 Intrepid's design responds to. The park and building are part of Pennsylvania’s plan to transform this segment of South Philly from an industrialized business campus to a multi-functional industrial space that will accommodate 11,000 employees working for companies ranging from the pharmaceutical industry to Urban Outfitters. The plan to revitalize the Naval Yard began in 2004 when the state commissioned Michael van Valkenburgh Associates, Robert A.M. Stern, and numerous experts to create a master plan that “includes environmentally friendly workplaces, notable architecture, industrial development, great public spaces, waterfront amenities, improved mass transit, and residential development,” according to the Navy Yard website. Ingels’ building will help reach the Yard’s estimated goal of supporting up to $3 billion in private investments, 13.5 million square feet of development, and 30,000 people. Although 1200 Intrepid has yet to secure tenants, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal, it is set to open its doors in 2016. The project is being developed by Pennsylvania-based Liberty Property Trust and Synterra Partners.
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Philadelphia Housing Authority’s biggest urban renewal project ever advances

The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) plans to undertake its most ambitious urban renewal project to date. Through eminent domain, the agency would seize about 1,300 properties and entirely remake the Sharswood neighborhood which has been plagued with vacancy, blight, crime, and poverty. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that most of these properties are city-owned, tax-delinquent, or empty. This massive acquisition would include demolishing two of the Blumberg Towers, a 1960s-era public housing development in the neighborhood. In its place would come 1,203 new homes and apartments, most of which would be designated as affordable. The development—well, the new neighborhood really—would also incorporate a new headquarters for the PHA, a supermarket, a renovated school, new recreation centers and open spaces, and a mix of independently-owned shops and chain stores. The Philadelphia Daily News reported that city officials will move the 363 families currently living in the Blumberg Towers to other PHA properties. Those living or working inside one of the 73 occupied buildings on the agency's demolition list "will get fair-market value for their properties and relocation assistance." Despite concerns about the scale of the redevelopment, and worries about the PHA's ability to handle such a significant mixed-use project, a City Council rules committee recently gave preliminary approval to the PHA's plan. PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah says the project will take 10 years to complete, but that the agency hopes to get going on it this year or next.
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Promising signs for the Reading Viaduct, Philadelphia’s “High Line”

Earlier this year, AN kicked off its video series with a tour of Philly's Reading Viaduct, an abandoned elevated rail line that advocates hope to transform into a linear park. The project has been talked about for years, but the pace has really picked up over the last few months. When we visited the site, president of the nonprofit Friends of the Rail Park, Leah Murphy, and the park's designer, Bryan Hanes, said they hoped to break ground on the first phase of the project—the spur—this year. Now, it looks like that is going to happen—possibly as soon as this summer. In March, the Knight and William Penn foundations announced they would provide $11 million for five shovel-ready park projects around the city, including $1 million for the Reading Viaduct. Since then, the chances of the project getting underway have solidified even further. PlanPhilly recently reported that Councilman Mark Squilla introduced legislation that would allow the city to purchase the 0.8-acre spur from Philly's transit agency, SEPTA, which currently owns the site. If SEPTA votes to hand over the property, the project will pass a major logistical hurdle. As for funding, Friends of the Rail Park told PlanPhilly that the group has already raised about 65 percent of the $9 million required for the spur. It is also pursuing a $3.5 million grant from Pennsylvania's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. For more on the history of the Reading Viaduct, and its possible future as an elevated park, check out our video below. https://vimeo.com/120168095
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After long wait, Philadelphia’s bikeshare fleet hits the streets

Philadelphia has become the latest American city to offer a bikeshare system with the introduction of Indego. On Thursday, Mayor Nutter celebrated the long-awaited launch by pedaling around town on one of the system's first 600 bikes. The program will expand significantly over the next two years. https://vimeo.com/125880262 The city is taking advantage of its conspicuously late entrance into bikeshare by offering the most up-to-date equipment and pricing schemes that should make the system more accessible to more people. StreetsBlog was there for the launch and filed a video from Philly's streets about what the light-blue bikes mean for the city. Take a look above.
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Giant Escalator Soon to Improve the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Famed Rocky Stairs

The infamous "Rocky" steps leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art will soon be revamped with a new 72-foot escalator beginning in spring 2016. The climb to the museum, which was most notably featured in the iconic movie scene with Sly Stallone, is being transformed to enhance accessibility in time for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next July. And more importantly, this overhaul will be completed in preparation for the next Rocky sequel, ensuring that the action hero, at the ripe age of 68, with his creaky knees, can gracefully scale the stairs once again. In a statement about the visionary project, VISIT PHILADELPHIA's president & CEO, Meryl Levitz, said, “It’s entirely fake. April Fools’!" While the steps will remain intact, change is underway with Frank Gehry's plan to expand the museum's gallery space under the West Terrace, which does sits atop the famous staircase.  
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PlanPhilly leaving PennPraxis for WHYY

PlanPhilly, the non-profit site that covers all things planning and urbanism in Philadelphia, is leaving PennPraxis at the University of Pennsylvania for WHYY, a public media outlet that brings the world Terry Gross. The site was launched in 2006 and has been reporting on the city's dramatic evolution ever since. "Following the move, PlanPhilly will help WHYY and its NewsWorks.org website deepen its coverage of civic issues and promote public dialogue about the future of the Philadelphia region," WHYY said in a statement. "Becoming part of WHYY’s public media operation will enable PlanPhilly to broaden its reach beyond its web audience through radio and television reporting."

AN Video> Tour Philly’s future Reading Viaduct with the designers behind the visionary linear park

https://vimeo.com/120168095 The Architect's Newspaper is introducing a new video series focusing on the places, people, and processes behind news-making projects. We begin with a tour of Philadelphia's Reading Viaduct, an abandoned rail line that advocates hope to transform into an elevated park, a grittier take on Manhattan's celebrated High Line. With the city and state pledging millions toward the project, the Viaduct park is moving closer to reality. Come along with us for a first look.
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The 2016 Democratic National Convention to be held in Philadelphia

Hillary Clinton will not be named the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, as Mayor Bill de Blasio had hoped. No, that will likely happen at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, as the Democratic National Committee has announced that the City of Brotherly Love will host its 2016 national convention. The expected anointing of Hillary will happen during the week of July 25, just days after the Republicans meet in Cleveland, Ohio to nominate—who knows—Jeb Bush? Clinton versus Bush. What a world.
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Iowa City picks Cecil Balmond for downtown art project

Iowa City this week picked engineer-turned-artist Cecil Balmond to anchor an overhaul of the city's downtown pedestrian plaza. His sculpture will be the focal point of Iowa City's Black Hawk Mini Park Art Project, the first phase of an $11 million streetscape redevelopment project that officials hope to start next year. Balmond's work aims to enliven public spaces with forceful, architectural installations. His studio has strung shafts of light in Anchorage, Alaska, explored the Solid Void of sculpture with a forest of metal filigree in Chicago's Graham Foundation, and woven steel like rope to bridge a Philadelphia railway. The Chicago Transit Authority recently tapped Cecil Balmond Studio to contribute art for an overhaul of the 91-year-old Wilson Red Line station. An artist review panel consisting of Genus Landscape Architects Brett Douglas and Angie Coyer, and Iowa City staff Geoff Fruin and Marcia Bollinger selected U.K.–born Balmond over artists Vito Acconci and Hans Breder. Construction on the project is expected to begin next year.