[Editor's Note: The following comment was left at archpaper.com in reference to John Gendall’s feature article on multi-modal transit hubs (“The Golden Ticket” AN 07_08.06.2914_MW). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email email@example.com. ] The original design of all grand U.S. railroad stations fit the architectural design foundation “form follows function.” Unfortunately the years have not been kind to these railroad stations. Real estate developers have coveted the rail yard property for non-transportation development. In some cases these rail yards have yielded to interstates, highways, and streets. This has transformed the depot (waiting room, ticket offices, etc.) into just “a nice old building that used to serve the traveling public.” Denver is a prime example of a real estate grab. A beautifully designed rail yard gave way to developers interests. Look at the Google Maps satellite view. Transportation design was an obvious afterthought. The rail yard is stubbed, necessitating a time-consuming backup move for any train, namely Amtrak’s California Zephyr, using the original waiting room. Any future Front Range development will also require a backup. The light rail system is tucked away, far from the grand original structure. The wispy “Sidney-Opera-House-Denver” platform cover design is curious. It stands in stark contrast to the architectural elements of the original depot. A Google image search of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station does not reveal the austere feel purported in this article. What it may need is just a spit and polish rehabilitation. Those who want to remodel the structure seem to stand arrogantly. They claim the original designs were flawed and that somehow modern architects and planners can do a better job. So, will Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station become another depot from the grand era of passenger rail to fall to the modern architect? If the regal designs of the past are too ostentatious, then an entirely new depot should be constructed. The old should be left undisturbed until a new generation of architects discovers that their great grandfathers knew better how to design transportation facilities. Evan Stair Executive Director Passenger Rail Oklahoma
Posts tagged with "Philadelphia":
It had been a few days—maybe even weeks—since we’d seen a new report about the devastating impacts of climate change, but, as expected, that short streak has ended. The latest end-of-the-world-type report comes from the Union of Concerned Scientists, and let’s just say there’s a reason these scientists are so concerned. Their report, Encroaching Tides, found that the frequency of tidal floods in coastal areas will increase dramatically over the next 15 to 30 years. In some areas, that could mean flooding more than once a week. And it gets worse down the road. According to the report, in 2045, Philadelphia could experience over 200 tidal floods a year, Miami could have 250, and Washington, D.C. could reach 400. For context, D.C. currently has around 50 tidal floods a year. The report presents four key strategies for cities to boost their resiliency: upgrade at-risk infrastructure, stop building in vulnerable areas, consider benefits and risks of adaptation measures, and to develop a long-term vision. [h/t CityLab]
DesignPhiladelphia is hosting its annual fundraiser, PopUp Place, tonight in celebration of its first ten years and to kick off a nine-day, design-focused festival in the city. The fundraiser will include a silent auction that includes work from artists and architects including KieranTimberlake. PopUp Place is being hosted by digital agency Bluecadet in its new, 8,400-square-foot office and studio in Philly’s Fishtown neighborhood. And starting tomorrow is DesignPhiladelphia’s “A Decade of Design” festival which will feature 120 events at museums, galleries, boutiques, public spaces, and warehouses across the city. The PopUp Place fundraiser is tonight from 6:00–8:00p.m. at Bluecadet at 1526 Frankford Avenue. For more information on the fundraiser and festival visit DesignPhiladelphia’s website.
The federal Department of Transportation has issued its latest round of its Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants for cities and states around the country. The grant program was created in 2009 through President Obama’s economic stimulus package and has since provided $3.5 billion to 270 projects. While the DOT has not officially announced the recipients of these new grants, which total $600 million, multiple politicians have been touting the money heading to their districts. Here are some of the projects we know about so far. In New York, Senator Chuck Schumer and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the New York City Department of Transportation will receive $25 million for its Vision Zero agenda to reduce pedestrian fatalities. According to the city, the money will fund 13 projects aimed at traffic calming, safety improvements in school zones, new public spaces, and “pedestrian and bike connections to employment centers.” Specifically, the money will be used to extend the Brooklyn Greenway and make 4th Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn safer to pedestrians. In Philadelphia, $2.5 million has been awarded to support the city’s effort to create a bus rapid transit system along Roosevelt Boulevard. “Planned developments on Roosevelt Boulevard include modifications to provide safe pedestrian crossings, transit access, and effective separation of express traffic from local traffic accessing neighborhood destinations,” Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey said in a statement. In Virginia, U.S. Senator Mark Warner announced that nearly $25 million has been allocated for a bus rapid transit system in the city of Richmond. The Times Dispatch reported that for this project to happen, the federal money must be matched with about $17 million from the Department of Rail and Public Transportation and another $8 million from Henrico County and the City of Richmond. In St. Louis, $10 million will go towards a new Metrolink station in the city’s emerging Cortex innovation district. The funding will cover almost all of the $13 million project which is expected to be complete in 2017. On the other side of the state, in Kansas City, $1.2 million has been awarded for the Mid-America Regional Council’s Workforce Connex planning to study to better connect the city’s workers with public transit.
Earlier today, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter cut the ribbon on Dilworth Park—a new 120,000-square-foot public space next to City Hall. OLIN led the $55 million renovation of the site which now includes an expansive lawn, a café, new trees and seating, and a nearly 12,000-square-foot fountain that converts into an ice skating rink in the winter. The fountain also doubles—rather triples—as a canvas for renowned artist Janet Echelman's latest installation. "The serpentine form is meant as an abstract representation of the subways moving deep below the park," explained Inga Saffron in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Each time a train pulls in, colored light and puffs of mist will pulse along the sinuous path, symbolizing the constant movement of the city's transit infrastructure." The site’s most notable features, though, are likely the two KieranTimberlake-designed glass headhouses that rise out of the plaza providing an architectural flourish and better access points to the trains below.
Plans for a 17-story tower at 205 Race Street in Philadelphia are back on track, but what will rise at the vacant site appears to be significantly more restrained than what was first envisioned. In 2012, Peter Gluck, then of Peter Gluck and Partners, unveiled dramatic renderings for a tower that had a facade clad in panels that seemed to disappear as they rose up an increasingly glassy exterior skin. The building, which sits adjacent to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, had ground-floor retail and was separated into two distinct volumes by a two-story cutout that opened up about fifty feet above the street. That plan was almost unanimously rejected by the Old City Civic Association. As PhillyMag reported earlier this summer, Peter Gluck, at the renamed GLUCK+, updated the tower’s design and the project's developer, Brown Hill, brought it before the Civic Design Review Committee. While the structure’s massing is roughly the same, its facade has been significantly toned down; it is now wrapped in two types of metal panels and plenty of glass (a spokesperson for GLUCK+ told AN that the design is still in the development phase). The plan was approved by the committee and the project is expected to break ground early next year. It includes 148 rental apartments (20 more than in the first proposal), nearly 15,000 square feet for commercial use, and an 8,000-square-foot roof terrace. As PlanPhilly noted, 205 Race Street will be the first residential building in the city to get a density bonus for including affordable units—10 percent of the building will be designated affordable.
[Editor's Note: The following comment was left on archpaper.com in response to the editorial “Motoring Toward Destruction?” (AN 08_06.05.2014), which parsed the wisdom of Detroit’s blight removal program.Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. ] I’m failing to find a thesis in here, other than wholesale demolition = bad, which is something we’re well aware of. Other considerations that weren’t even mentioned in this are aspects of public safety (arson and the use of dilapidated structures in which to commit crimes, peddle drugs, etc.) and the question of revenue (clearing blighted structures for redevelopment). The article even mentions that of the 80,000 blighted structures, we’re attempting to save more than half. I further take issue with some of the language in here. “In its panic to save itself…” There are issues here, the scope and depth of which are truly terrible. I’d love to have the author come to Detroit so we could show him some of what, as he puts it, we’re so panicked about. Mac Farr Data and Financial Manager City of Detroit
When Frank Gehry’s renovation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is complete, the iconic institution won’t necessarily look like one of his signature works—at least from the outside. The architect isn't touching the icon's Beaux-Arts exterior, but is, instead, transforming the museum’s interior to improve circulation and boost gallery space. But even then, Gehry’s work won’t be all that “Gehry.” AN recently toured the museum’s exhibit on Gehry’s masterplan and got a chance to hear from the man himself about the museum renovations. On the tour, Gehry explained how he reimagined the building’s interior with a distinctive signature, but one that is inspired by the building’s DNA. “I think if it’s built, you’ll know somebody like me was here,” he said. This renovation has been a long time coming. And it will be a long time still before it's finally realized. The idea to update the museum was born in the 1990s and completing Gehry’s entire overhaul could take 10–15 years more. “If they wait five years, I’ll be 90,” Gehry said. “So for me, get going.” Given his age, and his storied career, AN asked Gehry about what else he wants to accomplish. “I’m so superstitious,” he said before explaining that he wants to increase his involvement in arts education. He mentioned his participation in the Turnaround Arts initiative—a presidential program, which aims to close the achievement gap through arts and music education. He told a story about going into a school in California and teaching kids how to plan and imagine cities. Gehry added that children are often marginalized in “ghetto schools.” “That’s what I’m interested in, that kind of stuff," said Gehry. "I am also designing a sailboat." Which, of course seems entirely appropriate given his predilection for sailing. He does, after all, already own a boat called FOGGY, which stands for his initials: Frank Owen Gehry. These days, it seems, every starchitect needs a boat in his or her oeuvre. Hear that Zaha and Norman? Frank will see you at the regatta.
With a recent vote in the Philadelphia City Council, bikeshare moves closer to becoming a reality in the City of Brotherly Love. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the council’s Transportation and Public Utilities Committee advanced a bill to bring bikeshare to the city by next spring. The bill is expected to be approved by the full city council on June 19. If that happens, the bikeshare system will launch with 600 bikes at 60 stations and, in the following two years, expand to include up to 2,000 bikes at 200 stations. According to the Inquirer, “the city will initially provide up to $3 million to Bicycle Transit Systems, the Philly-based company chosen to provide, operate and maintain the integrated bike-share system, he said. The funds will be used for delivery, planning and installation.” While Philadelphia is fairly late to the bikeshare game, the city will distinguish its system by allowing those without a debit or credit card to rent a bike. That part of the program is still in the works.
An art installation along Philadelphia’s Northeast Amtrak corridor is adding some color to the travel experience for 34,000 daily riders. Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse has been commissioned by the city’s Mural Arts Program to transform seven sites alongside the tracks with vibrant (and environmentally friendly) coats of paint: Orange and white streak across a warehouse, green and white do the same on an abandoned brick structure, and hot pink cover brush and boulders. The installation, titled psychylustro, began unveiling itself in late April and will “unfold in a series of seven passages—from vast, dramatic warehouse walls to mall buildings and stretches of green spaces—meant to be framed through the windows of the moving train, creating a real-time landscape painting that explores shifting scale, perspective and the passage of time.” The Mural Arts Program has committed to maintain the work in “world-premier conditions” for its first six months. After that, the installation is intended to age, weather, and disappear altogether.
For the past 15 years, the Divine Lorraine Hotel in Philadelphia has been sitting vacant at the corner of Broad and Fairmount. The 10-story building, which opened in 1894 as luxury apartments, was once a towering symbol of wealth. Today, it is a graffiti-covered shell of its former self—but that could soon change. A local developer is finalizing plans to bring the building back to life. Before that happens, AN was allowed inside—and on top of—the Divine Lorraine to see the space in all its tagged and gutted glory. First, some history. The Willis G. Hale–designed building opened as the Lorraine Apartments, but was converted into a high-end hotel at the turn of the century. The Lorraine operated as such until Reverend Jealous Divine, the founder of the International Peace Mission Movement, bought the building in 1948. He changed the name of the building to include his own name, and opened what is said to be the first racially-integrated hotel in Philadelphia, and maybe the country. The Reverend has been described as both a religious leader and a cult leader. The fact that Jim Jones tried to take over the Movement after the Reverend's death in 1965 points toward the latter. By 1999, the Divine Lorraine had been completely abandoned. In the following years, many tried to give the building new use, but never found success. What is happening now is different. With the help of a $31.5 million loan from a real estate lender, local developer Eric Blumenfeld plans to transform the Lorraine into 127 apartments, restaurants, retail space, and, possibly, a hotel. When the transformation of the Divine Lorraine is complete, its iconic rooftop sign will be lit again with neon. The terms of that loan are expected to be finalized within 30 days, and construction will likely take up to two years. Local firm Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) is overseeing the project. When AN visited the building, crews were already busy blasting graffiti off Lorraine's skin, and construction lighting was hanging throughout the interior. A structural report on the building had been completed the day before.
One of Philadelphia’s most impressive old ruins might be coming back to life. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a New Jersey real estate lender is providing $31.5 million to convert the decaying Divine Lorraine hotel into luxury apartments and commercial space. This is not the first attempt to transform the Lorraine, but it just might be its best. The 120-year-old Romanesque structure that was once a symbol of opulent luxury has been abandoned for the past 15 years—save for the ghosts who are rumored to wander its halls. But that could soon change. According to The Inquirer, this influx of cash could help developer Eric Blumenfeld "kick-start a conversion of the graffiti-scarred historic building." He bought the Lorraine for $8 million in 2012, but hasn't been able to finance a full transformation. If all things go according to plan, the Divine Lorraine will be just one of the new projects coming online along Philly's North Broad Street corridor. The building was designed by Willis G. Hale and opened as the Lorraine Apartments back in 1894. “The Lorraine was the true pinnacle of luxury in its time, boasting full electricity, two gigantic penthouse ballrooms, and a talented staff that pushed private servants into a state of obsolescence,” reported Curbed Philly. A few years later, it was turned into a hotel, which was successful up until the Depression. In 1948, the founder of the International Peace Mission Movement, Reverend Major Jealous Divine, bought the building and renamed it the Divine Lorraine Hotel. The Reverend welcomed anyone into the Lorraine, making it America’s first racially integrated hotel. All were welcome, but according to Curbed, guests had to obey Divine’s rules: “That meant no drinking, no smoking, no profanity, and sharing quarters with the opposite sex was forbidden. The two penthouse ballrooms were transformed into worship halls while the ground floor kitchen was opened to the public as a low-cost alternative for hungry Philadelphians.” And that’s just the start of it. Jim Jones—yes, Jamestown Jim Jones—used to kick it with the Reverend inside the hotel. After Divine’s death in the 1960s, Jones unsuccessfully tried to continue leading his friend's movement. Instead, Jones started his own thing, which you may have heard about. Fast-forward to 2002 when the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and then to 2006 when Philly developer Michael Treacy Jr. bought the building with a promise to preserve its historic integrity. According to Untapped Cities, that didn't happen; “instead the interior of the building was scavenged for everything from marble and alabaster to radiators and old mattresses. Afterward, it was left abandoned, windows shattered, the interior exposed to the elements." After many years of change, this abandoned, graffitied, possibly haunted, formerly-cultish, beautiful hotel is prepping for its next guests.