The 32nd Street corridor at Drexel University in Philadelphia has become a hub for student gatherings, interaction, and events. Situated between Chestnut and Market Streets in the campus center, the corridor’s current design, however, does not serve the social and functional needs of its college population. In March, landscape architecture firm Andropogon released primary renderings and plans for a complete redesign of the space now known as Perelman Plaza. In August, more comprehensive images were revealed, and now the project is underway. Two weeks ago, Andropogon broke ground in Phase One on the site, razing the existing awkwardly angled hardscape to begin construction of a practical design for the coexistence of human traffic and nature. Perelman Plaza, named after its $5 million benefactor Raymond G. Perelman of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Education Foundation, is set to foster community within the student body as a physical connection of the campus buildings surrounding the site. Plans reveal that Perelman Plaza will serve as an important link between old and new Drexel University structures, including the LeBow College of Business and the mixed-use Chestnut Square, both set to open in Fall 2013. Phase One of the plaza's creation will focus mostly on the landscape architecture of Cohen Garden, nestled in the courtyard between the Bossone Research Enterprise Center and the adjacent Peck Alumni Center. Future phases of the Perelman Plaza design will coordinate student spaces for large outdoor events, seating, and pedestrian traffic with natural settings for shade and aesthetic appeal. Andropogon has also proposed sections of high performance landscape that will be modified for sustainable management of rain and stormwater. The project is part of Drexel’s larger Campus Master Plan, an initiative extending through 2017 for expansion and improvements within the university that will better integrate it with the city of Philadelphia.
Posts tagged with "Philadelphia":
Norman Foster is expected to design a new skyscraper in downtown Philadelphia, according to sources cited by the Philly Inquirer. Media company Comcast has outgrown its current home in the city's tallest building—Robert A.M. Stern's 975-foot-tall Comcast Center. Details of the planned tower are being guarded, but architecture critic Inga Saffron reported that Comcast is exploring plans to build a "vertical campus" including several new towers, potentially beginning with a new structure on a 1.5-acre vacant lot at the corner of 18th and Arch streets (indicated above). The site was previously approved for a 1,500-foot-tall tower in 2008 but Saffron said the new tower would likely be shorter. Developer John Gattuso of Liberty Property Trust told the Inquirer, "The tower will be as big as it needs to be."
The Benjamin Franklin Museum at Independence National Historical Park (INHP) in Philadelphia has bid adieu to the 1970s. Closed by the National Park Service (NPS) for a $23 million, two-year renovation, the historic site has re-opened as an 8,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility to learn about the “relevant revolutionary.” Quinn Evans Architects (QEA) was tasked with renovating the original 1976 underground museum designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (VSBA). The museum now involves interactive displays, personal artifacts, and a glass pavilion, also known as the ghost house, operating as the main entrance from Franklin Court. While VSBA’s "ghost house" pavilion remains largely untouched, one major change consists of the new entry building, which replaces heavy brick walls with a ground floor facade of “fritted glass,” a pattern created from photographs of the original pavilion’s brick wall. Slate floors replace burnt orange-tiled passageways. The firm has also designed a large “View Window” to engage visitors with the ghost house, a steel structure outlining Franklin’s vanished residence and print shop. While recognizing that the museum could benefit from an update and the expanded entry pavilion might be needed to accommodate roughly 250,000 annual visitors, Scott Brown was not thrilled that VSBA was not asked to carry out the project. When the project began, AN reported that Doris Fanelli, chief of INHP’s Division of Cultural Resources Management, contended that the NPS selected QEA from a pre-approved list because the venture was progressing quickly. Although confronted with reluctance from architectural scholars to alter the postmodern icon, NPS did not approach VSBA, who was not on the list. In a letter, VSBA wrote that more offensive is how the alterations rework the museum entry experience, which resembled former urban planner Edmund Bacon’s greenway plan for Society Hill.
Three developers vie for the commission to convert Philadelphia’s 72-year-old Family Court Building into a new luxury hotel. After issuing a request for qualifications last October, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC) has selected three development teams from a pool of applicants, which include Fairmont Hotels & Resorts with Logan Square Holdings, Klimpton Hotels with P&A Associates and the Peebles Corp., and Starwood Hotel & Resorts with Dranoff Properties and HRI Properties. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the city will bring officials together from different departments, from planning to historic preservation, to oversee the review process and choose a proposal. The PIDC anticipates that an agreement will be reached with the winning developer by end of the year. A new hotel will be a coup for the area around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which has seen an influx of activity and changes in the last few years.
Although it gets more daily traffic than Midway Airport, Chicago’s main rail hub remains little more than a waypoint for most people—a bustling transit station buried beneath an often empty Beaux Arts volume. The Metropolitan Planning Council wants to change that. Their new placemaking contest, Activate Union Station, calls on architects, landscape architects, planners and designers of all stripes to submit ideas for a design-build program that will enliven the underused West Loop hub. Two winners will receive $5,000 each to make their ideas happen at any of three Union Station hotspots between Aug. 24 and Sept. 2: the Headhouse, located west of Canal Street; the east-facing arcade on Canal Street; and the Plaza of Fifth Third Center, along the Chicago River. The nation’s third-busiest rail hub, accommodating more than 120,000 Amtrak and Metra passengers every day, Union Station already recognized the need to invite people to stop and stay in its 2011 Master Plan, as they do in D.C. and Philadelphia. Entries are due July 24 at 5:00 p.m. to activateunionstation.com.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is planning an extensive expansion of its facilities. On May 7, at The Philadelphia School, representatives from Cooper, Robertson & Partners—the New York–based architecture firm selected to design the hospital—revealed renderings to community members regarding the world's oldest and largest children's hospital. Along with the construction of modern facilities, highlights include innovative stormwater management solutions and an open campus with extensive green spaces. The project consists of a large existing facility below the South Street Bridge on nine acres of land. The new buildings will be positioned with their long sides perpendicular to the river in an effort to minimize their presence, thus offering extensive waterfront views throughout the grounds. Open spaces will include a green plaza on South Street and a promenade that offers various ways to enter the new buildings. The Schuylkill River Trail will be extended to Christian Street and will emphasize a natural environment with large trees and supplemental shady areas. On the banks of the Schuylkill River, the hospital will be a model for stormwater management facilities. The stormwater concepts for CHOP involve rain gardens for surface run-off and a cistern for roof run-off reuse. Collecting stormwater and filtering it into the adjacent river will protect the facility and surrounding area from possible flooding and erosion. Phase One Development will culminate by mid-2017 with a total gross development area of 743,000 square feet, of which 546,000 (approximately twenty-three stories) are dedicated solely to office based research. The site will also incorporate interim commercial space in addition to parking and loading space. Plans were initially presented last year and final designs will be confirmed in the next few months. With CHOP’s current collaboration and coordination with the district, plans are expected to progress promptly and have the community saying, "chop, chop." [Via Curbed.]
Lightfair International held its 2013 edition at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Convention Center from April 21–25. More than 500 exhibitors, including 80-plus first-timers, filled over 200,000 square feet of exhibition space with the latest lighting technologies, from solar fittings to roadway fixtures, and rounded out a robust conference program with ample networking opportunities. Following are a handful of standout products from Lightfair’s exhibitors. Fino Amerlux Designed for corporate and hospitality settings, the wall mounted Fino produces indirect light for washing floors or ceilings. Aluminum construction with an extruded latching system was designed to be set within sheet rock for hairline seams. Once installed, light from a replaceable LED board bounces off an internal reflector to produce a soft, even glow. Fino is available in increments of 6-inch lengths. Coastal Light Lighting Science Amber LEDs differentiate Coastal Light, which produces a glow effective for humans but safe for sea turtles and other animals sensitive to white light. In compliance with International Dark Sky Association requirements, as well as the Florida-based company’s state wildlife standards, Coastal Light’s illumination does not attract sea life and provides a solution for legal compliance in the protection of sea turtles. The luminaire is available in various configurations and mountings. Quantum Total Light Management System Lutron The Quantum Total Light Management System unifies all lighting controls, automated window shades, sensors, digital ballasts, and LED drivers under one system. With new additions to the Quantum system, electric light and natural sunlight can be managed, mitigated, and monitored under a single software umbrella to optimize performance and reduce energy use. New control interfaces incorporate slider controls, architrave keypads, and software features like conditional logic, user access rights, and and iPad app. The system’s new features and components will be available this summer. Lumiblade Philips The Lumiblade system utilizes organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology for even, glare-free illumination on a razor thin fixture at .13-inches in thickness. As a fixture, the OLED Panel GL350 measures 4.9 inches on each side with up to a 200-lumen luminous flux suitable for commercial settings. The same OLED technology is also applied to the LivingSculture 3D Module System: The modular system arranges any number of 3-by-3-inch tiles along rods of varying heights to create a uniquely illuminated surface texture. Flatlight Luminaire PIXI Lighting The PIXI company debuted at Lighfair with its Flatlight Luminaire series, which utilizes the same LED technology found in high definition televisions to prevent glare, flicker, and hot spots. The fixture utilizes an internal power source that enables flush mounting on any vertical, horizontal, or angled surface. It can also be installed into T-grid ceilings or suspended as a pendant. At .55 inches thick, it’s available in a variety of rectilinear shapes, sizes, finishes, and color temperatures.
Norwegian/American firm Snøhetta has been enlisted by Temple University to design a new 350,000-square-foot library on the main campus in the northern section of Philadelphia. Craig Dykers, co-founder of the Oslo-based firm, will speak at the University during the 2013 Temple Architecture Week. Next City reported that Snøhetta has yet to release renderings, but they scored an interview with Dykers following his lecture at Temple, where he said "increasingly, universities are realizing that libraries can also be windows, gateways into the campus and immediately connected to the academic life of the place." (Photo: Courtesy Wikipedia.)
A few years ago Drexel University embarked on an ambitious plan to convert one of Philadelphia’s iconic postmodern landmarks by Venturi Scott Brown Associates (VSBA) into a new home for the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. Tonight the University will celebrate the official opening of its new building, dubbed the URBN Center, with a series of performances and demonstrations to showcase student work. Minneapolis-based Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle (MS&R) led the renovation of VSBA’s 3501 Market Street, formally the Institute of Scientific Information, and the adjacent building at 3401 Filbert Street (designed by Bower, Lewis & Thrower). Pritzker-winner Robert Venturi and his wife and partner, Denise Scott Brown, famously called their buildings “decorated sheds,” a phrase intended to reflect a design philosophy that spaces should adapt to a variety of uses—hence, making Drexel's decision to overhaul the interior of 3501 Market in keeping with the architecture duo’s original intent for the building. MS&R re-imagined the vast blank floor plan, but the firm was careful not to meddle with Venturi’s colorful mosaic facade. The firm radically changed the 140,000-square-foot facility—creating a dynamic maze of stairways and beams that spill into a number of different work spaces that house a music recording studio, a video game design lab, a printing studio, and a television broadcast production facility. Richard A. Hayne, a member of the board of trustees and the CEO of the Philadelphia-based brand Urban Outfitters, donated $25 million to Drexel to buy the building. The university raised the remaining $47 million to fund construction costs.
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), the agency overseeing the redevelopment of Philadelphia's Delaware River waterfront, has hired San Francisco-based Hargreaves Associates to redesign the ailing riverfront. Among the challenges the landscape architects will face is reconnecting the new park space with the surrounding city. Currently, the waterfront is disconnected by the large Interstate 95 and Columbus Boulevard, an expanse that can reach up to 1,200 feet wide, according to Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron. Hargreaves has won accolades for handling waterfronts and highways in Louisville, KY and Chattanooga, TN. According to Saffron, Hargreaves will study creating better connections between Market and South streets, but the DRWC has not asked for a study of burying or removing the highway, as local advocates had hoped. Hargreaves will examine improving pedestrian access at existing key points. Hargreaves principal Mary Margaret Jones told Saffron, that among the strategies she is pursuing is an extension to an existing highway cap with terraces outdoor rooms leading to Penn's Landing along the river, a new public space that would be the size of Rittenhouse Square. PlanPhilly reported that Jones is expected to be on the groung in Philadelphia this May to study the site's complex connectivity issues and elevation changes to better understand how a new waterfront could be engineered. Hargreaves' study is expected to take six to eight months and forthcoming concept plans will be later refined into designs that could feasibly be built. Joining Hargreaves' team are New York-based architects FXFOWLE, Guy Nordenson and Associates, KS Engineers, HR&A, RBA Group, Becker & Frondorf.
Four new affordable housing projects in Philadelphia will receive almost $1 million in grant money. Congressman Chaka Fattah announced last month that the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh’s Affordable Housing Program will provide grants of over $200,000 to sponsors of projects that are dedicated to housing veterans, homeless families, and the mentally ill. According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, FHL Bank will take new applicants for its grant program starting July 8th, and announce the winning sponsors for 2013 on December 19th. (Photo: Courtesy People’s Emergency Center)
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Southern Philadelphia High School has teamed up with Roofmeadow, a Philly-based green roof design and engineering firm, and the Lower Moyamensing Civic Association to bring the city its first rooftop farm in a new campus-wide plan to take the school from gray to green. The plan includes rain gardens, street trees, vegetable gardens, and a rooftop farm. These elements will be incorporated into a new curriculum for the school’s culinary and science departments, providing students with a chance to escape the classroom and engage in hands-on learning, while nearby residents will gain access to fresh produce and new green space. “South Philly High is on the cutting edge of sustainability and innovation,” said Kim Massare, President of the Lower Moyamensing Civic Association in a statement to greenroofs.com. “It is changing the way we think about what a school should be and using technology to drive change in a totally new direction.” The school is working with Roofmeadow and community representatives to develop the master plan, which targets large, underutilized properties on the school’s urban campus. The project will be crowdfunded through Projexity, an online platform that provides the support and framework for bottom-up neighborhood development projects, from creating proposals, to gathering funding, holding design competitions and getting the final approval necessary to move forward. The first of five stages of fundraising begins here on April 9th.