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.
Posts tagged with "Philadelphia":
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.
The Philadelphia Zoo, squeezed between heavily trafficked arteries in Fairmount Park, isn’t the easiest place to access by rail service, and with a dip in attendance in the last few years, Zoo officials are pushing for a new SEPTA train station at 34th Street and Mantua Avenue. When the zoo first opened in 1854, there was a train station located right at the entrance, but it closed in 1902 when the Pennsylvania railroad expanded, complicating the public transit options. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that architect Robert P. Thomas, along with other city planners, have put together a new rail feasibility study for the zoo. The $60 million project would entail building rail platforms, relocating tracks, and completing some environmental work. SEPTA officials have already indicated that they would not be able to provide any funding for this project, which means that the Zoo would need to look to the federal government for support. Beyond expanding rail service, the Zoo is opening a new 683-space parking garage this week. This is one of several measures that Zoo officials are taking to mitigate congestion and to make the zoo more accessible to visitors in addition to implementing new traffic signals and pedestrian crossways.
After a Foxwoods casino went bust in Philadelphia, an elusive casino license has been up for grabs, and proposals for a new facility have been pouring in over the Philly region. Six developers are competing for the city’s second casino license, and two of the proposals are betting on Downtown. Curbed reported that while the majority of the proposed developments are planned for the outer edges of Philly, two proposals intend on building right in the heart of the city. One developer, Blatstein Group, has proposed a colossal $700 million French Baroque-inspired casino, aptly dubbed The Provence, which will take over a sizeable portion of downtown—eight city blocks—at Broad and Callowhill streets, repurposing the former Inquirer and Daily News Tower and building a hotel, retail, entertainment venues, restaurants, and Versailles-style gardens on the roof. A second proposal called Market 8, located at Market and 8th streets on the site of a surface parking lot, appears to be less kitchy and theme-driven than its competitor, but would be equally as sprawling with 100,000-square feet of gaming, eight signature restaurants, concert venue, and hotel. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is evaluating the proposals and is expected to make a decision later this year, but as Philadelphia Enquirer Architecture Critic Inga Saffron warned last year, "As Philadelphia knows too well, developers seeking casino licenses start by trotting out gauzy renderings of Paris, France, but end up building something more like Paris, Texas." It remains to be seen whether the two flashy urban proposals will bring real value to Philly. The other regional contenders include Casino Revolution, Live! Hotel and Casino, Hollywood Casino Philadelphia, and Wynn Philadelphia.
It has been a rough few months for modernist civic buildings. First, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks denied Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital landmark status, and then came the demolition of Richard Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama, and now the future of The Roundhouse, Philadelphia’s Police Headquarters, hangs in the balance. Last week, during his budget address, Mayor Nutter brought to light the city’s plan to renovate the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Building at 4601 Market Street and turn it into the new police headquarters (to be shared with the City Morgue and the Health Center). Nutter said that the move would mean selling the Roundhouse, along with several other municipal buildings. PlanPhilly reported that the city would pay for the renovation of 4601 Market Street with long-term borrowing, but the costs of the project “would be offset by the sale of the three would-be surplus municipal properties.” The Roundhouse—designed by architectural firm, Geddes, Brecher, Qualls, and Cunningham (GBQC)—is constructed of structural pre-cast panels and was awarded the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal Award for Best Philadelphia Architecture in 1963. Right now, graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Historic Preservation Graduate Program have teamed up with Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture to come up with different reuse strategies for the Roundhouse. Two graduate students at UPenn, Kimber VanSant and Allee Berger, have launched a campaign, Save the Roundhouse, on Facebook. VanSant and Berger point out that in the Philadelphia City Planning Commission’s “In Progress” Philadelphia 2035 plan for the Franklin Square Neighborhood, the Roundhouse is labeled as “Likely for Redevelopment” or referred to as “Police HQ lot,” which indicates that the Roundhouse building might not factor into the overall redevelopment of the area. Berger and VanSant plan on pursuing landmark status for the building, but fear that with a backlog of nominations waiting for approval at the Philadelphia Historical Commission, time might run out before the city’s development gets underway. The two preservationists are also concerned that city officials have misrepresented the condition of the building. “Through the campaign, we’re trying to make it clear that the building is in excellent shape and a great candidate for reuse,” said VanSant. VanSant and Berger said that the next steps will be centered around public engagement, speaking with developers, and eventually forming a coalition with local preservation and modernism groups. “This building is a physical vestige of when Philly was really going through some transformative changes in the late 1960s. There were a lot of urban renewal campaigns going on at the time. It was a very pivotal time for the city,” said Berger. “The building is a tour de force of architectural engineering.”