Architects: Onion Flats
Location: 114 West Laurel Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123, USA
Developer/Builder: Onion Flats
Photographs: Tim McDonald
From the architect. In 1999 Capital Meats, the former meat-packing plant which operated on this site for 80 years, was a sprawling mass of ravaged, collapsing, and abandoned buildings situated in the middle of a predominantly residential neighborhood. Onion Flats change all that. This once dilapidated site is now home to 8 dwellings that are rich in both history and innovative design.
Close to the water, this particular section of Northern Liberties is one of the last vestiges of the neighborhood’s rich fabric of industrial and residential commingled communities. The scale of the collection of the Capital Meats buildings (originally seven in total) tells a familiar story of a neighborhood industry, which employed the neighborhood. Since 1989 when Capital Meats closed, the site had been the source of numerous fires, break-ins, vandalism, and illicit encounters. “When Onion Flats walked through the building in 1999, they saw the burned-out shell of a windowless cooler with collapsing floors, potential environmental nightmares, and death. Underneath all of this, however, they also saw a place of strength, light, and life.”