Jackhammer / Onion Flats

© Tim McDonald

Formerly a convenience store and significant loitering/drug dealing corner property, Onion Flats said, neighbors seemed pleased when it caught on fire and was demolished in 2005. Onion Flats felt it was important to restore the life and sense of community to this small but unique corner of Fishtown. Their design has become the first LEED-H Gold Residential/Commercial live/work space in the City of .

Architect: Onion Flats (Plumbob Llc)
Location: 636 Belgrade St. Fishtown, Philadelphia, , USA
Project Team: Kurt Schlenbaker, Tim McDonald, Howard Steinberg
Owner / Developer: Onion Flats
Green Roof & Rainwater Harvesting: G.R.A.S.S. (Green Roots And Solar Systems)
General Contractor: JIG Inc (Project Manager Kurt Schlenbaker)
LEED Rater: Magrann Associates (Sam Klein)
Project Year: 2007
Photographs: Tim McDonald

Capital Flats / Onion Flats

© Tim McDonald

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. change all that. This once dilapidated site is now home to 8 dwellings that are rich in both history and innovative design.

Architect: Onion Flats
Location: 114-150 W. Laurel St., Northern Liberties, , Pennsylvania
Developer/Builder: Onion Flats
Photographs: Tim McDonald

Thin Flats / Onion Flats

© Mariko Reed

This eight unit residential project explores the highly efficient and architecturally latent potentials hidden within the traditional form of the “Row” home. The vertical rhythm, regularity yet diversity of this most prevalent residential urban typology was the primary source of inspiration for this experiment. Thin faces fronting both Laurel and Pollard Streets mask and blur conventional lines of demarcation between all eight duplex dwellings both vertically and horizontally. In the process, a degree of density yet expansiveness uncommon to the thin space of the urban duplex emerges. The “Row” is by nature a long, thin slice of dense, sustainable, urban space, typically ‘light-deficient’ and insular at its core. Thin Flats questions this traditional ‘deficiency’ by spatially reconfiguring the relationship between the interior and it’s skin such that its ‘core’ is flooded with light and air. This skin also affords each room on the ‘periphery’ of the dwelling the ability to step outside, and yet remain within the skin. This project also is unique by being the first LEED-H Platinum duplex residences in the USA.

Architect: Onion Flats (Plumbob Llc)
Location: 145-151 Laurel St. Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, , USA
Project Team: Tim McDonald, Howard Steinberg, Jim Sanderson
Owner / Developer: Onion Flats
Structural Engineer: Associated Engineering Consultants Inc.
Green Roof & Rainwater Harvesting: G.R.A.S.S. (Green Roots And Solar Systems)
General Contractor: JIG Inc (Project Manager Kurt Schlenbaker)
LEED Rater: Magrann Associates (Sam Klein)
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Mariko Reed, Sam Oberter, Tim McDonald

Margarido House / Onion Flats

© Mariko Reed

This single family home in the hills of Oakland, CA, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and all of San Francisco, is designed to merge comfortably into it’s difficult and steeply sloped site. It is also meant to provide a tranquil yet inspiring setting for a young couple, their two children and their aging in-laws. The physical site offered the project its greatest challenge and direction. It’s 17% slope coupled with height restrictions and adjacencies to neighboring homes required that the building be “bunkered” into the landscape. This became the source of the project’s programmatic, spatial and architectural strategy, which is centered around the entry or “knuckle” of the building.

Architect: Onion Flats (Plumbob Llc)
Location: Oakland, ,
Owner / Developer: Mike McDonald (McDonald Construction & Development Inc.)
Interior Design & Construction Administration: Medium Plenty (Ian Read)
Structural Engineer: St. Onge & Associates
Green Roof & Rainwater Harvesting: G.R.A.S.S. (Green Roots And Solar Systems)
General Contractor: McDonald Construction & Development Inc.
Photographs: Mariko Reed

Rag Flats / Onion Flats

© Raimond Koch

We were first introduced to Onion Flats by you, our readers. After posting our Architecture City Guide to Philadelphia we received numerous comments suggesting that ’s work should be among the cannot miss list if you visit . We certainly agree. We chose to showcase their project Rag Flats first, but we will bring you more of their work in the coming days. Rag Flats is an experiment in and a critique of sustainable forms of urban dwelling. The former industrial rag factory has been re-conceptualized as a residential garden community created by prototypical forms of dwellings commonly found in : the row house, the trinity, the loft, and the pavilion. Rag Flats intentionally explores the necessary relationships between density, intimacy, and privacy in any urban community. Rag Flats was a collaborative design/build project.

More on this project after the break!

Architect: Onion Flats
Location: 1338-52 E. Berks St., Fishtown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Developer/Builder: Onion Flats
Project Year: 2006
Photographs: Courtesy of Onion Flats