Translational Research Center / Rafael Viñoly Architects

. Photographed by Brad Feinknopf

Rafael Viñoly Architects [RVA] has just shared the opening of their Translational Research Center at Penn in with us.   The project, which is part of a larger master plan for Penn Medicine, accommodates research facilities and clinical functions allowing the practices of scientific investigation and patient care to inform one another through close proximity.  Building upon an existing structure, RVA’s addition contributes a functionally organized facility while respecting the spirit and urban character of the Perelman Center.

More about the project and more images after the break.

SEI Investments Corporate Headquarters / Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle

© Lara Swimmer

SEI Investments, Inc., a banking and financial software services firm with operations worldwide, commissioned Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle to develop and implement a multi-phase master plan for their 90-acre site located outside Philadelphia. Master planned for 650,000 square feet, SEI Investment’s is designed to maximize employee environmental benefits, increase productivity, and eliminate about $1 million per year in operational costs. For five consecutive years, SEI has been named one of Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For in America.” In addition to general statistics regarding employees, jobs, and management, the company was recognized for its family center, egalitarian culture, and beautiful grounds.

Architects: Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle
Location: , Pennsylvania, USA
Photographs: Lara Swimmer

In Progress: Butterfly House / davidclovers


In search of the origins of architecture, Laugier presented a primitive hut using the three basic elements of architecture – the post, the lintel and the gable. Semper’s pursuit of the origin resulted in a primitive dwelling that was comprised of four basic qualities – earthwork, hearth, framework/roof, and enclosing membrane. While Laugier’s list of basic elements stemmed from the obsession with disciplinary origins, Semper‘s meditations were a vehicle to essentialize that which was previously seen as superfluous, namely the building enclosure. Semper wanted to put ornament to work. Butterfly House is an exercise in re-working three ubiquitous elements – window, door and roof – until they exceed their functional value and lead the way to new architectural effects. Butterfly House builds upon Laugier’s primitive hut as a model of fitness, updated to reflect a post-bubble economic climate rather than mythical origins, as well as Semper’s interest in the productive capacity of the apparently unnecessary. Our conceptual hut uses a limited quantity of elements to solicit rich qualities and characteristics and uncovers a zone of enchantment between the essential and the excessive.

Architect: davidclovers
Location: Wayne County, Pennsylvania,
Project Area: 1,000 sqf
Expected Completion: Fall 2011

Gates Center for Computer Science and Hillman Center for Future Generation Technologies / Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects

© Timothy Hursley

The Gates Center for Computer Science will complete a computer science complex on Carnegie Mellon University’s west campus. The building will house the three departments of the School of Computer Science providing offices, conference rooms, open collaborative spaces, closed project rooms and a reading room for more than one hundred and twenty faculty, three hundred and fifty graduate students, one hundred researchers or postdoctoral fellows and fifty administrative staff members along with a more public component of ten University classrooms, a two hundred and fifty seat auditorium, a café and two University computer clusters.

Architect: Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects
Location: , Pennsylvania, USA
Project Area: 208,000 sqf
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Timothy Hursley,

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 -H Gold Residential/Commercial live/work space in the City of Philadelphia.

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

Bethlehem Steel Brownfield Site Becomes a New Performing Arts Center


Situated on the former Steel brownfield site the newly designed ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks has transformed an industrial site and inspired a community. A unique hybrid project of old and new, the building’s 67,000 sqf will feature a 450-seat venue for live performances and a two-screen state of the art cinema.

“The design grew from the profoundly meaningful history of place here,” said Joseph N. Biondo AIA, Spillman Farmer Architects‘ Design Principal. “The Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces are iconic – they are America’s historic ruins. The arts center is deeply inspired by this former industrial site and the lives that were lived here.  We wanted the building to make a compelling statement about the future of the arts and community here in Bethlehem. This project evolved from the energy generated by the friction of past and future, the human spirit that fueled the American industrial revolution, and the elegance of a finely crafted music box.”

The new Performing Arts Center by Spillman Farmer Architects will host a special dedication ceremony tomorrow Thursday, April 14th.

A video and further construction photographs of this project following the break.

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, Philadelphia,
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

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 Onion Flats’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, , USA
Developer/Builder: Onion Flats
Project Year: 2006
Photographs: Courtesy of Onion Flats

Cherry Hill Mall Renovation and Expansion / JPRA Architects

Courtesy of

The complete renaissance of Cherry Hill Mall has repositioned the center as an elegant, contemporary classic shopping/dining experience. Prior to the renovation, the Owner, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) recognized that while strong customer demographics existed, many were driving by the center to shop at competing developments. With the potential addition of a Nordstrom department store, the need for a major repositioning of the center was appropriate. As a result, the comprehensive renovation of the development included the addition of a 138,000 sqf Nordstrom, an additional 62,000 sqf of two-level mall GLA, a new multi-level parking structure, and the complete renewal of the interior mall, all while the center remained in full operation.

More after the break.

Architect: JPRA Architects
Location: 200 South Broad Street, , Pennsylvania, USA
Contractor: Torcon Inc.
Structural Engineer: Shenberger & Associates
Mechanical and Plumbing Engineer: E&S Construction Engineers, Inc.
Electrical Engineer: Stern & Associates, Inc.
Lighting Design: Grenald Waldron Associates
Landscape Architect: Mesa Design Group
Code & Life Safety Consultants: Code Consultants, Inc
Parking Deck Consultant: Walker Parking Consultants
Civil Engineer: CMX
Project Area: 200,000 sqf
Photographs: Matt Wargo Photography, Jay Rosenblatt Photography & Visual Communications, Inc.

Pennsylvania Convention Center / tvsdesign

Courtesy of

This project by tvsdesign is an addition to and rehabilitation of Philadelphia’s historic 1893 Reading Train Shed. As the centerpiece of the Convention Center, the terminal building, Grand Hall, meeting rooms, ballroom and farmer’s market will be joined by a new modern convention center that weaves the style, scale and rhythm of the historic Philadelphia architecture with the new addition.

More on this project after the break.

University of Pennsylvania School of Design 2011 Spring Lecture Series

University of Pennsylvania School of Design boasts one of the Top 10 Graduate Architecture Schools in the United States. This month their Spring Lecture Series, More and More, is hosting Qingyun Ma (M.Arch), dean of the USC School of Architecture. This event is free and open to the public and PennDesign is a registered provider of continuing education programming for the American Institute of Architects.

Qingyun Ma has been called one of “the 27 most influential designers making an impact on business today.” Ma is considered to be among the most exciting contemporary Chinese architects, first receiving international attention as coordinator of Rem Koolhaas’ first Harvard Project on Cities and subsequent book, The Great Leap Forward.

His work has been exhibited around the world, earning him honors including a Design Vanguard award from Architectural Record, Phaidon’s Emerging Design Talents designation and a New Trends of Architecture designation by the Euro-Asia Foundation.

Wednesday, March 16
Qingyun Ma
MORE AND MORE – 2011 Spring Lecture Series
6:00pm – 7:30pm, Meyerson Hall, B3

Other events this month for the Architecture Department:

Tuesday, March 22
Urbanism II
6pm, Meyerson Lower Gallery

Thursday, March 24
Armand Grüntuch & Almut Ernst, Grüntuch Ernst
6:30pm, Meyerson B3

Monday, March 28
Karim Rashid
IPD, sponsored by the IPD Lecture Fund and Lisa Roberts and David Seltzer
6pm, Meyerson B1

Camp JRF Eco-Village / Metcalfe Architecture & Design

Courtesy of

The Camp JRF Eco-Village is situated in the Pocono Mountains just up a hill from the existing Jewish Reconstructionist summer camp. The new village will be for older adolescent firl and boy campers and be composed of yurt cabins and sheltered by colorful canopies. The yurts will sit upon platforms, adjacent to a program building for gatherings, bathhouses, and an earthen berm for stargazing. Metcalfe Architecture & Design has been working closely with Camp JRF to provide a design that is focused on creating social spaces for campers and staff to meet and enjoy their lives together at summer camp. The Camp JRF Eco-Village anticipates to break ground this coming summer.

Liberty Medical Center / Front Studio Architects

© Ed Massery

Designed by Front Studio Architects, the Liberty Medical Center, a 20,000 sqf, 4-story medical office building on Liberty Avenue, brings a strong presence to the street that engages both users and observers of the architecture.  The architects carefully considered how this new construction could become a link between the existing varying scales within the neighborhood.  Follow the break for more photographs of this design.

Architects: Front Studio Architects
Location: , Pennsylvania, USA
Client: Albanese Properties
Contractor: MM Marra Construction
Project Area: 20,000 sqf
Completed: 2009
Photographs: Ed Massery

Glass Lofts / Front Studio Architects

© Ed Massery

Commissioned by the Friendship Development Associates (FDA) as a central player in its community revitalization program, the Glass Lofts are a new mixed-use construction consisting of 39,000 sqf artist’s work spaces, 18 loft condominiums, retail and restaurant space, FDA offices and a flexible-use community space. Located at the center of the Penn Avenue Arts District, the Glass Lofts is the result of a community-driven planning process actively involving neighborhood residents, artists and business owners in the development of the project.

Follow the break for more photographs and drawings of the Glass Lofts by Front Studio Architects.

Architects: Front Studio Architects
Location: Pittsburgh, , USA
Client: Friendship Development Associates
Contractor: Sota Construction Services, Inc
Project Area: 39,000 sqf
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Ed Massery

Urban Biophillic Pavilion / studio d’ARC

© Ed Massery

The urban biophillic pavilion, designed by studio d’ARC, is located atop a nineteenth century row house in , Pennsylvania.  The pavilion is a reconstruction of a rooftop greenhouse originally built in 1978.  The new pavilion serves as both a garden and common room with indoor and outdoor areas including deck platforms with spectacular views.  More photographs and drawings following the break.

Architects: studio d’ARC architects, P.C.
Location: 1618 Roland Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
Principal & Designer: Gerard Damiani, AIA
Engineering: Churches Consulting Engineers
HVAC: Tudi Mechanical Systems, Inc.
Roofing: Kenyon Roofing and Aluminum Co.
Structural Elements/Systems: Zottola Fab
Contractor: Sota Construction Services, Inc.
Client: Jan Hamilton-Sota and Ernie Sota
Project Area: 576 sqf
Photographs: Massery Photography, Inc.

Morris Arboretum Tree Adventure / Metcalfe Architecture & Design

© Paul Warchol

Morris Arboretum’s Tree Adventure exhibit Out on a Limb, designed by , was the 2010 AIA Philadelphia Design Excellence Gold Medal Winner, 2010 AIA Pennsylvania Architectural Excellence Award, 2010 “Best of Philly” Award, and the 2010 American Association of Museums Excellence in Exhibition Design Award. Suspended 50 feet above the forest floor this network of walkways (450-feet in length) provides a bird’s eye view of the forest, complete with a giant Bird’s Nest, Squirrel Scramble rope, and many vista platforms.

Follow the break for photographs, drawings, and renderings of Out on a Limb.

Architects: Metcalfe Architecture & Design
Location: , Pennsylvania, USA
Consultant: Forever Young Treehouse, Inc
Structural Engineers: CVM Engineering
Construction Managers: CVM Construction
Civil Engineers: Hunt Engineering Company
Lighting Designers: Grenald Waldron Associates
Exhibit Designers: Sparks Exhibits and Environments
Photographs: Paul Warchol

Urban Outfitters Corporate Campus / Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle

© Lara Swimmer Photography

Urban Outfitters , designed by Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle transformed four dilapidated historic buildings in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard, into an award winning adaptive reuse headquarters.  The Anthropologie, Free People, and Urban Outfitters retail brands’ design studios and offices are housed within each building. A campus commons and services’ offices are efficiently shared among the different divisions of the company.  This project received a 2010 AIA Honor Award for Architecture.

Follow the break for a video discussing the site and design featuring Urban Outfitters, Inc company founder Dick Hayne. More photographs, drawings, and project description after the break as well.

Architects: Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd.
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Principal-in-Charge: Jeffrey Scherer, FAIA
Project Manager: Josh Stowers, AIA, AP
Interior Designer: Leanne Larson, CID, IIDA, LEED AP
Client: Urban Outfitters, Inc
Total construction cost: $100 million
Project Area: 285,000 sqf
Project Year: 2006
Photographer: Lara Swimmer Photography