The bursting of the housing bubble wreaked havoc on cities across the United States causing widespread blight in once-thriving community economies. Foreclosed, abandoned and condemned homes continue to pockmark neighborhoods and communities, adding to the vacant lots of populous but affected cities like Philadelphia. The Mayor’s Office of Philadelphia approximates that there are nearly 40,000 vacant lots throughout the city of brotherly love, about 74% of which are privately owned, making them virtually inaccessible to rehabilitation. But the city has a strong drive to amend these conditions. With organizations like DesignPhiladelphia’s “Not a Vacant Lot” and the city’s Redevelopment Authority, some of this land is being put to good use.
From a park in a forgotten metro station to a human-sized “LEGO” bridge (see our post: The 4 Coolest “High Line” Inspired Projects), the massive success of New York City‘s High Line continues to inspire citizens across the globe to see their city’s forgotten spaces with new eyes – as opportunities for action.
The latest vision comes from a trio of plucky Landscape Architect Grads. Today, from 6-10 at Next American City‘s Storefront for Urban Innovation in Philadelphia, they’ll show what they would do with the unused, over-grown railroad (a.k.a the Reading Railroad, of Monopoly board fame) that at points dips under and peeks over the city.
The grads are hoping that the exhibit, called “Above, Below, Beyond: Futures for a Former Railroad,” will stir up debate and maybe even some action (which is highly likely, seeing as two other groups also have hopes for the spot, the Reading Viaduct Project and VIADUCTgreene). If you’re inspired but aren’t in Philly, you can contribute to their Kickstarter Campaign to help them offset exhibition costs (as of press time, they’re less than $2,000 short of their goal, with 5 days to go).
Presented with the chance to make an impact on an urban skyline can be one of the most exciting opportunities for an architect, albeit one of the most stressful. For, as much as we are driven by the project’s potential prominence, its soon-to-be visibility brings with it heavy criticism and concerns- and, rightly so.
Such is the case with Peter Gluck & Partners’ latest project for Philadelphia, 205 Race Street. Situated on the border of the Old City, the 16 story residential building has sparked debate due to its 197’6″ height – a marker that far surpasses the historic district’s height limit of 65′. Yet, the building’s positioning - immediately adjacent to the Ben Franklin Bridge and PATCO train lines – demands an architectural strategy that can remedy the site’s vastly different edge conditions.
More after the break.
Last year, The Barnes Foundation - Albert Barnes collection of French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern paintings and horticulture – began its move from its original location in Merion, Pennsylvania to a new building designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien in Philadelphia. Close to five years in the making, the “Gallery in a Garden” Barnes Foundation Building officially opened on May 19, 2012. The design was predicated on the arrangement of the galleries within the original building and a desire to invite new programs into the scheme, such as a garden and classrooms.
Continue reading to learn more.
The 2012 Spring Lecture Series, put on by the architecture department at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art is currently in progress until April 18th. Upcoming lectures include Iain Low, ‘Architecture Week’, in celebration of the new building for the architecture department, featuring Daniel Kelley and Skip Graffam, Timothy McDonald, and will conclude with Pedro Gadanho. For more information on the lectures, including specific dates, times, and locations, please visit here. The lecture poster can be viewed after the break.
Just last month, University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design announced their lecture series for Spring 2012. All lectures are held at 6PM in Meyerson Hall and free and open to the public unless otherwise noted with continuing education credits available. The series began on January 17th and concludes on April 28th. More information on the upcoming events after the break.
Architects: SMP Architects and SRK Architects
Location: Philadelphia, PA, USA
Developer: AP/BSI, a joint venture
Project Team: SMP Architects: Jane Rath, Jennifer Grafton, Scott Ritchie, Keith Simon; SRK Architects: Vincent Rivera, Craig Slater and Jovanny Ramos
Client: School District of Philadelphia
Project Area: 88,500 SF
Project Date: 2010
Photographs: Halkin Photography LLC.
The U.S.G.S. recently reported that an earthquake struck the Washington, D.C. area with a preliminary magnitude of 5.8 (later updated to 5.9). Initial reports of damage are minor however the National Cathedral’s central tower sustained some damage. “It looks like three of the pinnacles have broken off the central tower,” spokesman Richard Weinberg said of the tower, the highest point in Washington, D.C.
Update: The Cathedral has sustained some substantial damage due to the earthquake, and experts are currently assessing the structural and aesthetic damage. For a video of the Cathedral damage, or to help join the efforts of preserving the Cathedral click here.
Update: You can also see the effects of the earthquake on a building in Virginia here.
Felt in Philadelphia, North Carolina, Boston, New York City, Martha’s Vineyard, and even Wheeling, West Virginia, the tremor raises questions of the importance of seismic considerations particularly in New York City.
Although earthquakes are not something a typical New Yorker would have cross their mind in comparison to other parts of the world such as Japan (8.9 magnitude in 2011) and Chile (8.8 magnitude in 2010), the overal size and density of NYC puts it at a high risk for extensive damage.
More photographs of the Washington National Cathedral and discussion regarding seismic considerations following the break.
This impressive, LEED-certified, fifty-six-story office tower is Philadelphia’s newest and tallest. The Comcast Center’s stateliness and elegance are carried through to OLIN’s plaza at its base. However, the plaza is more than merely a suitable platform for the building—it is a vibrant, well-used, civic space, wholly connected to the city. It serves as a new destination for residents and workers, and as a principal entry to the regional rail lines, markets, and food court located beneath the site. The plaza elements are conceived as a series of vertical and horizontal layers.
Landscape Architect: OLIN
Architect: Robert A.M. Stern Architects
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Project Team: Lucinda Sanders, FASLA, Yue Li
Consultants: Atelier Ten, Ballinger, Bartlett Tree Experts, Jonathan Borofsky, Kendall/Heaton Associates,
L.F. Driscoll Company, Lynch & Associates Ltd., Nancy Rosen, Parker Interior Plantscape, Paul H. Yeomans, Pennoni Associates, Quentin Thomas Associates, Thornton Tomasetti Group, Two Twelve Associates, WET Design
Project Area: 2 acres
The last chance to see the Barnes Foundation’s artwork in its original setting has passed. It is now being prepared for the move to its new home in downtown Philadelphia. Architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien designed the new building for the Barnes Foundation with respect for its strong history and as a reflective addition of the foundation’s mission. The building is scheduled for completion in late 2011. More after the break.
Architect: Erdy McHenry Architecture
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Structural Engineer: The Harman Group
Mechanical Engineer: PHY Consulting Engineers
Civil Engineer: Pennoni Associates, Inc.
General Contractor: Intech Construction
Project Area: 170,000sqf
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Peter Kubilus, Roger Swingle, Tommy Holt
The OLIN team’s award-winning submission to the Living City Design Competition responded to ambitious standards of sustainable development within the historically rich yet socially and ecologically underserved neighborhoods of Brewerytown and North Central in Philadelphia. Working closely with architects and urban planners Digsau and Interface Studio, OLIN explored how sustainable design can be implemented within an existing urban framework by utilizing local resources, community engagement, and respect for the vernacular culture and architecture.
The Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects is the latest project in the ongoing partnership between PENN Medicine and Rafael Vinoly Architects. Today officially marks the completion of the transplant house, which is named after the physician who performed the first kidney transplant at the University of Pennsylvania in 1966. The building will offer comfortable, convenient accommodations in a supportive community setting and at a nominal cost.
A conceptual proposal for the retrofit of an old grain silo in Center City Philadelphia, Interface Studio Architects aims to integrate an existing, vacant structure into an urban, mixed-use project. Additionally, it raises interesting questions about old building reuse and innovative tactics for sustainability. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Ann Beha Architects designed the award-winning Music Building at the University of Pennsylvania. The project consolidates distributed academic resources; revitalizes a prominent 19th century landmark; provides new community spaces for faculty and students, and serves as a model for the compatibility of historic and contemporary design expression. As the campus’ first LEED Gold building, this project demonstrates that preservation, new design, and program can together produce a sustainable result.
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 Philadelphia.
Architect: Onion Flats (Plumbob Llc)
Location: 636 Belgrade St. Fishtown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 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