Foster + Partners Unveil 1,121-Foot Comcast Tower for Philadelphia

© dbox, Foster + Partners

Comcast Corporation and Liberty Property Trust has commissioned Foster + Partners to design a 59-story, $1.2 billion mixed-use tower planned to neighbor Comcast’s existing global headquarter in Philadelphia. The 1,121-foot glass and stainless steel building is expected to be the tallest in the , outside of New York and Chicago, and the largest private development project in the history of .

Experience Tyler Architecture

This thesis project explores the inherent irregularities of memory as a means of exploring design. (Eric Mayer, B Arch; Professor Sneha Patel)

Tyler Architecture at Temple University in focuses on design in the contexts of culture, technology, and stewardship of the built and natural environment. Its programs stress critical inquiry and innovation as part of the creative process, teaching students how to intervene in the physical world through carefully considered acts of making. 

The Department engages the city, exploring and addressing the ethical and social dimensions of architecture and the urban environment. Through this engagement, it seeks to develop an ethos of responsibility in the students, preparing them to become effective leaders in practices and discourses surrounding the complex global and local issues of our time.

More after the break.

A New Series Featuring Laurie Olin, Acclaimed Landscape Architect

YouTube Preview Image

The Cultural Landscape Foundation recently launched its newest documentary as part of the ongoing Oral History series, this time focusing on the ideas and career of , a recipient of the National Medal of the Arts and one of the greatest landscape architects of our time. Olin’s influential work as a practitioner, educator and author over the past forty years has helped to guide the future of landscape architecture and shape urban life around the world.

Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology / WEISS/MANFREDI

© Albert Večerka/Esto

Architects: WEISS/MANFREDI
Location: 3205 Walnut Street, University of Pennsylvania, , PA 19104,
Design Partners : Marion Weiss, FAIA and Michael A. Manfredi, FAIA
Project Manager: Todd Hoehn
Project Architects: Michael Harshman, AIA, Kimberly Nun, AIA, Ina Ko, AIA, and Michael Steiner, AIA, LEED-AP
Area: 78000.0 ft2
Year: 2013
Photographs: Albert Večerka/Esto

More Park, Less Way: Improving Philadelphia’s Parkway

© elPadawan

In this article in the Wall Street Journal, a number of key players discuss the ongoing work to transform ”the most elegant urban boulevard in the US”, Philadelphia‘s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The parkway has been on a long journey from boulevard to highway, and thanks to a new plan entitled “More Park, Less Way”, it could be on its way back, with a variety of plans to change the Parkway into a vibrant, more densely populated series of spaces with more amenities for local residents. You can read the full article here.

Preservation: Not for Facades Only

Image © G. Widman, via VisitPhilly.com

stirring piece by the  Inquirer Architecture Critic, Inga Saffron, calls for the preservation—both inside and out—of architecture under threat by “warp-speed gentrification.” Saffron uses as her examples two traditionally black, historic event halls, the Royal Theater and the Blue Horizon, that are “now controlled by developers who would gut their innards and insert soulless structures behind the thin veneer of their facades, a parking garage in the case of the Blue Horizon. That would leave the public with the equivalent of a cardboard cutout of the once-glamorous venues, perfect for photo-ops but lacking in architectural flesh and blood.” The article is a spirited call to preserve not just facades, but also the inner life of architecture: what, according to Saffron, makes a building vibrant and preservation-worthy in the first place.

Five Crescent Drive / Robert A.M. Stern Architects

Francis Dzikowski / Esto for , LLP

Architects: Robert A.M. Stern Architects
Location: Crescent Drive, , PA 19112, USA
Area: 208000.0 ft2
Year: 2013
Photographs: Courtesy of Robert A.M. Stern Architects

What Cities Can Do with Vacant Lots

Glenwood Green Acres; © Tony Fischer Photography

The bursting of the housing bubble wreaked havoc on cities across the causing widespread blight in once-thriving community economies.  Foreclosed, abandoned and condemned homes continue to pockmark neighborhoods and communities, adding to the 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. 

A “High Line” Makeover for A Former Railroad in Philly?

The unused Reading Railroad, in Philadelphia.

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).

You can learn more about this project at the Above, Below, Beyond Web Site and Facebook Page

and UPenn Design Students share what they would do with the Reading Railroad.
View looking North from 12th and Vine on the Reading Railroad.

205 Race Street / Peter Gluck & Partners

© Gluck & Partners

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 ’ latest project for 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.

The Drexel University Daskalakis Athletic Center / Sasaki Associates

© Halkin Photography

Architects: Sasaki Associates
Location: , PA, USA
Design Team: David Dymecki, Pablo Savid-Buteler, Nancy Freedman, Gerry Gutierrez, Sal Canciello, Dan Dwyer, Mette Aamodt, Elke Berger, Mark Delaney
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Halkin Photography, Robert Benson

The Barnes Foundation / Tod Williams + Billie Tsien

Looking south east at night. The Barnes Foundation . © 2012 Tom Crane

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, 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. 

Temple University, Tyler School of Art, Architecture Department 2012 Spring Lecture Series

Courtesy of , Tyler School of Art, Architecture Department

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.

PennDesign 2012 Spring Lecture Series

Courtesy of University of School of Design

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.

AD Classics: Esherick House / Louis Kahn

© Ludvík Koutný

An architect celebrated for his breathtaking studies of light and materiality in the creation of memorable architecture,  did not fail to maintain his rigor in the Esherick House of , Pennsylvania.

Admired for it’s spatial and luminous qualities, this is the first residence of its kind to convey the grand ideas of Kahn-style architecture. The two story dwelling, which is one of only nine private houses designed by Kahn to come into realization, rests on a lively six acre garden.

More information on the Esherick House after the break.

The Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School / SMP Architects and SRK Architects

© Halkin Photography LLC

Architects: SMP Architects and SRK Architects
Location: , PA,
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.

Sustainable Urban Science Center / SMP Architects

© Halkin Photography

Architects: SMP Architects
Location: , , USA
Project Team: Susan Maxman, David Ade, Scott Ritchie, Amy Owen
Client: Germantown Friends School
Project Year: 2009
Project Area: 16,400 sqf
Photographs: Halkin Photography LLC.

Seismic Considerations in New York City and Washington DC

Courtesy of Washington National Cathedral (1)
Courtesy of Washington National Cathedral

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, , 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 (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.

Courtesy of Washington National Cathedral (2) Courtesy of Washington National Cathedral (14) Courtesy of Washington National Cathedral (12) Courtesy of Washington National Cathedral (10)