LocationPhiladelphia, PA, United States
Architect in ChargeBrian Phillips, AIA, LEED AP
Text description provided by the architects. As marginalized urban areas transition into desirable neighborhoods, seemingly problematic contextual elements like adjacent vacant land and elevated railroads can be treated as productive design constraints. Historically a divider, the elevated train line running along Front Street in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood is becoming an attractor for new retail and nightlife.
This 6-unit apartment building shifts program to the long edge of a narrow site along the busy Frankford-Market elevated Blue Line in East Kensington, creating an interior façade facing an adjacent vacant parcel. A ground floor commercial space faces Front Street, activating the urban edge under the El.
As a reaction to the owner’s concern about living directly adjacent to the elevated train, the project emphasized an intimacy with the railroad that looked to turn a liability into a surprisingly novel asset.
With a roofline that connects the dots of a quirky zoning envelope, the elevation juxtaposes housing above with a storefront tucked underneath the elevated train line. The north-facing blank property line facade creates an opportunity for art and signage oriented toward viewers riding south on the train.