That House Out There: Modern with a Classical Accent in Queen Village

617 S. American St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19147 | TREND Images from Keller Williams Center City

617 S. American St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19147 | TREND Images from Keller Williams Center City

The beautiful thing about Postmodernism is it allows you to mix and match periods and styles to your liking. Usually, the standard pairing is the insertion of Modernist furnishings and design elements into fusty old classical interiors, sometime with a nudge and a wink.

This home in Queen Village does the reverse: it’s a starkly Modernist home that has been outfitted with traditional design elements of the kind you might see in Architectural Digest. The effect is, dare we say it, rather refreshing. Read more »

First-Time Find: A Place to Park Yourself in Belmont Hills

Living-dining room

19 Rock Hil Rd. #6A, Bala Cynwyd, Pa. 19004 | TREND Images from BHHS Fox & Roach

The purpose of this weekly feature is to showcase outstanding properties first-time buyers can afford. So far, we’ve shown a compact but comfortable home in a great school district in Queen Village and an absolute knockout in Fishtown. So we got to wondering: Can we find anything like these on the Main Line?

It turns out that we could. The difference is, this place has plenty of neighbors already built in.

That’s because it’s a recently refreshed condo in The Greenhouse, a handsome 1970s multi-unit building in bosky Belmont Hills. Read more »

Best Places to Live? Start With Chesterbrook

Chesterbrook, the master planned community in Tredyffrin Township, was rated the eighth-best place to live in America by Niche.com this year. | Photo: Nick Vandekar, Long & Foster Real Estate

Chesterbrook, the master planned community in Tredyffrin Township, was rated the eighth-best place to live in America by Niche.com this year. | Photo: Nick Vandekar, Long & Foster Real Estate

What’s the best place to live in Greater Philadephia? According to Niche.com, that honor belongs to Chesterbrook, the eighth-best place to live in the country.

But it’s not the best place to live in Pennsylvania. That honor went to the Centre County community of College Township, which ranked one notch above Chesterbrook.

The two communities scored at the top of the heap in Niche.com’s 2016 “Best Places to Live in America” rankings, which rate the top 100 communities in the nation and in each state. Read more »

A Louis Kahn Icon in Chestnut Hill Wins National Preservation Award

Margaret Esherick House

The restored Wharton Esherick House shows its photogenic side to Chestnut Hill’s Pastorius Park. | Photo: © Jeffrey Totaro Photography

The Margaret Esherick House in Chestnut Hill, one of Louis Kahn’s few residential commissions, has just won a national award for the preservation effort that restored it last year.

Docomomo US, an organization devoted to documentation and conservation of the buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement, has bestowed a Citation of Merit on the preservation project in its 2016 Modernism in America Awards.

The project, carried out by the house’s owners, Paul Savidge and Daniel Macey, was cited for the way in which the owners, architect k YODER design and designer Louise Cohen channeled the spirit of Kahn in restoring and updating the house. Read more »

That House Out There: Form Follows Function in Spring Garden

living room and kitchen

1700 Melon St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19130 | Images via Keller Williams Center City Realty

The part of Spring Garden where this recently built townhome stands was once home to several light industrial buildings, some of which have since been converted into residences.

Given that heritage, it’s quite logical that this home would reflect that industrial aesthetic, but it does so with contemporary flair and elegance.

The main floor of this 24-foot-wide residence, for instance, is completely open in plan, which means you can arrange it to suit your lifestyle. There’s plenty of room to relax and entertain, and the kitchen is equipped to handle it all, with high-end finishes and features that include a gas range with double oven, a wine fridge and a generously sized island with bar seating. If you’re in the mood for outdoor dining or entertaining, the patio in back is just the right size for grilling. Read more »

Our Odds on the 30th Street Station Area Development Plan

30th Street Station development plan, aerial view

The 30th Street Station area master plan laid out a fantastic vision of a second downtown for Philadelphia in University City. Only money stands in the way of realizing it, with the public sector as the weakest link. | Rendering by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, courtesy Amtrak

$6.5 billion.

The figure was tossed out rather casually in the course of yesterday’s formal unveiling of the two-years-in-the-making master development plan for the area surrounding 30th Street Station in University City, but it represents the largest single bet yet placed on the future of Philadelphia.

The parties involved — Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University, PennDOT, SEPTA, and a slew of elected officials and community groups — have put their chips down on a project that has many moving parts and will play out over the course of decades.

As we’ve seen plans almost as ambitious as this one go up in smoke (anyone here remember River City?), it’s only logical that we should ask what its chances for completion are. Herewith are my own odds for the plan’s key components and the overall chances that the plan will be fully realized sometime in our or our children’s lifetimes. Read more »

Jawdropper of the Week: An Elegant Estate Home in Newtown

1 Old Cabin Rd., Newton, Pa. 18940 | TREND images via Addison Wolfe Real Estate

1 Old Cabin Rd., Newtown, Pa. 18940 | Photos from Addison Wolfe Real Estate

You probably won’t get cabin fever on a rainy day in a home like this one.

That’s because, for starters, you could probably fit about a dozen cabins in this spectacular one-of-a-kind home from Mack & Roedel custom builders in Newtown’s Ely Farm subdivision. Then there’s what you’ll find in all that space. With plenty of room to relax and custom-designed spaces for entertainment, work and other activities, you can follow your fancy wherever it leads you.

Did we say fancy? This generously sized home may look like a traditional farmhouse on the outside, but inside, it’s clearly to the manor born: there’s not a single room in this home that doesn’t exude elegance, starting with the lovely center hall entrance foyer with its tray ceiling above and Brazilian cherry wood flooring below. Read more »

These Are The Region’s 8 Best Developments

The Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center, one of this year's Rouse Award winners, is at once a stormwater management facility and a community recreational and cultural asset. | Photo by BKP, courtesy ULI Philadelphia

The Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center, one of this year’s Rouse Award winners, is at once a stormwater management facility and a community recreational and cultural asset. | Photo by BKP, courtesy ULI Philadelphia

The Philadelphia region is brimming with talented architects and designers cranking out imaginative, creative and attractive buildings.

And they’re all putting them in University City.

Okay, not all of them. But three of this year’s eight winners of the Urban Land Institute Philadelphia’s third annual Willard G. “Bill” Rouse III Awards for Excellence are located in University City, more than any other single part of Eastern and Central Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware, the region covered by ULI’s Philadelphia district council. Read more »

30th Street Station Development Plans Announced

 

A renedering of what the area around 30th Street Station would look like when all the projects envisioned in the development plan are completed. | Renderings by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, courtesy Amtrak

This morning, Amtrak, SEPTA and Drexel University officials unveiled plans for a massive transformation of the area around 30th Street Station.

The massive, multi-decade 30th Street Station District Plan would, when completed, turn the area around 30th Street Station into a second downtown for Philadelphia focused on the second-busiest station in the Amtrak system. That station, transformed into a multimodal transportation hub for the region, would serve as the linchpin of the planned development.

New office, retail and residential buildings containing 18 million square feet of total space and 40 acres of open space would be created under the plan, with most of the development privately financed. A total of $2 billion in public investment would leverage an additional $4.5 billion in private investment. These figures are on top of the $3.5 billion Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust have already pledged to see the Schuylkill Yards development, which Drexel President John Fry described as “a down payment” on the plan at this morning’s public unveiling, to completion. Read more »

University City Preservation Tragedy: When Density Begets Dullness

Dull density vs. handsome history. If this is the price of progress, can we get a refund? | Photo courtesy Naked Philly

Dull density vs. handsome history: If this is the price of progress, can we get a refund? | Photo courtesy Naked Philly

One of the positive aspects of the current development boom in Philly is that long-underutilized land is being put to better use. Denser development makes the most of our great transportation infrastructure and adds more vitality to neighborhoods across the spectrum.

Of course, no good is unalloyed. Sometimes, to get the benefit, pieces of the city’s past must be sacrificed. It’s part of the natural process by which cities remain vital.

But not all new development is worth sacrificing the past for. Sometimes, the pursuit of density (and the increased revenue that comes with it) demands too high a price.

Especially when that price is the replacement of handsome ensembles of historic buildings with bland, uninspired boxes. Read more »

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