Malvern’s Most Earth-Friendly Cedar Mansion

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This Lindal Cedar home on Conestoga Road is about as green as it gets — and in some intriguing ways. For instance, the railings are made, in part, of the pipes and wood from a 400-year-old church organ. And recovered iron from the very historic Morris Steel Company was used as a building material.

As is obvious from all those windows, the home is optimized for solar panels, but the sun will heat and light things even without. The listing also notes “radiant flooring to optimize expenses in the basement” and “European designed AC high velocity delivery” as well as seven ceiling fans and a fireplace on every floor.

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What Becomes of an Empty Frat House?

penn-frat-houseIn late November 2012, Penn’s Skulls, or Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity, moved out of its on-campus house after losing its charter due to a death at one of its parties. Now, the Daily Pennsylvanian reports, the corporation of Skulls alumni that owns the house and the university are finally discussing its future use.

The fraternity wants to come back to campus, the executive director of its international organization told the paper, but won’t start talks with the college until 2015. (The university’s director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life said that Greek organizations often have to wait four to six years before they can “recolonize.”) And PKS likely wouldn’t move back into the house until a few years after that.

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Vision of NoLibs That’s More Buñuel Than Blatstein

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Perhaps it’s fitting that renderings of this new construction on Third Street should appear on real estate websites around the time of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s death, when so many are talking about magical realism. These remind me of fantasist animator Hayao Miyazaki too, particularly the night view, which is in a dark rain. You don’t see that too often — usually an exterior night view in a rendering has a building shimmering like a golden palace atop a hill of diamonds. Sparkly and pretty.

One image of the homes recalls the Mario Brothers circa Atari, with bright green levels that make me want to break out the eighth-grade joystick.

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Poet Walks Through Bensalem, Avoids Being Hit by Car

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One of Bensalem’s best known spots. Photo: MerchantCircle.com

I grew up in Far Northeast Philly but went to high school in the suburbs. Add in trips to the Neshaminy Mall and time spent in Wawa parking lots and the place I’ve probably spent the second-most time in my life is Bensalem, Pa.

The township doesn’t seem like the ninth-largest municipality in Pennsylvania -— it barely feels like a singular town at all, with various communities of the township retaining different characteristics. If I want to make my high school sound fancier, I could say it was in Cornwells Heights.

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Modern Chestnut Hill Home With Spa-Like Master Bath

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Let’s count the ways we can tell this contemporary Chestnut Hill home was owned by a designer:

  1. There is a cut-out in the courtyard, allowing a tree to grow unimpeded
  2. Sleek, clean lines combined with midcentury modern furniture everywhere
  3. Dramatic light fixtures

The listing tells us this home underwent “significant cosmetic and mechanical improvements” while designers owned the home. We assume they include the magnificent kitchen, which features custom cabinetry, Durat countertops, cork flooring and luxury appliances. While everything in this home looks professionally decorated and designed, it may be most readily apparent in what we assume is the master bath. The spa-like atmosphere is emphasized with an oversized soaking tub that looks like something straight out of a Rescue Rittenouse dream.

Outside, the property has been designed just as thoughtfully. The central terrace boasts a built-in grill station, a fire pit and a dining area. A second flagstone patio also provides views of the grounds. The landscaped property also includes an attached two-car garage and a shed as well as a custom-made treehouse.

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Morning Headlines: Jon Bon Jovi’s New Soul Homes Open in Fairmount

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A 55-unit mixed-use housing project by Project HOME will open its doors to many of the city’s formerly homeless this week — thanks in large part to Jon Bon Jovi and his unlikely partnership with Sister Mary Scullion.

Scullion recently told Philly Mag’s Joel Mathis how that relationship evolved:

“Jon was the co-owner of the Soul (Arena Football League) team at that time, and he was staying at the Ritz Carlton on Broad Street. He looked out his window and saw someone just out in the bitter cold and got his sound engineer and said to him, ‘Can you find me an organization in this area that we could partner with to do something about this? It’s an intolerable condition.’”

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Oh, Thank Goodness

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The new banner, even better than the old banner.

The historian/architecture critic GroJLart, well known for his potty mouth, has relaunched his beloved blog Philaphilia with a new logo and new design and new content to keep all of the building junkies happy.

In case you don’t know who he is, Gro (as we call him) writes thoughtful profiles in categories like Butt-Fugly Public Art of the Week, Old-Ass Buildings of the Week, Empty Lot of the Week, etc. He’s now offering editorials (“GroJLartitorials”) on subjects like 5 Ways To Help Save the Great Wall of Pennsylvania (PA Convention Center).

Don’t be fooled by the lighthearted tone. This is thoughtful stuff, whether the word “fuck” appears or no. In the case of the benighted Convention Center, cursing is merited.

Did Frank Furness Really Design This Center City Home?

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A sizable four-bedroom townhome on 22nd Street between Walnut and Locust has been listed for $1.85 million, and one highlighted feature is the architect: Frank Furness. Well, to be precise, the house was “attributed to Frank Furness,” according to the listing. But did Furness design it?

The association makes sense. The house sits directly across the street from the definitely Furness-designed Morton Henry house. But we didn’t find any documentation confirming that Furness also designed this one, even in “Frank Furness: The Complete Works.” So we asked George E. Thomas, the book’s lead author and an architectural historian who teaches at Penn, about it.

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Relisted: Larry Brown’s $5.9M Bryn Mawr Estate

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After a few months’ breather, former 76ers coach Larry Brown’s luxury estate is back on the market. The seven-bedroom, 11,000-square-foot has many! fun! features! because Brown is an upbeat kinda guy. There’s a retro soda fountain with red leatherette-topped stools; a movie theater; an exercise room; and a swimming pool with pool house. Bring the team!

The asking price is the same: $5.9 million.

Gallery below.

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15th and Walnut Buildings to Get Major Retail Upgrade

15thandwalnut2Now that PREIT owns both of the buildings at the northwest corner of 15th and Walnut streets, a major retail upgrade is in the works for the properties.

Broker Douglas Green of Michael Salove Company informs us that his firm is actively shopping the properties for multi-story retail use. Of the current tenants, only Club Monaco will remain in place. MSC’s plan is to give the upscale women’s fashion retailer more appropriate company.

MSC is particularly interested in finding a prime tenant for the corner space, which currently houses a smoke shop. Green noted the incongruity of a “hookah shop” at a major intersection that boasts a fitness club and a high-end steakhouse, with a Cheesecake Factory soon to join them.

PREIT acquired the buildings in January of this year. Louis I. Kahn, the celebrated Modernist architect, maintained his office at 1503.

Photo: Sandy Smith

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