Futuristic Dilworth Plaza Renderings to Become Real Very Soon

dilworth park fountain

A detail of life as we will soon know it.

For a Philadelphia space that was established by William Penn as the center of the city, Dilworth Plaza’s new incarnation — at least as seen in renderings — has always seemed rather futuristic. And in advance of today’s press conference (more about that here), the Center City District, which has a 30-year lease on the space, heralded the project’s more forward-leaning aspects, such as the “11,600-square-foot computer-programmable fountain fed with recycled rainwater.”

But it’s all happening (as Penny Lane would say), and it’s happening now. Lest you think the rainwater business is the equivalent of realtor-speak (“rainforest shower” for a completely normal bathroom), this emphasis on sustainability is important to all involved. Nutter has said, from the beginning of his mayoralty, that he was going to focus on making Philly a green city; and the project’s design and construction firms — KieranTimberlake, OLIN, Urban Engineers, Gilbane Building Company and Daniel J. Keating Company — all have experience and commitment to sustainable design and/or building.

That’s partly the reason the name is changing: from Dilworth Plaza to Dilworth Park, to emphasize things like its tree groves and flower beds, and perhaps to encourage residents to see it as green space. (Some of the greenest elements of it won’t be done until October, though, including, according to CCD, the lawns and walkways to South Penn Square.)

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Reduced: Society Hill Beauty Gets Price Cut of $100K

311 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA

This high-ceilinged Society Hill townhouse has a traditional facade that hides a mix of modern and historic elements. The kitchen has Viking stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops and backsplash, Shaker-style wood cabinets, and limestone flooring. The formal dining and living rooms have crown molding and wood floors. There’s a breakfast room that leads out to the red brick garden.

The second floor has the master suite, a rear library with built-ins, and a small deck. Another deck is possible right off the stairs leading to the third floor, where two bedrooms share a marble bathroom. A fourth bedroom with a bathroom and bonus open area can be found on the fourth floor. The lower level has a media room.

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Some Restoration In Store For Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute

salk institute

The Salk Institute, designed by Louis Kahn. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, a famous architectural gem by Louis Kahn, is under threat.  The wood-and-concrete property, which sits near the beaches of the Pacific in La Jolla, California, has not been situated in the greatest of environments and its starting to show on the building. As Brigitte Brown of Architizer writes:

“It’s perfectly tranquil in all of its concrete and wood glory — but, because of the structure’s proximity to the salty and sandy marine environment, it is at a preservation disadvantage. Visitors today can clearly note how the teak wood “window walls” are taking a beating.”

Fortunately, the Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative is here to save it. And other buildings in the process too.

CMAI, a partnership between the Salk Institute and the Getty Conservation Institute, is trying to develop a plan that will help conserve Khan’s architectural masterpiece. However, as whole, CMAI is looking to “help with the distinct challenges of conserving modern architecture” because despite “all the innovative techniques and use of materials,” many, like Kahn’s Salk work, are “rapidly deteriorating.”

This Is How You Save a Louis Kahn Masterpiece [Architizer]

Morning Headlines: Was Revel’s Design to Blame for Its Failure (VIDEO)

shutterstock_revel-940x540

Looking back at its two-year life (and the process leading up to it), it’s easy to see where things may have started to go downhill for the Revel Casino Hotel. But could one of the falling dominos that factored in its demise have been its design?

The Architect’s Newspaper recently published a piece pondering this question, and referred back to a New York Times article that pointed out Revel’s design issue last week:

But in terms of Revel, specifically, its design may have been its fatal flaw. “The enormous cost of the property, its vast size and its peculiar configuration—patrons had to ride a steep escalator from the lobby to get to the casino, the 57-story hotel and the restaurants—made it difficult to turn a profit,” reported the New York Times.

Indeed, this “peculiar configuration” did not go unnoticed by critics. In June, the Inquirer’s Harold Brubaker mentioned many felt Revel’s layout faults “include[d] a long distance between the casino floor and the hotel’s front desk, a casino floor that fails to engage gamblers, and vast empty spaces that make Revel expensive to heat and cool.”

One of said critics was Alan R. Woinski, chief executive of Gaming USA Corp., who happened to be interviewed by NPR just a few days ago, and had this to add about the shuttered resort: Read more »

10 Cool Instagram Shots of PNB Letters Coming Down

The letters on the flatbed truck, destined for the scrapyard. Photo: Bradley Maule.

The letters on the flatbed truck, destined for the scrapyard. Photo: Bradley Maule.

One South Broad Street, a Beaux Arts building commissioned by the Wanamaker family that opened in 1932, underwent a quarter of a transformation this weekend when three of its iconic, 16-foot-high PNB letters — installed more than a half-century ago — were removed on Sunday.

The change was due to new ownership of the John T. Windrim-designed building: Aion Partners bought the building for $68 million in April, but as Hidden City reports, the removal of the letters has been a long time coming: “Removal of the letters was first approved by the Philadelphia Historical Commission in 2005, when Wachovia wanted to replace the PNB with branding of its own. (The Founder’s Bell and its belfry are on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, while the building itself is not.)”

Below, some Instagrammer shots (including my own) of the letter removal, which will continue next week, perhaps, though the precise date hasn’t been nailed down. The letters, by the way, are headed to the scrapyard. Shame Vanna White isn’t in town.

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Post Bros.’ Goldtex Building Gets a “Neighborhood Tavern”

Photo: Liz Spikol

Photo: Liz Spikol

According to Zagat as reported in Foobooz, the Goldtex apartment building’s ground floor will soon be getting a restaurant. Mike Welsh, formerly of Franklin Mortgage and Lemon Hill, will open Brick & Mortar — “a neighborhood American tavern” — sometime in November in what’s currently 3,500 square feet of raw space.

One issue with Goldtex has been its location–what people call, variously, the Loft District, Eraserhood, or Chinatown-ish–Philadephians have a hard time seeing that area as warm and neighborhoody. But it sounds, from Welsh’s talk with Danya Henninger for Zagat, that the restaurant/bar’s vibe hopes to change that:

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McIlhenney Mansion’s Dome to Be Demolished

Photo by Brad Maule via Hidden City.

Photo by Brad Maule via Hidden City Daily.

An item in today’s Center City Residents Association email newsletter says demolition will start soon on the double-parcel McIlhenny Mansion at the southwest corner of Rittenhouse Square, now owned by developer Bart Blatstein. And there will be some changes:

When the dust has settled, the one story curved brick façade and dome at 1916 erected in 1957 will be gone. The planned replacement is a four story 47 foot high addition. The addition’s roofline will match that of the mansion’s other property, 1914 Rittenhouse Square, erected in 1859 with three stories capped by a one story mansard roof with dormer windows. The façade of 1914 is to remain unchanged. The mansion’s back entrance on Manning Street currently consists of a single story structure, a garage with a double width door adjacent to a servant’s entrance. The plans call for a two story structure on the western end with bedrooms atop two oversize garage entrances. On the eastern side, the addition will rise a third story above Manning Street.

Below, the plans included in CCRA’s email.

Plans via Center City Residents Association

Plans via Center City Residents Association

Huzzah! Pier 53 Is Officially Washington Avenue Pier

Photo by Douglas Bovitt courtesy Delaware River Waterfront Corp.

Photo by Douglas Bovitt courtesy Delaware River Waterfront Corp.

Today was the formal opening of the Washington Avenue Pier, which you may remember — from yesterday — as Pier 53. Part of the Master Plan for the Central Delaware, the Pier Formerly Known As 53 is now a very lovely and educational park, with pretty incredible views, from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge to the Walt Whitman Bridge, and from Philadelphia to New Jersey. And, of course, the mighty Delaware River.

The photos below show the variety of seating, educational components, boardwalk, and natural habitats designed and built by Applied Ecological Services and Neshaminy Contractors. You’ll also see photos of “Land Buoy” by artist Jody Pinto (best known round these parts for “Fingerspan” in the Wissahickon), whose family has a fascinating story related to the pier, which was once an immigration station.

Gallery below.

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