ThinkFest Recap: Why the New Comcast Skyscraper Will Be Great for Philly

Missed Thinkfest? Not to worry, we have a social media roundup of the highlights. Here’s one of Comcast Senior Vice President Karen Buchholz telling us why the upcoming Comcast Innovation and Technolgy Center will be great for the city:

Karen Buchholz, senior vp, Comcast, makes a case for the new Comcast building in 15 seconds. #ThinkFest

A video posted by Philadelphia Magazine (@phillymag) on

Morning Headlines: The Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk Makes Philadelphia Better

Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk | Photograph by Laura Kicey

Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk | Photograph by Laura Kicey

What raises the quality of a city? According to Better! Cities & Towns editor Robert Steuteville, there are four things that are key creating a “strong sense of place” within any given town: walkability, the presence of culture and arts, history and its preservation and, finally, a “connection to nature.”

Does that sound like any place you know?

Philadelphia may meet the first three, but it’s only in the last few years that the last element has started to move toward reaching its full potential. Steuteville points to New York’s High Line as a dramatic example of this city-nature relationship, but says Philly now has a similar thing going on with its Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk:
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House of the Week: A Frank Weise Modernist Marvel on Lombard Street

1201 Lombard St, Philadelphia, PA, 19147

1201 Lombard St, Philadelphia, PA, 19147

Holy mackerel, a Frank Weise home is for sale!

Admittedly, I’ve only been familiar with Mr. Weise’s work for 90 minutes. Modern Homes Philadelphia, a website that acts as a resource for those interested in modern architectural living in the area, has a whole slew of images and information on the architect’s jaw-dropping buildings.

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Morning Headlines: 500 Walnut Gets Design Approval Recommendation

500Walnut-Rendering-new copy The proposed 500 Walnut tower that would overlook Independence Hall may have already received zoning approval, but its developer and architect still had one more group to convince for its design last week. This past Friday, they got just that as the Philadelphia Historical Commission gave the newly tweaked building an approval recommendation.

PlanPhilly’s Matt Golas reports Cecil Baker, the architect chosen for the Scannapieco Development project, presented his alterations before the commission, the commission’s Architectural Committe and the Philadelphia Art Commission. Changes included a proposal for the use of “greenish glass and metal curtain walls, with areas of stone classing to the base” and “a mix of metal-frame windows and multi-story window walls” for the upper floors.

Baker’s adjustments to 500 Walnut comes from input he received from commission members, local residents and the National Park Service. Here’s more from PlanPhilly: Read more »

Is Designing a Phone More Complex Than Designing a Building?

Morimoto PA Dining Room

Morimoto’s dining room designed by Karim Rashid

The iconoclastic designer Karim Rashid—best known ’round these part as the interior designer of Philadelphia’s Morimoto—was interviewed in the New York Times’ commercial real estate section recently and offered some rather harsh words for those with architecture degrees. Rashid, who does not have an architecture degree but is nonetheless designing buildings, works with a team of architects and engineers to get around the fact that he’s not licensed. But even if it were a problem, he doesn’t sound inclined to go back to school for architecture anytime soon:

I have to say, and I don’t mean this in a pejorative way, that architecture, in a sense the more pedestrian architecture, is generally quite simple compared to industrial design. In other words, it’s far more sophisticated to do something like a mobile phone than it is to do an average building.

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It’s a Bad Week for Architects

A screen shot from a film made by Hugh Petter, who's trying to build the first Frank Lloyd Wright designed-building in the UK. It shows Wright on the TV show "What's My Line?"

A screen shot from a film made by Hugh Petter, who’s trying to build the first Frank Lloyd Wright designed-building in the UK. It shows Wright on the TV show “What’s My Line?”

Two stories worthy of note. The first is about Hugh Petter, a Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiast in England, who has been trying to convince his fellow countrymen to allow him to build what would be the first Wright-designed building in the UK. But the local planning authority, which would have to approve the project (which was given the rare nod by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation), did not know who Frank Lloyd Wright was. Last year they voted against the project, with councillor Bob Cook saying:

“I do not see why we should allow this odd American-designed house in our countryside. Outside of the USA and Japan there is not one Frank Lloyd-Wright designed house. He can’t be that influential if the rest of the world doesn’t want them.”

Petter made the below video to explain:

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The New World Trade Center Is Now Open

The newly opened 1 World Trade Center, which is 1,776 feet and offers a total of 104 stories, had its first residents move in yesterday. It’s the tallest building in the United States — and in the Western Hemisphere. But it didn’t come by that designation easily. In fact, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat spent a period deliberating over whether the “Freedom Tower” even deserved its title as tallest last year. From the International Business Times:

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Property’s Weekend Agenda: See Malvern’s Most Earth-Friendly Mansion


A free exhibit, a creepy walking tour, and an open house at the greenest home in Malvern–which event will you go to?

1. Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour
Halloween may be tonight, but this tour of Philadelphia’s spookiest sites is available year-round on different days depending on the month. Tomorrow, November kicks in and a new schedule with it: Every Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm.

The Details
Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour

WHEN: Tonight, 7:30pm and 9:30pm. November, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm.
WHERE: Tour begins at Mrs. K’s Koffee Shop, 325 Chestnut Street (4th & Chestnut Streets)
REGISTER: Here // $17.50 per adult, $12.50 per child (ages 3-12), $55.00 for Family Four Pack (2 adults, 2 children ages 3-12)

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The Best Halloween Costumes for Urban Planners: Philly Edition

Photo credit (vacant building): pwbaker via Flickr. Photo credit (zombie): Nathan Rupert via Flickr.

Photo credit: pwbaker via Flickr (vacant building) and Nathan Rupert via Flickr (zombie).

On the heels of the architect costume ideas we told you about, we thought it only fair to show you Halloween guises aimed at urban planners. Planetizin has complied four lists of over 30 potential costumes, but we narrowed it down to five and added suggestions for how to Philly-fy them. Below, our picks:

Bike Lane — Black clothes, white tape, maybe throw in a helmet. No one will be expecting this, but with the topic of bike lanes gaining major traction in the city recently, it’s sure to earn a comment or two from bike lovers and haters alike.

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