You Could Be The First On Your Blok To Live in One of These

An example of a multifamily housing development built using Blokable's modular units. | Rendering; Blokable

An example of a multifamily housing development built using Blokable’s modular units. | Rendering; Blokable

The man who helped give physical form to “Earth’s biggest bookstore” and developed the checkout-free convenience store has now turned his attention to affordable housing.

His proposed solution combines high tech and kindergarten tech.

The building industry trade publication Builder reports that Aaron Holm, co-creator of the Amazon Go C-store and developer of the brick-and-mortar Amazon Books stores, has launched a new startup company called Blokable whose aim is to produce affordable housing that can be easily assembled and expanded. Read more »

It’s Hip to be Square on Avenue 30

The Avenue 30 development. | Rendering: KJO Architecture via The Riverwards Group and The Somers Team

The Avenue 30 development. | Renderings: KJO Architecture via The Riverwards Group and The Somers Team

There have been all sorts of attempts to solve the central problem of the Philadelphia row house, namely, the need to fit it into a long lot with narrow street frontage.

Over the years, these attempts have produced such distinctive features as incredibly small middle bedrooms and squarish houses with nonexistent back yards.

Fishtown-based developers The Riverwards Group faced just such a problem when they got their hands on a 300-foot-long, 110-foot-deep on Amber Street in East Kensington. The aim was to produce a large townhouse development with luxurious yet reasonably priced homes.

Their solution: Go wide, which is what they did with the new Avenue 30 development. Read more »

Room of the Week: This Is the Two-Story Indoor Fire Pit of Your Dreams

The indoor fire pit inside a Haddonfield residence | Photograph by Pascal Blancon

The indoor fire pit inside a Haddonfield residence | Photograph by Pascal Blancon

My biggest home-buying regret is that I had “fireplace” on my nice-to-have list instead of my need-to-have list. This is my way of saying that my house doesn’t have a fireplace, and I regret it every winter.

So when I saw the ingenious two-story indoor fire pit inside this Haddonfield home, I knew I needed to find out the design details. Here, how it came to be, from the architect himself.  Read more »

Yes, Virginia, There Really WAS a Philadelphia School

John Rauch residence, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, 1984-85. | Images: Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania, unless otherwise noted

John Rauch residence, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, 1984-85. | Images: Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania, unless otherwise noted

You may have heard the term “Philadelphia School” used to refer to a group of architects who dominated, and some say transformed, the city’s built environment in the 1960s and 1970s: Louis Kahn. Robert Venturi. Robert Geddes. John Bower. Ehrman Mitchell and Romaldo Giurgola.

Yet when most of us use the term, we don’t use it in the way one uses “Chicago School” to refer to the architects that ushered in the modern era in that city: Daniel Burnham, Henry Hobson Richardson, Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, John Root and their contemporaries.

An exhibit at the Philomathean Society at the University of Pennsylvania through April 17 argues that we should. Read more »

Pennovation Wins Honor for Preservation

The Pennovation Center. | Photo: © Michael Moran via HWKN

The Pennovation Center. | Photo: © Michael Moran via Hollwich Kushner

The architectural team that transformed a Grays Ferry paint laboratory into an idea laboratory has received a high honor from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.

The alliance has bestowed its 2017 Preservation Achievement Grand Jury Award upon Hollwich Kushner (HWKN) of New York and Philadelphia-based KSS Architects, who worked jointly on the Pennovation Center project.

The Pennovation Center is the linchpin of the 23-acre site the University of Pennsylvania acquired from DuPont with the goal of creating an “innovation district” where cutting-edge academic research and entrepreneurship can cross-pollinate. Read more »

Luxury High Above Washington Square

A penthouse unit at AKA Washington Square. | Photos: HughE Dillon unless otherwise indicated

A penthouse unit at AKA Washington Square. | Photos: HughE Dillon unless otherwise indicated

Now that extended-stay residence pioneer Larry Korman has finished assembling all the pieces of his Washington Square property, he took some time to show off the work to a group of real estate professionals and the media on March 29th.

AKA Washington Square at The Franklin offers furnished residences with hotel services aimed at the extended-stay market — people who need a place they can call home for more than a month but less than a year— and unfurnished apartments with annual leases for working professionals. Most of the units are one-bedroom apartments or suites with full kitchens and dining areas, but the Washington Square property also features several all-new and truly stunning bi-level penthouses. Read more »

When It Comes to Building, Color Us Medium Green

Philadelphia has produced several innovative sustainable developments such as Paseo Verde, the first project in the nation to earn LEED-ND (LEED for Neighborhood Development) certification. But the city landed in the middle of the pack on a recent ranking of the top 25 cities for green construction in the nation. | Photo courtesy of Wallace Roberts and Todd

Philadelphia has produced several innovative sustainable developments, such as Paseo Verde, the first project in the nation to earn LEED-ND (LEED for Neighborhood Development) certification. But the city landed in the middle of the pack on a recent ranking of the top 25 cities for green construction in the country. | Photo courtesy of Wallace Roberts and Todd

So how green is Philadelphia?

Well, we have this huge 7,600-acre park and…

That’s not the kind of green we’re talking about here. We’re talking about green building — designing and building structures that live more lightly on the Earth.

And here, we regret to report, Philadelphia doesn’t LEED the way. But it did post a respectable middle-of-the-pack showing in a ranking of the 25 top U.S. cities for LEED-certified properties conducted by the research staff at American City Business Journals, parent of the Philadelphia Business Journal.

What’s more, that showing’s likely to improve in the future, according to Alex Dews, director of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council (DVGBC). Read more »

From Farm to Table on Your Balcony

Rendering of The Plant by Kohn Shnier architects via ArchDaily, courtesy Curated Properties

Rendering of The Plant by Kohn Shnier architects via ArchDaily, courtesy Curated Properties

“Growing local” and “sustainable building” are both hot topics among the socially and environmentally conscious.

Now a developer in Toronto is embarking on a venture that will combine the two ideas into a single structure.

ArchDaily reports on The Plant, a “makerspace” with a difference: its spaces encourage residents to grow their own food. Read more »

ReStore Shuts Its Doors in Port Richmond

Image from ReStore blog post announcing the closing

Image from ReStore blog post announcing the closing

After 15 years in business, ReStore of Philadelphia has packed it in.

In a blog post today (March 28), ReStore’s owner announced, “I’m now going to REDUCE my life, RECYCLE what is left here, REUSE the earth’s bounty, and REINVENT myself.”

Over the years, the store amassed an impressive collection of more than 30,000 items from 1930 and earlier that have graced stage sets, homes, restaurants and shops across the city. The store won a “Best of Philly” award f0r architectural salvage from Philadelphia magazine in 2014. Read more »

Who’s Building Philly: Alon Seltzer

One of Alon Seltzer's Rittenhouse Savoy studio makeovers. | Apartment photos: Brian Lauer

Alon Seltzer’s own Rittenhouse Savoy studio was one of two makeovers that wowed viewers during Zillow’s “Tiny House Week.” | Apartment photos: Brian Lauer

Before the “tiny house,” there was the Rittenhouse Square efficiency apartment.

These shoeboxes for urban cliff dwellers enabled singles and others whose desire for urban living exceeded their need for space to take advantage of all the city had to offer: parks, cafés, shopping, culture, you name it. When the city was your living room, why bother with one of your own?

That attribute makes these efficiencies and studios popular with a younger set even now. But there’s a hitch: Back in the 1950s, when most of the apartment buildings containing these units were built, they weren’t terribly efficient in the way they used their limited space. And their appearance had likewise become dated.

Enter Alon Seltzer with his repair kit. Read more »

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