A Midcentury Modern Makeover in King of Prussia

A model apartment living room at 251 DeKalb. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Followers of this channel should be aware that midcentury modernism is now history. That is, it’s become the subject of preservationist interest and action to preserve and update its iconic buildings.

This area saw three large midcentury modern apartment complexes rise over a span of about 15 years: Presidential City in the early 1950s, Park Towne Place in the late 1950s, and the 251 DeKalb Pike complex in King of Prussia in the early to mid-1960s.

Having documented the transformation of the first two, I was only too happy to accept the invitation from 251 DeKalb’s new owners, Candlebrook Properties, to take a look at what they’ve done with the third. Read more »

Requiem for a “Little Marble House”

The Kantors’ summer home in Avalon, as it appeared in the summer of 2013… | Photo: Jim Meehan via Jack Vizzard, BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors

Jersey Shore homes tend to stick to a fairly modest architectural language of wood shingles and beams, following a traditional architectural vocabulary with some connections to the New England shingle style.

Which is why, when a Main Line matron with a passion for the art of 18th- and 19th-century Europe imported a different New England tradition to the dunes of Avalon, heads turned.

And now they’re turning again as the magnificent marble edifice she built with her husband is being disassembled piece by piece for distribution to architectural salvage buffs across the country. Read more »

A First Look at the New Four Seasons Hotel – And Its New Manager

The new Comcast Technology Center (to the right of the Comcast Center) will include the highest hotel in Philadelphia when the new Four Seasons opens on its top floors in 2018. | Rendering: DBOX for Foster + Partners

Come 2018, Philly visitors and staycationers will get to rise above it all like never before when the new Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia opens atop the Comcast Technology Center.

And when they visit, a seasoned Four Seasons pro who got his start here will be in charge of making sure their stay is first-class from start to end.

That pro is Ben Shank, which Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels announced today will serve as the general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center. Shank began his career in hospitality at the original Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia on Logan Square, which the company operated from 1983 to 2015. In the nearly 20 years since then, he has moved up through the company ranks, taking positions at Four Seasons hotels in New York, San Diego, Maui, Scottsdale and Orlando. Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: Jack & Jill

The stairwell of 1903 E. Arizona St. at the second-floor level. | Photos: Sandy Smith

“When are you going to clean up the outside?”

That’s what some East Kensington residents asked Red Oak Development principal Anthony Giacobbe about 2401 Emerald St., the crystal-like townhouse covered in Cor-Ten steel that was featured on Property right after Memorial Day.

Well, Red Oak is at it again, and East Kensingtonians are simply going to have to get used to rust-colored homes on their blocks.

This pair of trim townhouses at 1903-05 E. Arizona St. has been dubbed “Jack & Jill” because of their joined-at-the-hip character. And even though they’re still a little ways from completion, they’re already being marketed by Solo Real Estate, which is also marketing the Emerald Street property. Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: 1213 Walnut

The café-style community great room at 1213 Walnut. | Photos: Sandy Smith; renderings: Design Collective via Goldenberg Group

Philadelphia’s newest hotel is in its home stretch, sprinting towards an August opening.

Wait, did I say “hotel”? Forgive me, for I had a momentary lapse of memory in recalling what I was touring at 1213 Walnut St.

The building that local wags had dubbed the “Fergie Tower” is being referred to by that moniker much less often now that it’s a reality. The three companies in charge of making it happen — the Goldenberg Group, Houston-based Hines and Washington-based ASB Real Estate Investments — have always called it by its Midtown Village street address in Washington Square West, and its tenants will most likely do the same; after all, if they don’t, the Postal Service might not deliver their mail. Read more »

Jawdropper of the Week: A Modern Jewel in Bryn Athyn for $2.9M

2860 Paper Mill Rd., Huntingdon Valley, Pa. 19006 | TREND images via Keller Williams Realty

Our first reaction on seeing this listing in the course of searching for homes with great porches for next month’s print issue was, “Wow!”

Our second, upon researching it, was, “That poor owner. He thought he had sold the place last year. He must be really sad to have to hang around this place for another year.”

Frankly, we wouldn’t have shed a tear over the lost sale were we living in this true Midcentury Modern jewel, for we’d be very reluctant to leave it.

We suspect you will have the same reaction after checking out some of the pictures. Read more »

How A Piece of the Mediterranean Landed in South Kensington

French doors and balconies with iron railings abound in Jeannie DeCarlo’s home on North Hancock Street in Old Kensington, which sold for just about what she asked for it last week. | Photos: Sandy Smith unless otherwise noted

Painter Jeannie DeCarlo, says broker Stephanie Somers, is “a tough lady. It’s hard to get her to laugh. But when she does, you know you’ve gained her favor.”

Somers, co-owner of RE/MAX Access with her husband Christopher, had many a laugh with DeCarlo as she set about achieving what seemed impossible: selling a one-of-a-kind house on a not-yet-gentrified South Kensington block for a price no other home in the area has fetched.

I also shared a few laughs with DeCarlo when I visited her home to tell its story. And in its story you find diCarlo’s determined personality and ultimately sunny spirit shining through. Read more »

Jawdropper of the Week: The Ultimate Sanctuary in Malvern for $2.75M

25 Mountain Laurel Rd., Malvern, Pa. 19355 | Photos © SASbecker Photography via Dana Zdancewicz, BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors

“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning.”

—T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

It may be the end of the beginning for the owners of “The End of the Beginning,” but fortunately for you, they are giving you the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write the beginning of Chapter Two.

If you choose to take them up on the offer, you will assume stewardship — “ownership” isn’t quite the right term — of a truly unique ensemble of buildings that will make you feel better for living in them and sharing their bounty with your family, friends and guests.

For this estate, whose name is taken from the T.S. Eliot passage above, represents the marriage of an architect with a unique design philosophy and owners with an appreciation for both nature and art. Read more »

Vincent Kling House Restoration Wins Conservation Award

K Yoder Design’s restoration of a midcentury modern home in Gladwyne designed by Vincent Kling received a 2017 Citation of Merit from Docomomo US. | Photo: Jeffrey Totaro

Docomomo US, the American branch of the worldwide organization devoted to the “documentation and conservation of the buildings, sites and neighborhoods of the modern movement,” has bestowed one of its highest honors on a sensitive restoration of one of the few residential projects of Philadelphia School giant Vincent Kling.

K Yoder Design’s restoration of Kling’s Smith Residence in Gladwyne received a Citation of Merit in this year’s Docomomo Modernism in America Awards, one of four such projects so honored nationwide.

Completed in 1960, the Smith residence received a complete restoration to its original condition in 2016 when a Society Hill neighbor of K Yoder Design founder and principal Kevin Yoder approached him about buying and restoring the house. The restoration also replaced deteriorated building systems and updated its fixtures, fittings and appliances to 21st-century standards. Read more »

8 Projects Win Willard Rouse Awards

Swarthmore Town Center West | Photo from Swarthmore College via ULI Philadelphia

Judging from the major elements contained in this year’s honorees at the Urban Land Institute Philadelphia’s fourth annual Willard G. “Bill” Rouse Awards for Excellence, the city’s architectural and development communities have not only become masters at multitasking, they’ve managed to successfully complete their context sensitivity training.

Whether the design paid homage to traditional informal style, like Cope Linder’s master design for Swarthmore Town Center West, or made bold modern statements like KSS/Hollwich Kushner’s Pennovation Center and BLTa/Pelli Clarke Pelli’s FMC Tower at Cira Centre South did, in every case it fit in with its setting and enhanced its intended functions. Read more »

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