A Modern Master’s Mansion in Fort Washington for $25M

7711 Sheaff Ln., Fort Washington, Pa. 19034 | Images via Long & Foster / Christie's International Real Estate

7711 Sheaff Ln., Fort Washington, Pa. 19034 | Photos: Halkin Architectural Photography LLC via Long & Foster / Christie’s International Real Estate

We never thought we’d run across a home whose interior space can be expressed in acres.

There’s a first time for everything, it seems, for this home contains 0.85 acres of interior space.

(That’s 36,957 square feet, expressed in conventional terms.)

Yes, you could fit several tract houses inside this Rafael Viñoly-designed masterwork. But why would you want to?

For this expansive home that’s ideally suited for entertaining on a grand scale also offers a high level of intimacy for those moments when you want it. Read more »

Second East Market Apartment Tower Echoes a Grande Dame

Partial view of the second apartment tower at East Market. | Rendering: Morris Adjami via National Real Estate Development LLC

Partial view of the second apartment tower at East Market. | Rendering: Morris Adjmi Architects and BLT Architects via National Real Estate Development LLC

National Real Estate Development, LLC (NRED), the union-affiliated development firm that’s behind the East Market mixed-use development, yesterday announced that it had closed on a $57 million loan from Wells Fargo that will allow work to commence on the project’s second apartment tower.

Designed by architect Morris Adjmi in collaboration with project architect BLTa, the new tower is dramatically different in style from the first tower now under way at 11th and Market streets.

Yet it should strike a familiar chord with everyone who sees it. Read more »

On the Drawing Board: Living XXL in Franklintown

The NOVO Philly development. | Renderings: Atrium Design Studio

The NOVO Philly development. | Renderings: Atrium Design Studio

From the architect who brought you 7inSPIRE and a good chunk of Northern Liberties comes something huge: 10 luxurious, light-filled townhomes just off Logan Square, right across from the Latter-day Saints’ meetinghouse, temple and apartment tower.

The project is called NOVO Philly, and its architect, Shimi Zakin, has upped his usual stylish game with these homes.

Like 7inSPIRE, NOVO is designed to relate to its site and neighborhood. Read more »

Ooh La La! The Adams Gets a Parisian Makeover

This rendering by Philippe Maidenberg shows how his use of color will enliven the residents' lounge at the Adams.

This rendering by Philippe Maidenberg shows how his use of color will enliven the residents’ lounge at the Adams.

If you’ve followed my reporting on Post Brothers, you should know that I’m a huge fan of the Pestronk brothers’ theatrical flair. Whether it’s in design, marketing or public relations, Post Brothers knows how to grab your attention and hold onto it.

Now, as they turn to renovating the last of the four towers they’re making over at Presidential City on City Avenue, they’ve taken their eye for style and talent for showmanship above and beyond their usual standard.

To do this, they’ve enlisted outside help, namely, internationally known French architect Philippe Maidenberg, who has added a dash of color and whimsy to the lobby and model units at the Adams.

(Wait. Wasn’t it Jefferson who went to Paris? No matter. Neither I nor Post Brothers insist on slavish devotion to every historical jot and tittle when invoking past Presidential glories.)

Post Brothers CEO Mike Pestronk explained why they decided Maidenberg was the right person for this renovation project. Read more »

From Trash to Treasure: The Story of the Ugliest House in America

HomeVestors franchisee Tom Beerley turned this ugly duckling in Springfield into a swan. | Photos courtesy Tom Beerley via HomeVestors

HomeVestors franchisee Tom Beerley turned this ugly duckling in Springfield into a swan. | Before photos: Tom Beerley via HomeVestors; after photos: Pravada Photography via HomeVestors

You’ve seen those big yellow billboards that proclaim “We Buy Ugly Houses,” right?

Those are the work of HomeVestors, a company that franchises its services to investors who would like to help owners of properties in distress.

Each year, the company sponsors a competition among its franchisees to identify the “Ugliest House in America” as a way of showcasing the work HomeVestors buyers do.

And “showcase” is precisely what the 2016 Ugliest House in America, a two-story home built in 1945 in Springfield, Delaware County, became thanks to the efforts of franchisee Tom Beerley.

The home could hardly have been more distressed. Nor could its owner. Read more »

Apartments Proposed Atop Ardmore Christian Science Reading Room

The Christian Science Reading Room on Rittenhouse Place in Ardmore would get a two-story apartment building on top under a proposal submitted to Lower Merion's historical review board. | Google Street View image

The Christian Science Reading Room on Rittenhouse Place in Ardmore would get a two-story apartment building on top under a proposal submitted to Lower Merion’s historical review board. | Google Street View image

Developers Chris and Ryan Tobin want to join the parade of builders adding apartments to downtown Ardmore. Their modest proposal, however, would add two stories to a one-story historic building, so it got referred to the Lower Merion Historical Architecture Review Board.

The Main Line Times reports that the board voted to send the developers back to the drawing board to address concerns about the project’s design and its effect on neighboring structures. Read more »

Jawdropper of the Week: Nirvana in Devon for $8M

500 S. Waterloo Rd., Devon, Pa. 19333 |Photos: Herb Engelsberg via Jack Aezen

500 S. Waterloo Rd., Devon, Pa. 19333 |Photos: Herb Engelsberg via Jack Aezen

Some mansions have more than elegance to recommend them. This home in Devon is one of those, because it has a story behind it.

That story begins in 1903, when Philadelphia attorney and philanthropist William C. Bullitt built this home as a summer residence on 12 acres of land near Waterloo and Exeter roads. He called it “Oxmoor,” after his family’s ancestral home in Louisville. His will provided for the home to pass to his two sons, William C. Jr. — the first U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union in the FDR administration — and Orville H., one of the founders of Blue Cross of Greater Philadelphia (now Independence Blue Cross) and a board chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, upon his death.

That took place in 1919, whereupon the sons sold it to Francis R. Welsh, who renamed it “Nirvana.” With its beautifully landscaped grounds and classically elegant detailing, the name certainly fit. Read more »

CDR Panel Gives Toll Jewelers Row Tower a Mixed Review

The CDR panel's advice to Toll's architect: Make up your mind what kind of tower this is supposed to be. | Rendering: SLCE Architects

The CDR panel’s advice to Toll’s architect: Make this building modern or make it neotraditional, but make it one or the other. | Rendering: SLCE Architects

Toll Brothers City Living’s proposal for a 29-story residential tower with ground-floor retail on Jewelers Row went before the design doctors yesterday (February 7th). Their diagnosis: The building suffers from a case of architectural schizophrenia.

Curbed Philly’s report on the Civic Design Review meeting indicates that only one of the members of the CDR panel, developer Leo Addimado, liked the proposed design. But even he urged Toll and project architect SLCE to make the design more frankly modern. Committee members referred to the structure as having split personalities throughout the meeting. Read more »

Toll’s Tower Design: An Almost Successful Compromise

The Sansom Street elevation of the proposed Toll Brothers condo tower. | Rendering: SLCE Architects

The Sansom Street elevation of the proposed Toll Brothers condo tower. | Rendering: SLCE Architects

Given that the controversial condo tower Toll Brothers City Living plans to build at the east end of Jewelers Row is a by-right project, it really wasn’t necessary for the company to meet with neighboring building and business owners to discuss its plans. But it did, and given what it was proposing to build and where, the natural question those neighbors, both supporters and opponents, had was: Well, what will the thing look like?

A lot of other people well beyond Washington Square West wanted to know too.

We all got that question answered at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Washington Square West Civic Association Zoning Committee, where representatives of Toll Brothers’ City Living division and the project architect, New York-based SLCE, revealed renderings of the tower.

The result is a good news/bad news story. Read more »

Toll Takes Wraps Off Jewelers Row Tower

The Sansom Street elevation of the proposed Toll Brothers condo tower. | Rendering: SLCE Architects

The Sansom Street elevation of the proposed Toll Brothers condo tower. | Renderings: SLCE Architects

Toll Brothers City Living finally revealed what the condo tower it plans to build in place of three structures on historic Jewelers Row will look like before a packed meeting of the Washington Square West Civic Association Zoning Committee at Thomas Jefferson University last night.

And to the surprise of Toll Brothers City Living Division Vice President Brian Emmons, most of those who attended liked the design produced by SLCE Architects of New York.

That doesn’t mean, however, that everyone liked the building. Several in attendance, most notably a group of residents of the buildings slated to fall, managed to make their displeasure known to the committee, Emmons, and City Councilman Mark Squilla both during and after the meeting. Read more »

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