Swedish Researchers Create See-Through Wood

By combining wood that has been stripped of its coloring agent with an acrylic polymer, researchers in Sweden have created a material that combines the versatility of glass with the strength of wood. Now to get the cost curve down. | Photo: Peter Larsson | KTH Royal Institute of Technology

By combining wood that has been stripped of its coloring agent with an acrylic polymer, researchers in Sweden have created a material that combines the versatility of glass with the strength of wood. Now to get the cost curve down. | Photo: Peter Larsson | KTH Royal Institute of Technology

One reason wood is the most popular building material used in American homes is because of its combination of light weight, strength and low cost.

Now imagine what a builder could do with wood you can see through.

Researchers at Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm have taken a giant step towards making those possibilities a reality. According to an article in Architectural Digest, the researchers have produced a balsa veneer that is 85 percent transparent. Read more »

Temple Tosses Ceremonial Dirt to Formally Launch New Library Construction

Temple University's new main library as it will appear from a new campus green to be built across 13th Street from it. All renderings | Snøhetta

Temple University’s new main library as it will appear from a new campus green to be built across 13th Street from it. All renderings | Snøhetta

As the huge hole taking up almost an entire half city block in the center of the Temple University campus attested, ground had long since been broken for the construction of the university’s new main library. But even though this afternoon’s formal groundbreaking was strictly for the benefit of the assembled dignitaries, onlookers and media, it was nonetheless fraught with significance, for as all who spoke at the event noted, Temple’s new library is a groundbreaking project in just about every way. Read more »

Could Chester County Lose A Piece of Its History?

Loch Aerie as it appeared in 1958. Photo | Ned Goode for the Historic American Buildings Survey

Loch Aerie as it appeared in 1958. Photo | Ned Goode for the Historic American Buildings Survey

The once-grand estate of shirt-collar magnate William Lockwood, Loch Aerie, is now just a large house on a small plot of land with a Home Depot for a neighbor. After a nearly 20-year restoration attempt by an architectural curator failed to result in a sale of the property, the home has been quietly moldering since the mid-2000s. Now its owners are putting it up for sale at auction again, and local preservationists are rallying to save it.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported April 10 that the family of Daniel Tabas will sell the home in East Whiteland Township, Chester County, at auction April 21. The minimum bid for the property is $200,000, a fairly modest sum for this grand gabled home. Read more »

A Simple Fix That Could Make Life Easier for Bart Blatstein at Broad and Washington

The Civic Design Review panel was as critical of Bart Blatstein's revised proposal as its neighbors have been of the original. Perhaps he should go back to the drawing board? | Rendering: Cope Linder Architects

The Civic Design Review panel was as critical of Bart Blatstein’s revised proposal as its neighbors have been of the original. Perhaps he should go back to the drawing board? | Rendering: Cope Linder Architects

Residents of Northern Liberties can recount the long, drawn-out process that transformed what might have been a strip mall into Bart Blatstein’s most highly praised development, The Piazza at Schmidt’s.

Blatstein might want to consider pursuing that same involved path now if he is serious about creating a truly transformative project at Broad Street and Washington Avenue, for it’s clear that no one is really satisfied with what he is now proposing.

The latest group to register its discontent is the Civic Design Review committee, which took up Blatstein’s slightly revised proposal for 1001 South Broad yesterday. A story in The Philadelphia Inquirer captured that group’s general sentiment in the words of its chair, Nancy Rogo Trainer: “If this is the best you can do to improve this scheme, in my mind I’d go back to the drawing board.” Read more »

Study: Navy Yard One of Most Successful Redevelopment Projects in U.S. History

The Navy Yard | Photo: PIDC

The Navy Yard | Photo: PIDC

The long-running transformation of The Navy Yard from its shipbuilding past to its present as a growing urban office park has been hailed as one of the “most successful” redevelopment projects in U.S. history by the Urban Land Institute.

The former military base has become home to a host of corporate and regional headquarters, ULI observes in a new article — a location that has attracted more than 150 companies with 12,000 employees.

Oh, and it’s hip, too. Read more »

How to Sell an Ultra-Luxe Condo

The foyer of model unit 44DE, designed by BJS Design | Photos courtesy The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton

The foyer of model unit 44DE, designed by BJS Design | Photos courtesy The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton

You might think that the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton would sell themselves just on the power of the brand name and all that comes with it.

In some cases, you would be right, but in others, you would be wrong, for even with everything that comes with a condo at the tower across from City Hall, there’s one thing would-be owners have a hard time visualizing: What to do with all that empty space.

But before we get to how Vice President of Sales Gary Greenip figured out how to help his buyers figure that out, let’s run down some of the amenities that should make selling these ultra-high-end condos a breeze. Read more »

East Market: Hub of a New Design District?

Architect's rendering of the new Design Within Reach showroom at Market East

Architect’s cutaway rendering of the new Design Within Reach showroom at East Market | Image from D Form A (DFA)

An interior designer I recently had the pleasure to meet hails from Italy but has resided in the United States for well over a decade now. Nonetheless, one aspect of American urban commerce mystifies him: the tendency for similar businesses to cluster in identifiable districts in our large cities.

Apparently, there’s no Garment District in Milan, no Jewelers’ Row in Rome. That’s actually a shame if true, for districts like these offer distinct advantages for both merchants and shoppers alike. For shoppers, these clusters provided an easy means of comparison shopping long before the Internet came along. Merchants were assured more of the people passing their stores were interested in what they had to sell. And the businesses could more easily gain knowledge and trade insights with one another while keeping up the competition.

Both Jewelers’ Row in Center City and Fabric Row on South Fourth Street have survived for more than a century because of these advantages. Now it looks like a new trade hub is about to join them. Read more »

Blatstein Redesign Answers One CDR Objection…

Will an open stairway lure visitors to the rooftop shopping village at 1001 South Broad any more than an enclosed one would? Rendering | Cope Linder Architects

Will an open stairway lure visitors to the rooftop shopping village at 1001 South Broad any more than an enclosed one would? Rendering | Cope Linder Architects

No sooner had we reported that it was “back to the drawing board” for Bart Blatstein’s proposed mixed-use development at 1001 South Broad Street in Hawthorne than drawings came back from the drawing board.

The revised design from Cope Linder Architects that he will submit for a second round before the Civic Design Review Panel on April 5 looks exactly like the one that left the panel somewhat skeptical about its pedestrian enticements when he appeared before the panel on March 2—with one big exception and one less noticeable change. Read more »

Broad and Washington Development Scorecard: Blatstein’s 1001 vs. Alterra’s Lincoln Square

broad-and-washington-showdown-940x540

The Lincoln Square proposal (left) is just starting down the path towards realization, while Tower Investments’ proposal across Broad Street (right) will be revised yet again. | Renderings: Lincoln Square, © BLT Architects, courtesy MIS Capital LLC; Blatstein, Cope Linder Architects

With the announcement last week that Alterra Property Group had signed on to develop the mostly empty lot at the northwest corner of Broad and Washington, complete with renderings of a mixed-use project to be dubbed “Lincoln Square,” both sides of the most prominent underdeveloped intersection on Broad Street are now in play. Bart Blatstein‘s Tower Investments, of course, has big — and controversial plans for the northeast corner of the intersection.

The two projects are similar in concept but different in form, and their receptions thus far reflect the differences. Residents of Graduate Hospital have so far given Lincoln Square a warm reception, according to news reports, while those living in Hawthorne still want Bart Blatstein to give his proposal a big haircut.

Up until now, though, there’s not been a single spot where you can turn to for a complete rundown of the two projects’ merits, demerits and progress. With the table below, we’ve fixed that problem for you. Read more »

Next Steps for 30th Street Area Revealed

A rendering of what the 30th Street Station area should look like by 2050 from the draft district plan

A rendering of what the 30th Street Station area should look like by 2050 from the draft district plan

On the heels of Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust announcing their joint plan to redevelop the area just west of 30th Street Station comes a draft plan for the larger area surrounding the station.

The 30th Street Station District Plan is the product of a coalition that includes not only Drexel and Brandywine but also Amtrak, PennDOT and SEPTA. Like Schuylkill Yards, the larger plan envisions a totally new urban core district emerging around Amtrak’s third-busiest intercity railroad station over the next 35 years. Read more »

« Older Posts  |  Newer Posts »