Resort-Style Living for the Active Senior Set Comes to King of Prussia

Canvas Valley Forge’s front door. | Exterior renderings: KTGY via Bozzuto Development Company

Club Med it ain’t, but Canvas Valley Forge comes awfully damn close — the only thing missing is the beach.

The new 55-plus residential community Bozzuto Development Company is now building at the Village at Valley Forge is, if not the first, one of the first in the country to adapt the all-inclusive resort ethos to what we really can’t call “senior living” any more.

That’s because the “seniors” at whom this residential community is aimed have no intention of “retiring.” They’re the Baby Boomers who raised their kids in the ‘burbs but are now ready to downsize their lives. What Bozzuto is banking on is that while they may want a smaller living-space footprint, they’d rather keep the amenities they enjoyed, and then some. Read more »

Common Threads in This Year’s Rouse Award Residential Finalists

Even Folsom Powerhouse, the most residential of this year's Rouse Award finalists, incorporates mixed uses in the form of an updated take on the traditional corner store. | Photo: Postgreen Homes

Even Folsom Powerhouse, the most residential of this year’s Rouse Award finalists, incorporates mixed uses in the form of an updated take on the traditional corner store. | Photo: Postgreen Homes

The Urban Land Institute Philadelphia District Council announced the finalists for this year’s Willard G. “Bill” Rouse Awards for Excellence last week, and five of the 14 finalists fall into the residential category, at least in part.

And it’s that “at least in part” part that’s one of the most significant common threads connecting the five projects. The message these projects deliver is one that urbanists, developers and planners have all been hammering home in one way or another for more than a decade now: Single-use is out, multitasking is in. (Toll Brothers, please copy.)

Not even the most residential of the five projects is exclusively residential, and that project has many other features that make it a standout. Read more »

Carl Dranoff Takes the Wraps Off One Riverside

(Left to right) Planning and Development Director Anne Fadullon, Carl Dranoff, City Council member Kenyatta Johnson (D-2nd District) and Managing Director Mike DeBerardinis cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of One Riverside May 2nd. | Photo: Sandy Smith

(Left to right) Planning and Development Director Anne Fadullon, Carl Dranoff, City Council member Kenyatta Johnson (D-2nd District) and Managing Director Mike DeBerardinis cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of One Riverside May 2nd. | Photo: Sandy Smith

Surrounded by examples from each of the stages of his career as a developer here in Philadelphia, Carl Dranoff officially cut the ribbon on his latest contribution to the Philadelphia skyline, the One Riverside luxury apartment tower, in a ceremony yesterday evening (May 2nd).

Joining him in marking the occasion were the building’s architect, Cecil Baker; officials from the tower’s builder, Intech Construction; and the local officials who helped smooth the project’s path to completion, including Council members Kenyatta Johnson, Mark Squilla and Al Taubenberger and city Managing Director Mike DeBerardinis.

Dranoff’s own assessment of the end result can best be summed up in this sentence from his remarks at the ribbon-cutting: “World-class buildings like this one elevate Philadelphia to a world-class city.” Read more »

An Artist’s Gallery Home Goes Up for Sale with an Exhibition

626 Creighton Rd., Villanova, Pa. 19085 | Photo: Herb Engelsberg

626 Creighton Rd., Villanova, Pa. 19085 | Photos: Herb Engelsberg, including TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach, unless otherwise indicated

Artist Lynda Howitt draws solace from the sea. She spent her formative years living in an oceanside home in Australia, to which her parents fled to escape the murderous regime of Idi Amin, and her works frequently play on the interaction between sea and sky.

But it was a thoroughly landlocked home in Villanova that captured her fancy when she was looking for a place to live in this country.

She recognized the moment she saw it that she was about to buy an art gallery as well as a home.

“The original owners that we bought it from purposely built it to showcase their amazing art collection,” Howitt said. “Being an artist, I couldn’t help but imagine my own art on the walls when I first viewed the house.” Read more »

A Face-Saving Gesture for the Royal Theater

The South Street facade of the planned residential-retail development. | Rendering: JKRP Architects

The South Street facade of the planned residential-retail development. | Renderings: JKRP Architects

We now know what the residential project that will rise behind the front wall of the Royal Theater in the 1600 block of South Street will look like.

That’s because the site’s owner, Sarasota, Fla.-based developer and medical research backer Robert Roskamp is ready to proceed with the project, which hews closely to plans developer Carl Dranoff had been discussing with Universal Companies head Kenny Gamble last summer.

According to a news report on Philly.com today, the project, which will go before Civic Design Review tomorrow (Tuesday, May 2nd), will consist of 57 apartments in a six-story structure to be built behind the South Street theater’s facade plus seven three-story townhouses at the rear of the theater site, fronting on Kater Street. Read more »

Tea and a House Tour in Overbrook Farms May 7

Where the Main Line got its start: Historic Overbrook Farms opens itself up to you on its annual house tour May 7. | Photo by Smallbones via WIkimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0

Where the Main Line got its start: Historic Overbrook Farms opens itself up to you on its annual house tour May 7. | Photo by Smallbones via Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Main Line actually begins on the Philadelphia side of the city line,in the historic neighborhood known as Overbrook Farms. And on May 7, you can see how the birthplace of the Main Line is faring now on the Overbrook Farms Club’s annual House Tour and Tea.

Laid out in 1892 as a residential suburb for the well-to-do, Overbrook Farms attracted some of the city’s most successful industrialists, businessmen and politicians from its outset. Its huge architect-designed homes remain hot properties to this day, and the neighborhood’s status as a National Register historic district means its character will likewise be preserved for the future. Read more »

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 »

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