The Best Architectural Review of a Wawa

Can someone get Harrison Blackman to review the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center when it’s completed? Would he think it’s giving West Philly the finger too?

I ask because Mr. Blackman recently wrote a marvelous review of the fancy new Wawa at Princeton’s renovated Dinky station. Apparently, this branch of the beloved PA store has all the markers of a sophisticated city home, complete with skylight, wood-paneled bathroom stalls and a distinctly modern design by Rick Joy.

Here’s a snippet (although I recommend you read the piece in its entirety):

Adjacent to all this is the new Wawa, a black-onyx proposition with large windows that is part Wawa, part stealth fighter. One half expects Michael Caine’s character from “Interstellar” to step outside and announce that once he has solved the problem of gravity and that he has transformed the WaWa into the premier spaceship of our generation.

My roommate said he thought the Wawa looked like a prison. I disagreed, saying that if the new Wawa looked like a prison, then it was the sexiest prison I had ever seen.

The Dark Wawa Rises [Daily Princetonian]

Pros You Should Know: Meadowbank Designs

phillymag pros you should know - Meadowbank Designs

TRENDS we’re SEEING // Gray is the new beige; neutrals with pops of color; antique brass hardware in kitchens. Chintz is back, with modern, fresh coloring and patterns.

IF YOU’RE DOING A TOTAL RENOVATION // Have your entire team — architect, interior designer, landscape architect, contractor — on the same page. Pay attention to the architecture of your home, and find a style that complements the interior and the exterior. If you’re on a budget, work in phases, with a master plan.

TO DO THIS SEASON // Visit Terrain and Valley Forge Flowers for interesting seasonal decor, and treat yourself to a custom flower arrangement on the dining table for the arrival of holiday guests. Be on the hunt for outdoor furniture sales, to be ahead of the game for spring.

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From Bomb Scares to Parking Payoffs: Philadelphia’s Top 7 NIMBY Battles

A screenshot from the Great Experiment film series.

A screenshot from the Great Experiment film series.

“Pennsylvania is timely Case Study A for witnessing the impact of the not-in-my-back-yard movement against casino development,” the Gaming Industry Observer reported in 2009 when both the planned Foxwoods and SugarHouse casinos, despite being licensed, were still stalled after two and a half years. Each of those situations turned out quite differently (see below) but the trade publication chalked up the delays to “fierce local opposition”; Philly doesn’t play when it comes to NIMBY battles.
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ThinkFest Recap: Why the New Comcast Skyscraper Will Be Great for Philly

Missed Thinkfest? Not to worry, we have a social media roundup of the highlights. Here’s one of Comcast Senior Vice President Karen Buchholz telling us why the upcoming Comcast Innovation and Technolgy Center will be great for the city:

Karen Buchholz, senior vp, Comcast, makes a case for the new Comcast building in 15 seconds. #ThinkFest

A video posted by Philadelphia Magazine (@phillymag) on

Morning Headlines: The Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk Makes Philadelphia Better

Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk | Photograph by Laura Kicey

Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk | Photograph by Laura Kicey

What raises the quality of a city? According to Better! Cities & Towns editor Robert Steuteville, there are four things that are key creating a “strong sense of place” within any given town: walkability, the presence of culture and arts, history and its preservation and, finally, a “connection to nature.”

Does that sound like any place you know?

Philadelphia may meet the first three, but it’s only in the last few years that the last element has started to move toward reaching its full potential. Steuteville points to New York’s High Line as a dramatic example of this city-nature relationship, but says Philly now has a similar thing going on with its Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk:
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House of the Week: A Frank Weise Modernist Marvel on Lombard Street

1201 Lombard St, Philadelphia, PA, 19147

1201 Lombard St, Philadelphia, PA, 19147

Holy mackerel, a Frank Weise home is for sale!

Admittedly, I’ve only been familiar with Mr. Weise’s work for 90 minutes. Modern Homes Philadelphia, a website that acts as a resource for those interested in modern architectural living in the area, has a whole slew of images and information on the architect’s jaw-dropping buildings.

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Morning Headlines: 500 Walnut Gets Design Approval Recommendation

500Walnut-Rendering-new copy The proposed 500 Walnut tower that would overlook Independence Hall may have already received zoning approval, but its developer and architect still had one more group to convince for its design last week. This past Friday, they got just that as the Philadelphia Historical Commission gave the newly tweaked building an approval recommendation.

PlanPhilly’s Matt Golas reports Cecil Baker, the architect chosen for the Scannapieco Development project, presented his alterations before the commission, the commission’s Architectural Committe and the Philadelphia Art Commission. Changes included a proposal for the use of “greenish glass and metal curtain walls, with areas of stone classing to the base” and “a mix of metal-frame windows and multi-story window walls” for the upper floors.

Baker’s adjustments to 500 Walnut comes from input he received from commission members, local residents and the National Park Service. Here’s more from PlanPhilly: Read more »

Is Designing a Phone More Complex Than Designing a Building?

Morimoto PA Dining Room

Morimoto’s dining room designed by Karim Rashid

The iconoclastic designer Karim Rashid—best known ’round these part as the interior designer of Philadelphia’s Morimoto—was interviewed in the New York Times’ commercial real estate section recently and offered some rather harsh words for those with architecture degrees. Rashid, who does not have an architecture degree but is nonetheless designing buildings, works with a team of architects and engineers to get around the fact that he’s not licensed. But even if it were a problem, he doesn’t sound inclined to go back to school for architecture anytime soon:

I have to say, and I don’t mean this in a pejorative way, that architecture, in a sense the more pedestrian architecture, is generally quite simple compared to industrial design. In other words, it’s far more sophisticated to do something like a mobile phone than it is to do an average building.

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It’s a Bad Week for Architects

A screen shot from a film made by Hugh Petter, who's trying to build the first Frank Lloyd Wright designed-building in the UK. It shows Wright on the TV show "What's My Line?"

A screen shot from a film made by Hugh Petter, who’s trying to build the first Frank Lloyd Wright designed-building in the UK. It shows Wright on the TV show “What’s My Line?”

Two stories worthy of note. The first is about Hugh Petter, a Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiast in England, who has been trying to convince his fellow countrymen to allow him to build what would be the first Wright-designed building in the UK. But the local planning authority, which would have to approve the project (which was given the rare nod by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation), did not know who Frank Lloyd Wright was. Last year they voted against the project, with councillor Bob Cook saying:

“I do not see why we should allow this odd American-designed house in our countryside. Outside of the USA and Japan there is not one Frank Lloyd-Wright designed house. He can’t be that influential if the rest of the world doesn’t want them.”

Petter made the below video to explain:

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