Hard Hat Tour: The Bridge

A finished model unit at The Bridge, outfitted with furniture from Millésimé | Ligne Roset. | Photos: Sandy Smith unless otherwise noted

A finished model unit at The Bridge, outfitted with furniture from Millésimé | Ligne Roset. | Photos: Sandy Smith unless otherwise noted

Some of 205 Race Street’s Old City neighbors wanted a building at Second and Race streets that respected the neighborhood’s cornice line.

They got one, only with a tower plunked on top of it.

Others worried about the view of the Ben Franklin Bridge. A hole in that tower preserves it.

And both the neighbors and the developer of the building wish the billboard right next to it would just go away.

Well, you can’t get everything you want. But this imaginative green apartment tower gives a lot to both its future residents and its neighbors, as this tour of work in progress should show. Read more »

Designer Style Without the Designer Price in Fishtown: $479K

2323 E. Susquehanna Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19125 | Photos: Plush Image for Lux Living and Custom Philly Homes

2323 E. Susquehanna Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19125 | Photos: Plush Image for Lux-Living and Custom Philly Homes

You may recall that showstopper of a home in Fishtown that we showcased back in June?

Well, Lux-Living, the design firm that produced it, is back with another one.

This larger home, an expanded trinity on a corner lot in Fishtown, is no less sophisticated than its sister, but this time, the home combines elements of traditional elegance with rustic touches that complement its modern feel. Read more »

Jawdropper of the Week: The Wright Stuff in Princeton, $5.995M

64 Cleveland Lane, Princeton, N.J. 08540 | TREND images via Gloria Nilson & Co. - Christie's International Real Estate

64 Cleveland Lane, Princeton, N.J. 08540 | TREND images via Gloria Nilson & Co. – Christie’s International Real Estate

They call this magnificent home on a quiet street just a few blocks from the heart of terminally charming Princeton “La Maison de Verre,” and it does have lots of glass.

But Frank Lloyd Wright wasn’t known for building glass houses; that was Philip Johnson’s stock in trade. He loved to work with many different materials, including wood, stucco, and brick. You’ll find plenty of the first and last of these in this awe-inspiring home that takes a lot of its inspiration from Wright’s Robie House. Read more »

A Pool With A View Proposed for Fishtown Mixed-Use Project

Rendering of the projecting pool proposed for 1220 Frankford Ave. by Morris Adjmi Architects

Rendering of the projecting pool proposed for 1220 Frankford Ave. by Morris Adjmi Architects

Developer Roland Kassis has tweaked and refined the design for his proposed boutique hotel at 1224 Frankford Ave., a project Fishtown residents enthusiastically supported when he brought the first set of renderings before the Fishtown Neighbors Association in February of last year.

The basic structure and elements of the project remain: a new industrial-loft-style building to the north of the existing building at 1220, whose Shepard Fairey mural will become part of the hotel’s interior. A co-working facility with a lounge in its partially sunken cellar in the 1220 building and a jazz club/cafe on the street floor of the new building. A new boutique hotel on the upper floors of the new building, and a members-only pool club on the roof of 1220. Read more »

What Happens When Civic Design Review Works

The version of Lincoln Square that sailed through Civic Design Review Nov. 1....

The version of Lincoln Square that sailed through Civic Design Review Nov. 1….

When designing projects, large or small, architects should take into account more than just the needs and wants of the client in fashioning them. They should also take into account how the project will fit in with (or stand out from) its surroundings and the impact it will have on how the urban fabric functions. A series of videos recently released by BLT Architects (BLTa), one of this city’s largest and best-known firms, gives some insight into how this process works, or is supposed to.

Of course, aesthetic considerations should also come into play, and here, the track record is as mixed as the contextual one is. The building featured in the videos, the BLTa-designed East Market development, is a splendid example of taking urban context into account in site design, but aesthetically, it perhaps fits in too well with its surroundings, with a residential tower that more closely resembles its (former) office-building neighbors than distinguishes itself from them as a place where people will actually live.

The 2012 revision of Philadelphia’s zoning code included a new process intended to prod architects to dive deeper into these aspects of the design process for large projects on both functional and aesthetic grounds. But as the Civic Design Review panel, whose job it is to do the prodding, only plays an advisory role, it remains up to the architect and client to determine whether and how they do that diving. Read more »

This Builder Will Design a Home Around You for Just $300K

The interiors at Studio(e), including the offices, are set up to stimulate clients' imagination. | Photos: Rotelle Development Company

The interiors at Studio(e), including the offices, are set up to stimulate clients’ imagination. | Photos: Rotelle Development Company

Custom-built homes have up until now been the exclusive province of the affluent, much as stylish modern furniture was up until Ikea brought it within reach of the rest of us.

Home builder Peter Rotelle bristles a bit at the Ikea analogy, but his South Coventry-based custom home design studio, Studio(e), has much the same aim: Making great design accessible to everyone.

And he’s doing it the way Ikea did it: by designing the price tag first. You can walk into Studio(e) and walk out with a custom-built home for as little as $300,000.

“Behind the scenes, building a custom home is extremely complex,” Rotelle said. “But we make custom homes affordable and simple.” Read more »

Thos. Moser Joins the Back-to-the-City Movement

Thos. Moser's new Rittenhouse Row showroom, next door to the Apple Store on Walnut Street. | Photos: Scott Spitzer Photography/Thos. Moser unless otherwise noted

Thos. Moser’s new Rittenhouse Row showroom, next door to the Apple Store on Walnut Street. | Photos: Scott Spitzer Photography/Thos. Moser unless otherwise noted

Thos. Moser has been making handcrafted furniture in Maine since 1972 and selling it in Philadelphia since the early 1980s. The company’s affinity for Pennsylvania runs strong and deep, and on Thursday, Nov. 10, Moser returned to Center City, where it opened its first showroom outside Maine.

The new showroom is at 1605 Walnut Street, right next door to the Apple Store. It’s the latest iteration in a four-decade-long love affair with Pennsylvania, said company founder Tom Moser.

Moser started his woodworking business in a Grange hall in New Gloucester, Maine, in 1972. Moser sought to produce high-quality products — furniture, in Moser’s case — that were rooted in a tradition of craftsmanship and made to last. Thos. Moser’s original chairs and other furniture took their inspiration from 19th-century designs, most notably the Shaker and Pennsylvania Dutch traditions, whose emphasis on simplicity embodied the aesthetic Moser wished to display in his furniture. Such furniture, he said, fit in well with the Pennsylvania aesthetic: the stone farmhouses of the Brandywine Valley, the unpretentious brick row homes of Philadelphia. Read more »

Main Line Monday: A Midcentury Modern Masterpiece in Strafford

356 Pugh Rd., Strafford, Pa. 19087 | Photos: Jon Biddle for HomeJab via Keller Williams Luxury Homes International

356 Pugh Rd., Strafford, Pa. 19087 | Photos: Jon Biddle for HomeJab via Keller Williams Luxury Homes International

You’ve seen photos of homes like these in places like Southern California and the Oakland hills.

If you’re the sort of person who hyperventilates at these photos, there’s good news: you now have a chance to live in one without having to move across the country.

Several noted Philadelphia architects also designed homes in the contemporary style we now label as “midcentury modern.” One of the best was Robert McElroy, who produced this beautiful, low-slung home on a one-acre wooded sloping lot on Strafford’s northern fringe. We can also give credit to the architect who owns this home now, for he gave it a top-to-bottom rebuild that updated all of its features and systems while respecting its heritage and style. Read more »

Philly Builder Recognized for High-Tech Solution to a Historic Restoration Problem

The former St. Margaret's School as it looked when Moser bought it in 2014, left, and Forrest Walk today, right. | Left photo: Cheryl Allison, Main Line Media News; all other photos: © Don Pearse Photography, courtesy T.R. Moser

The former St. Margaret’s School as it looked when Moser bought it in 2014, left, and Forrest Walk today, right. | Left photo: Cheryl Allison, Main Line Media News; all other photos: © Don Pearse Photography, courtesy T.R. Moser

When Moser Construction Management decided to undertake its first multifamily residential conversion project, it had two pretty high hurdles to clear. One was repairing the bones of a former Catholic elementary school in Narberth that had deteriorated over the years since the Archdiocese of Philadelphia closed it. The other was making sure it looked the way it did when it opened in 1925, at least on the outside, in order to satisfy Narberth Borough officials.

With a little elbow grease, some thoughtful interior design and some high-tech windows, Moser succeeded at clearing all these hurdles. Last month, Moser owner and operations manager T.R. Moser traveled to Minnesota to receive an award from the manufacturer of the windows, Integrity by Marvin Windows and Doors, and tour the manufacturing plant.

Before getting into why Marvin’s Integrity division bestowed one of its 2016 Red Diamond Achiever Awards upon Moser and his company’s project, let’s tell the story of the project. Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: Van Pelt Mews

Scaffolding surrounds the Walnut Street townhouse in Van Pelt Mews in September. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Scaffolding surrounds the Walnut Street townhouse in Van Pelt Mews in September. | Photos: Sandy Smith

It seems that architect Cecil Baker has the golden touch these days. Not only is he the emergency surgeon of choice for ailing projects, having resuscitated at least two high-profile projects that were going south design-wise with their neighbors, he has produced equally high-profile designs of his own that have won him further acclaim for the way they interact with their sites, in particular a luxury condo tower behind Independence Hall that hides itself from the Liberty Bell.

His latest project may not fall into the high-profile category, but it once again shows why he has become our most praised residential architect.

Van Pelt Mews is a 12-unit luxury townhouse project on Rittenhouse Square’s western fringes that combines the historic restoration of a 19th-century townhouse and carriage house on Sansom Street with nine large new homes fronting on Van Pelt Street. Read more »

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