Scannapieco Officially Finishes 500 Walnut

In addition to taking the wraps off his building, developer Tom Scannapieco (right) presented a check for $10,000 to Museum of the American Revolution CEO Michael Quinn. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Perhaps the person most surprised at pulling off the feat that is 500 Walnut is Tom Scannapieco himself.

His goal, he told the assembled audience at today’s formal unveiling of the finished product, was to give Philadelphia “a world-class building the likes of which the city has never seen before.”

Thanks to a clever act of architectural legerdemain from Cecil Baker + Partners and top-quality work from builder Intech Construction, he delivered just that. And when he sold the building’s bi-level top-floors penthouse for a record-shattering $17.6 million while the concrete was still being poured, he also demonstrated that there were Philadelphians out there who wanted to live in just such a building.

But he hadn’t expected that more than two-thirds of the high-rise condo’s units would be sold by the time the doors opened. “So I think we got it right,” he said. Read more »

1911 Walnut to Be Mixed-Use, Mixed-Income Project

The Sansom Street elevation of the revised Southern Land tower proposed for 1911 Walnut. The Warwick Apartments, part of the revised development, are at the extreme left. | Renderings: Southern Land Company

Southern Land Company appeared before the City Planning Commission today with a revised version of its proposed apartment tower on the last piece of open land right on Rittenhouse Square.

Preservationists will be pleased with one of the two biggest revisions the company made to its proposal, and for those who’ve longed to live on Rittenhouse Square but simply don’t have the scratch, the second is a dream come true.

Plan Philly reports that at today’s Planning Commission meeting, the company presented a proposal that preserves both the Rittenhouse Coffee Shop and the Warwick Apartments, both of which had been slated to fall to the wrecking ball in earlier versions of the project. Both of those buildings will be rehabbed to provide affordable housing units, and the tower itself will contain at least eight more below-market-rate apartments. 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 »

How Philly Can Avoid a Skyline of Bland, Boxy High-Rises

Photo by Jauhien Sasnou.

Photo by Jauhien Sasnou.

As one of the city’s most accomplished architects, Cecil Baker has set the pace for modern living spaces for 35 years. (He’s the brains behind the Western Union Building, 500 Walnut, Inglis Gardens and One Riverside, to name a few.) And as a member of the city’s four-year-old Civic Design Review panel, he also holds sway over future design.

He’s not shy about voicing his opinion, either: When one garden-variety apartment building dotted with ubiquitous square bay windows came before the panel, he fired off a quip about its “SpongeBob SquareBays.” He offers similar insight here into the state of modern architecture in Philly — what we could have, why we don’t have it, and the architects who can give it to us. Read more »

Dranoff Celebrates Topping-Off of One Riverside

The beam guests signed at the ceremony may be purely symbolic, as One Riverside's frame is largely complete, but it symbolizes years of planning and construction as well as the last piece in the transformation of the Schuylkill riverbank from dump to jewel. | Photos: Sandy Smith

The beam guests signed at the ceremony may be purely symbolic, as One Riverside’s frame is largely concrete, but it symbolizes years of planning and construction as well as the completion of last piece in the transformation of the Schuylkill’s east bank from dump to jewel. | Photos: Sandy Smith

As joggers, dog owners, bicyclists, kids and their parents enjoyed the balmy weather down at street level in Schuylkill River Park yesterday evening (May 25), eight floors up, invited guests, local politicians and some very happy future residents basked in the temporary air conditioning as they joined developer Carl Dranoff and architect Cecil Baker at a “park in the sky” for the ceremonial topping-off of Dranoff’s One Riverside apartment tower.

Guests signed a ceremonial beam on their way to the construction lifts and mingled to the music of the Philadelphia String Quartet before and after Dranoff, Baker and the electeds spoke.

In his remarks to the assembled guests, Dranoff showered praise on all the parties involved in bringing the project to fruition. “It took hard work and three years of planning and construction under pretty intense conditions to transform our vision from blueprints into a stunning addition to our skyline.” Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: The View of 500 Walnut

Architects attending last weekend's AIA convention get a hard hat tour at one remove of the 500 Walnut construction site. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Architects attending last weekend’s AIA convention get a hard hat tour at one remove of the 500 Walnut construction site. | Photos: Sandy Smith

There’s luxury high-rise living, and then there’s luxury high-rise living.

The first kind offers you space where the builder has done the heavy lifting and lets you outfit it from a range of high-end accoutrements; you can supply the interior designer to give it some of your own personality.

Tom Scannapieco specializes in the second kind, the kind where you shape the entire space from the layout to the details to suit your desires. This style of development has redefined the upper end of the luxury market in Philadelphia, and last Thursday, he explained how he raised the bar to a group of architects in town for the American Institute of Architects convention, who also got to see his latest ultra-luxury project as it rises from the ground. Read more »

Boyd Theatre Project: Will Cecil Baker’s Design Redo Make the Grade?

Boyd Theatre, Chestnut Square, Pearl Properties

The new tower would rise 32-stories above the street | Rendering by Cecil Baker + Partners and Pearl Properties via Philadelphia Historical Commission

It looks as though the long, winding saga of the redevelopment of the Boyd Theatre could soon come to an end. Well, what’s left of the old movie palace at 1910 Chestnut Street anyway.

Pearl Properties has been busy demolishing the structures surrounding the historic Boyd and Alexander Building on Chestnut and 19th streets, respectively, and the developer is set to unveil the final piece of what has become an incredibly complicated puzzle: the residential tower that they hope will soon rise from the remains of the auditorium on Sansom Street.

Philadelphia Historical Commission’s Architectural Committee, who ultimately denied Pearl’s initial offering in May, will weigh-in on the plans during their meeting on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.

Will this updated proposal fly? Let’s check it out.

Read more »

Cecil Baker-Designed Bi-Level Penthouse on Chestnut Street Boasts Massive Deck

TREND images via Redfin/Plumer & Associates Inc.

TREND images via Redfin/Plumer & Associates Inc.

Last time we checked in on 1737 Chestnut, it was at the lovely 11th floor unit that offered you a chance to get in on the Rittenhouse views without necessarily breaking the million-dollar mark. Today is decidedly different, as unit 1200 has been revamped by Philly’s own Cecil Baker and Chris Beardsley Architects to provide a heightened experience at 18th and Chestnut.

Sure, it’s one floor higher than 1100, but at 2,974-square-feet, it’s also much bigger than the unit below and, at $1,690,000, it’s a lot more expensive as well. To literally put the cherry on top, there’s a massive deck with skyline and Rittenhouse Square views.

Read more »

Headlines: Cecil Baker Tells It Like It Is at Civic Design Review

Screenshot of 401 Race perspective rendering | Image via

Screenshot of 401 Race perspective rendering | Image via

Cecil Baker is on a roll (not purposely, but still) and we love it! Just days after finding out his Candy Factory Home in Queen Village was sold, PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey brings us this account of a recent Civic Design Review meeting during which the renowned architect, a member of the Committee, told it like it was to a developer looking to put a 216-unit residential complex in Old City.

According to Brey, Priderock Capital Partners’ Head of Real Estate Development Christopher Todd went before the committee to unveil the design of 401 Race. The development would fall right off the rejuvenated Independence Mall area, smack near some of Philadelphia’s treasured historical structures.

Failing to meet Baker’s standards, which Brey writes was caused by the “disrespectful” would-be building materials (“a mixture of metal and synthetic paneling and brick”), the architect had some choice words for Todd about the proposed project (emphasis ours):

“You are on the most historic acre in the United States,” said Cecil Baker, pounding his hand against the conference table. “This is not a place for broken-down architecture.

“This building has to look like an important, civic-minded building …” said Baker, who has designed the luxury condo tower rising at 500 Walnut Street, as well as Carl Dranoff’s One Riverside development on the Schuylkill. “Go back to the architecture and think about what it means to be on Independence Mall. It has got to be a great goddamn building.”

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Stop the Presses: Cecil Baker’s Candy Factory Home in Queen Village Has Sold

TREND images via Redfin

TREND images via Redfin

These days, you’ll see the name of renowned architect Cecil Baker attached to crazy awesome skyscraper projects. Heck, you might even come across some of his on-the-market residential work if you’re lucky. But prior to Baker becoming an architectural favorite, there were the early days that some recent grads might benefit from hearing (lift their spirits, you know?).

A 2008 article on Residential Architect recalls Baker’s humble beginnings in Philadelphia and the familiar “can’t find a job in my field” lurch in which he and three colleagues found themselves. The dearth in available design work, it seemed, could only be remedied by taking matters into their own hands.

From the Residential Architect:

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