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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
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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.
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Screenshot of 401 Race perspective rendering | Image via Phila.gov
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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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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View from NW corner of 43rd Street & Baltimore Avenue. | Rendering by U3 Ventures, Cecil Baker + Partners, Studio Bryan Hanes. | Image via phila.gov
An update for those who’ve been following the 4224 Baltimore Avenue saga: The mixed-use project has finally reached city review level! After being in limbo for what felt like ages, West Philly Local now reports three April hearings have been scheduled “at the City government offices at 1515 Arch Streets.” The public is encouraged to attend, the Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting being perhaps the most crucial of the three. Dates and times below.
In addition to getting support from the Friends of Clark Park neighborhood group (they really liked the plan), WPL says the proposed 132-unit structure has been approved by the Spruce Hill Community Association and the University City Historical Society. We thought you might want to see the latest rendering and schemes of the project headed by developer U3 Ventures (and designed by architects Cecil Baker + Partners and Studio Bryan Hanes), so we went ahead and put them all in a gallery below– what do you think?
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Rendering of 4224 Baltimore Avenue.
Photo credit: U3 Ventures.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Developers of an apartment project at 4224 Baltimore Ave. will meet with the community to discuss their plans for a 132-unit mixed-use complex. Well, that will be the case again tonight as the Zoning Committee Spruce Hill Community Association will officially hear what more developers U3 Advisors have to say about the stalled project at 43rd and Baltimore Ave. near Clark Park, reports West Philly Local.
The project evolved from a series of neighborhood meetings and was discussed at an open meeting of Spruce Hill zoning last spring. Now that a formal application has been made, the project development team, U3 Advisors, are required to have public meetings with neighbors through community associations.
You may recall that the developers had been meeting with and seeking input from neighbors before having a design for the project, something that even the venerable Inga Saffron marveled at in one of her features of the project.
Saffron’s other feature explains why this project hasn’t seen any movement since April: councilmanic prerogative. Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell had refused to sign off on zoning changes to the site in order for the above design (with retail and upscale, non-student oriented apartments) by Cecil Baker + Partners to be built. Instead, as Saffron points out, the project could only be made profitable under current zoning with a “blocky, three-story apartment house that would be crammed with dormlike units.”
In other words, stay tuned.
• A meeting Monday for community input on the big 4224 Baltimore Ave. project [West Philly Local]
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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 »