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 »
Rendering of Cecil Baker design for 500 Walnut Street.
Developer Tom Scannapieco has spent his career surrounded by skeptics — or his career since 1974, at least, when the self-described “urban pioneer” bought property near Spring Garden and created the Wallace Court Condominiums.
He faced doubters again with Waterview, New Hope’s first ultra-luxury residence. “The papers could not believe you could sell million-dollar homes in New Hope,” says Scannapieco. But the houses were gone before the ink on the brochure was dry.
He confronted perhaps his hardiest naysayers with 1706 Rittenhouse, which held its groundbreaking the same week in 2008 that Lehman Brothers went under. Between the building’s record price point and its so-called “B location” (near Rittenhouse Square, but not directly on it), the brokerage and development communities were skeptical. “They’re not in the business of being visionaries,” Scannapieco says. “They only know what they’ve seen work.” Fortunately, 1706 worked. Even during the downturn, it never had to reduce its pricing, and it’s now completely sold out.
Perhaps that’s why there’s so much support for Scannapieco’s latest project, 500 Walnut: a 26-story tower, designed by architect Cecil Baker, that will face Independence Hall. Based on 1706’s success, the brokerage community believes in this venture.
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314-316 Fitzwater Street, Philadelphia, PA
As per the title, this three-story home nestled in Queen Village was designed by renowned architect Cecil Baker. Baker, who studied under Louis Kahn, was last in the news for his renderings of a 26-story glass tower planned for 500 Walnut by Scannapieco Development, as well as his recent urban-friendly redesign of Carl Dranoff’s One Riverside at 25th and Locust.
This early Baker structure is from the ’80s and includes a two-story living room with exposed bricks and beams, a fireplace, and hardwood floors. The tiled eat-in kitchen includes a separate dining room with an adjacent office space and access to a private garden.
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Here’s the first story. And now a few more details, in a formal announcement, below.
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Screenshot of 5th and Walnut corner via Google Street View
If the road to acquiring all the necessary approvals goes smoothly, Tom Scannapieco’s plans for a $150 million residential tower near Independence Hall could begin construction in spring 2015. The 26-story high-rise would include 40 condo units with two penthouses, each of them two stories. Availability is projected for March 2017.
Scannapieco, who developed the condos at 1706 Rittenhouse Square, has hired architect Cecil Baker to design what is being called the “glass needle” tower. However, given the building’s proximity to historical landmarks, certain design requirements must be considered. The Inquirer’s Al Heavens writes, “As a result, the building is designed not to interfere with ‘an onlooker’s view from the Liberty Bell to Independence Hall,’ Scannapieco said.”
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