Common Threads in This Year’s Rouse Award Residential Finalists

Even Folsom Powerhouse, the most residential of this year's Rouse Award finalists, incorporates mixed uses in the form of an updated take on the traditional corner store. | Photo: Postgreen Homes

Even Folsom Powerhouse, the most residential of this year’s Rouse Award finalists, incorporates mixed uses in the form of an updated take on the traditional corner store. | Photo: Postgreen Homes

The Urban Land Institute Philadelphia District Council announced the finalists for this year’s Willard G. “Bill” Rouse Awards for Excellence last week, and five of the 14 finalists fall into the residential category, at least in part.

And it’s that “at least in part” part that’s one of the most significant common threads connecting the five projects. The message these projects deliver is one that urbanists, developers and planners have all been hammering home in one way or another for more than a decade now: Single-use is out, multitasking is in. (Toll Brothers, please copy.)

Not even the most residential of the five projects is exclusively residential, and that project has many other features that make it a standout. Read more »

AKA University City, (Almost) Ready For Its Closeup

One of the furnished suites tour guests got to inspect. This unit was furnished and equipped like those on the penthouse floors, with even higher-end European appliances and furnishings, including a concealed refrigerator in the kitchen. |Photos: AKA

One of the furnished suites tour guests got to inspect. This unit was furnished and equipped like those on the penthouse floors, with even higher-end European appliances and furnishings, including a concealed Liebherr refrigerator in the kitchen. | Photos: AKA

The last time we toured AKA University City at Cira Centre South, the residence/hotel was largely piles of drywall and warrens of metal studs.

That wasn’t the case on Dec. 7, when AKA President and Korman Communities co-CEO Larry Korman and Brandywine Realty Trust CEO Jerry Sweeney took the wraps off the completed residence and hotel suites in a panel discussion and tour.

The discussion, which took place at Cira Green next door and included panelists from the architects and designers whose work went into the tower and hotel — Mark Shoemaker of Cira Centre supervising architect Pelli Clarke Pelli, Eric Rahe of project architect BLTa, Nicoletta Canesi of Lissoni Associati and Edward Asfour of Asfour Guzy Associates — focused on the evolution and development of what’s being billed as “Philadelphia’s first vertical neighborhood,” a key component of which is AKA University City. Read more »

Michelin-Starred Team Is Opening Restaurant in University City

The restaurant space during a recent hard hat tour of the tower | Photo by Sandy Smith

The restaurant space during a recent hard hat tour of the tower | Photo by Sandy Smith

The team behind New York’s Michelin-starred Rebelle is opening a restaurant in University City’s FMC Tower at Cira Centre South. The restaurant, which will be at the base of the mixed-use tower at 30th and Walnut is expected to open in early 2017. The tower is also home to AKA University City, a mix of luxury hotel rooms and apartment residences occupying the upper floors of the tower.

Read more »

Hard Hat Tour: AKA University City

A construction worker cuts a section of pipe on the amenity floor at the soon-to-open AKA University City. Photos: Sandy Smith unless otherwise noted; renderings: Piero Lissoni

A construction worker cuts a section of pipe on the amenity floor at the soon-to-open AKA University City. Photos: Sandy Smith unless otherwise noted; renderings: AKA

Those of you of a certain age may recall the TV ads for KormanSuites, “when just an apartment just isn’t enough.” The apartments the Korman family offered under that brand came with extra services and amenities — including furniture if you wanted it — and something other apartments at the time didn’t offer at all, which were leases of less than a year’s duration.

The KormanSuites brand was the brainchild of Larry Korman, the oldest of the fourth generation of Kormans to run the family real estate development and management company, and it revealed the existence of a hitherto undiscovered market: people who wanted a nice place to live that offered more than a short-term hotel room could but didn’t need to be tied down to that place for an entire year.

The “extended stay” residence industry that sprang from that discovery has also grown and matured since then, and Korman has continued to play a role in its evolution with its extended-stay residence brand, AKA. Read more »

Sky Candy: 19 New Renderings of the FMC Tower

FMC Tower rendering

Night falls on the FMC Tower at Cira Centre South, to be completed in 2016. Rendering via Brandywine Realty Trust.

Yesterday was the groundbreaking for the much anticipated FMC Tower at Cira Centre South, a development project from Brandywine Realty. It was, not surprisingly, a who’s who of politicians, academics, architects, media folks, planners, builders, real estate bigwigs, developers, and probably even pigeons that are well-known in their community.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell said to the audience, “I don’t know who’s running the city, ’cause all the important people are here.”

That tidbit came from Hidden City, which offered thorough coverage of the event as well as extensive details about the 49-story, 730-foot building itself, which will be “the skyline’s starting point.”

Now, the renderings:

Read more »

Exclusive Preview: Cira Centre South’s EVO and Its Virtual Reality Simulator

evo cira centre south

Photo: Laura Kicey

EVO — probably better known as one half of the new Cira Centre South — has a futuristic and inventive workaround for the fact that the apartment building isn’t finished yet: The Simulation Cube at its leasing office. Designed by VisionaiR 3D’s Maarten van Grinsven, the Cube consists of four walls with a 360-degree surround projection system. When visitors sit at the table in the middle, they are immersed in a virtual reality version of one of many floorplans.

The Cube is the first virtual reality simulator of its kind in Philadelphia and even allows guests to ascend and descend stairs, visiting the building’s future gym as well as its study lounges and common areas. Most stunningly, guests can climb to the building’s roof deck and lounge, wading into the infinity pool and staring out at the Philadelphia skyline while the water ripples around them. It’s practically a cure for seasonal-affective disorder.

Read more »

Saffron: West Philly Boom Is Nice, But Getting There May Be 100 Percent of the Battle

fmc tower

The Inquirer’s architecture critic, Inga Saffron, has occasionally been accused of being too negative — a charge leveled at most good critics at one time or another. In her latest Changing Skyline column, Saffron praises the West Philadelphia building boom in her own subdued way: “It’s nice to see the city’s skyline stretching west.”

You can hear the hesitation shimmer around that period, though, and indeed, Saffron does have a concern: that the Cira Centre South site, where the FMC Tower (rendering pictured) and the Evo building will be, is isolated from the Schuylkill waterfront “by a large, triangular moat, which looks down on the train tracks that feed into 30th Street Station and is one of several barriers that make walking there an unpleasant, and often hair-raising, experience.”

Read more »

Renderings of New FMC Tower That Will Rise in West Philly

fmc tower

Currently, FMC Corporation is at the BNY Mellon building in Center City at 18th and Market, so its new building as part of the Cira Centre South complex will be a change. It’s a locally founded and based company, one that’s been in the Delaware Valley for almost six decades, and its global HQ has been in Philadelphia proper since 2001.

Let’s have a look at the way FMC’s new tower will integrate with the Cira Centre South area. These renderings are all from a presentation posted on Brandywine Realty Trust’s website, hence the page numbers.

Read more »

Breaking: New Giant Skyscraper Announced As Part of Cira Centre South [UPDATED]

Rendering of the high-rise tower to be built at 17th and Market.

Rendering of the high-rise tower to be built at Cira Centre South.

Brandywine Realty Trust and the FMC Corporation have a huge announcement today: FMC will have a new headquarters, and that headquarters will be called FMC Tower at Cira Centre South. The design, like that of the original Cira Centre, will be handled in part by Pelli Clark Pelli. According a press release sent this morning, the building will be the sixth tallest office building in Philadelphia at 650 feet and 47 stories.

It will consist of approximately 830,000 rentable square feet: 575,000 square feet of Class A office space, 10,000 square feet of retail space, and 260 luxury apartment suites with concierge services and market rate rental housing.

Groundbreaking is currently scheduled for mid-2014.

More details to follow… See here for renderings.

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