Tag Archives: Architecture

A Proposed Modern Look for Society Hill’s Historical District

Mother Bethel seems to be the talk around town lately. In Society Hill‘s historical district of Philadelphia, one can walk on cobble stone streets while admiring the redbrick row homes that house years of history for Philadelphia. Historic Mother Bethel AME Church which sits at 6th and Lombard street may soon have neighbors.

An apartment building is being proposed to occupy the parking lot space at 6th and Addison. Although this six unit, four story apartment building would bring in new residents, it also would be constructed under modern design. The exterior of gray brick and stucco with large, overhanging bay windows would be quite the black sheep in this redbrick historical area. Neighbors and Society Hill Civic Association’s Zoning and Historical Preservation Committee members have voiced concerns for this project. Many feel that the point of having a historical district is to have the community’s support for respecting the historical landmarks and structures in the community.

092513_church_600(Image Source: philly.com)

To top off the design, the new building’s air conditioning compressors would be facing into the stained glass windows of Mother Bethel. Rev. Mark Tyler held a prayer vigil recently asking that the commission follow the right path and preserve historical integrity. Hoping the prayer would lead to better judgement. These land owners must not be from Philadelphia.. or maybe its a lack of history appreciation. All we know is that Mother Bethel deserves some sunlight through their stained glass windows, not a rumbling AC shadow.

mother-bethel-church-600(Image Source: visitphilly.com)

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Split-Levels Replacing Pain Center

Front elevation

How it will look like. Courtesy the Philadelphia Real Estate Blog.

The Philadelphia Real Estate Blog got us a first look last week at the new split-levels replacing the Pain Center at 12th and Lombard, a rather dated 1970s-era structure.

How it looks today. Courtesy Philaphilia.

Designed by ubiquitous local architects Harman Deutsch, these structures will come with a 2-car rear garage with decks on top, as well as the firm’s idiosyncratic design. We’ll have more details as and we learn about them!

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A New Restaurant For the Kimmel Center?

As reported on Plan Philly, the Art Commission has given its final approval for a proposed new restaurant facing Spruce Street in the Kimmel Center.

Designed by the KieranTimberlake firm, this restaurant will be a Jose Garces (of Amada, Tinto, Distrito, Chifa, Village Whiskey, Garces Trading Company, JG Domestic fame, and Iron Chef) venture.

Watch this site for more details as soon as they come!

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Dilworth House

A brouhaha on Washington Square? Yes indeed–for the better part of a decade now, a major condo proposal has lingered on its east side, behind 1950s-mayor Richardson Dilworth’s former residence, bisecting the two halves of the Athenaeum. This Turchi offering, including an expansion of that storied institution into Dilworth’s house financed by a 15-story Robert Venturi-designed condo structure behind, has caught the attention (and wrath) of preservation advocates, and a long train of Plan Philly stories.

Update: Commonwealth Court upholds Dilworth House appeal

The proposal. Courtesy Plan Philly.

So, as the developer and the community fight one another, the site sits, a minor black hole on the square’s duller east side.

Stay tuned–we will have more information as and when court rulings happen it becomes available!

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New Condos In Society Hill


Traditionally suburban home developer Toll Brothers–of Naval Square fame–has set its sights on Society Hill, with a 69 unit, 68 feet tall condo unit by Headhouse Square, in the NewMarket site, as Plan Philly reports. With red brick and limestone wainscoting, this structure is deeply respectful of its historic surroundings.

Designed and contracted in-house, this project will also feature a small public space on the Headhouse Square side. Take a look at the renders and see for yourself.

Nevertheless, some near neighbors remain opposed to the structure: parking and sunlight issues have been brought up. Considering the rather vexed history of this site, we here are crossing our fingers and hoping everything gets worked out, and they are allowed to build.

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Big New Senior Center Going Up by Italian Market


If you’ve been to the corner of 9th and Washington in the Italian Market lately, you’ll have noticed some wood framing sticking up nearby. Take a turn at Ellsworth, a block south, and there it is.


This extremely large new Italian Market senior center is to be called the Cedars Villa, according to the on-site render. K&A Architecture is responsible for the design, and it will have 64 apartments, 25 parking spaces, a community garden, and did we mention that it’s oh-so-close to the Italian Market? Seriously, if you’re eligible, get over there and check it out, it’s awesome.

As it gets closer to the finish line, expect us to check back in on it every so often!

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South Philadelphia News and Updates – 1.7.13

South Philadelphia News and UpdatesSouth Philadelphia News and Updates – 1.7.13

Columbus Square  Upcoming Program Reminders

Zumba Class – Mondays – 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
$6 per class or $25 for five classes.

Yoga Class – Tuesdays – 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
$6 per class or $25 for five classes.

Meredith Elementary School Auction

The Meredith Auction is taking place on Saturday, March 2nd.  Ticket sales begin on January 7th for this annual event.  Tickets include dinner, open bar and entertainment by DJ Johnny Looch!  Check out the Auction Website  for more details.  Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door.  Purchase your tickets by January 31st and receive 5 iPad raffle tickets with each purchase.  Mark your calendars for a fabulous Mardi Gras night on Saturday, March 2nd which will include a silent and live auction.  There are plenty of volunteer opportunities for parents interested in helping.  If you would like to donate or solicit an auction item, please use this auction donation form.  Please contact Donielle at doniellecal@comcast.net and Rebecca at rmakuen@yahoo.com to get involved and help make this event a success.

Gayborhood Event Promoters Workshop

Join a panel of professional promoters share their experainced, tips and tricks of the trade to help you become a better promoter. Workshop will include a panel presentation, Q/A, group discussion and lunch. Duration is approximently bout three hours plus time to network with other promoters. Event includes lunch thanks to Wolf Street Catering. Reserve Tickets online – HERE.

Presenters include:

– Bruce Yelk – NightLifeGay
– Amber Hikes – Stimulus
– Gage  – Twisted Life
– Steve McCann – PhillyGayCalendar

Moderated by Rudy Flesher.

Abandoned Bike Removal/Re-Use:

Abandoned Bikes can be reported using this GOOGLE DOC link.  You can also use 311 to report abandoned bikes to the City of Philadelphia according to this recent announcement. For more information, email Andrew Levitt at levitt.andrew@gmail.com coordinating this effort with the Bicycle Coalition and City.

Captain Ryan’s Monthly Community Meeting

Tuesday Janaury 8th at 6PM. – 3rd District Roll Call Room, 11th & Wharton Street.

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The History of Cianfrani Park

A History of Cianfrani ParkCianfrani Park is an oasis and gem in the heart of Bella Vista. At 8th and Fitzwater, the green space plays host to a myriad of important events that build and strengthen the community. We will look back on it’s history and understand how Cianfrani Park became the hard-won, cherished public space it is today.

Many believe the park is named after former Pennsylvania state senator Henry J. “Buddy’ Cianfrani who lived from 1923 to 2002. Cianfrani was well known for many services to his country.  He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star. However, after winning political office, he also became known for scandal. Cianfrani Park is actually named in honor of Henry’s mother. While Cianfrani’s life was cluttered with drama and headline-making news, the park has also had a tumultuous historical path.

Cianfrani Park sits on land that was once occupied by the Campbell Elementary School. The Campbell School is where Joe Venuti, the proclaimed Father of the Jazz Violin, attended grade school. A plaque at one of the entrances to the park marks this important factoid. Sometime in the 1960’s the school was demolished, thus bringing birth to the park. Neighbors carefully attended and took care of the space. However, by the early 1990’s, the park became a neglected wasteland and eye sore.  A home for the homeless, both dogs and human beings, became the park’s sole purpose.

In 1993, neighbors banded together and created the organization Friends of Cianfrani Park to quickly rehabilitate the park.  Raising funds themselves, these upstanding citizens spent countless hours working towards the common goal of bringing life back to the land. Local architect David Morse observed Friends of Cianfrani Park’s goal was to make the park, “the green heart of our community, everyone’s front yard and urban living room.”

History of Cianfrani Park

The website for the park reads, “With the financial help of many neighbors, small business people and supportive city and state officials, we have accomplished much of it. Gardens fenced with attractive wrought iron, urns overflowing with flowers, benches filled with seniors engaged in conversation, mothers with children playing with pets are all now a reality. Through our efforts, Cianfrani Park is once again the green heart of our community.”

Cianfrani thrives to this day having most recently received First Prize in the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society 2012 City Gardens Contest. Some widely attended events that take place year round include a Summer Concert Series, Spring Festival, and Holiday Tree Lighting, It’s good to know that when people band together and work towards a common goal, great results can be produced. Cianfrani Park is a perfect example of that.

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Bella Vista To Get First Passive House


This word means many things to many people in a myriad of contexts. In the context of real estate and architecture, it has the ability to easily confuse. However, it is important for us to clear the air because passive building is about to be the trend everyone is talking about.  There are currently only a handful of properties in Philadelphia that represent this foreign and rare form of design. The newest plan for Pemberton Street in Philadelphia was just approved by the Bella Vista Zoning Committee last night. Live Love Philly talked about passive construction with Laura Blau of BluPath Design and GreenSteps Consulting who is handling the Pemberton project.

Passive Construction

Above: Original plan for Pemberton that has been modified.

For nearly a decade, Laura Blau and Paul Thompson have worked together at BluPath Design to design simple, elegant and environmentally sensitive spaces. After meeting their clients for Pemberton Street through the Meredith School Silent Auction, they started working towards designing this new residential property to passive construction speciifications. What does that mean? The following is information Ms. Blau provided Live Love Philly.


Passive House buildings, residential or commercial, meet a rigorous energy standard developed in Europe. They are extremely energy-efficient and comfortable, with excellent indoor air quality. They are also better built and more durable, with lower utility costs than most buildings. The Passive House concept slashes heating consumption of buildings by up to 90%. There are over 40,000 Passive Houses worldwide as of 2012. Passive House buildings use the following strategies:

SUPERINSULATED WALLS: In a Passive House, the entire envelope of the building- walls, roof and floor or basement- is super-insulated, depending on the climate and project size. Insulation varies from 6” for California to 16” for Minnesota.

NO THERMAL BRIDGES: Heat flows out of a building on the path of least resistance, through a building element that conducts heat efficiently- a ‘thermal’ bridge. PH construction minimizes or eliminates thermal bridges.

AIRTIGHT CONSTRUCTION: Airtight construction reduces or eliminates drafts and heat loss through exfiltration and infiltration, reducing the need for space conditioning. The airtightness of a building is measured with a ‘blower door’ test. PH construction is very ‘tight’, and is confirmed by multiple blower-door tests during and after construction.

ENERGY RECOVERY VENTILATION: A house and its occupants need to breathe. The ventilator provides a constant supply of fresh air while conserving most of the energy already used to condition the building by using a balanced air-to-air energy recovery system. PH buildings have excellent indoor air quality, whether you open the windows or not.

HIGH-PERFORMANCE WINDOWS AND DOORS: Passive House windows and doors are chosen based on the transmission values of both frame and glazing. PH windows, usually triple pane, are 5+times more efficient than typical windows. Typical windows have a thermal resistance value equivalent to R2, EnergyStar windows may be as much as R3.5 whereas PH windows are R5 to R13 and perform more like a standard building wall. No more drafty windows or leaky doors!

PASSIVE SOLAR DESIGN AND INTERNAL HEAT GAINS: Passive House designs utilize well-known and proven passive solar design principles- building orientation, window size, type and location, sunshading- to manage energy gains and losses. Because of the exceptionally low levels of heat loss from the building envelope, heat generated by appliances, electronic equipment, lighting and people are a significantly source of heat in a Passive House building.

PASSIVE HOUSE PLANNING PACKAGE: Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) is a proprietary energy-modeling tool that helps the designer integrate each of the building elements so the final design will meet the Passive House standard. It has a proven accurate track record.


Passive House standards are met when:

  • Space heating and cooling requirements are less than or equal to 4.75kBtu/ft 2 /yr for new construction and 8.0kBtu/ft2/yr for retrofit. [US commercial building average is 33.00kBtu/ft2/yr, from US EIA 2003 Commercial Buildings Survey]
  • Total primary energy use of the design is less than or equal to 38.1kBtu/ft 2 /yr (120kWh/m2a)
  • Airtightness of the building is verified to be at or below 0.6ACH @50Pa, 1.0ACH@50Pa for retrofit.

(ACH = air changes per hour, Pa = Pascals, unit of pressure).

So why passive? A passive building achieves overall energy savings of 60-70% and 90% of space heating without applying expensive actives technologies. Energy losses are minimized, and gains are maximized. The heat/energy recovery ventilator helps keep energy that has already been generated in the house instead of venting it out. Pemberton Street in Bella Vista is trail blazing the way for more properties to be built that exhibit this extraordinary energy efficiency.  Passive is in.

For more information, feel free to contact Laura and Paul of BluPath at 267.519.3564 or at info@blupath.us.

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Seger Park Playground NOW OPEN!

Seger ParkThis past weekend, Philadelphia experienced warm temperatures throughout the region. Just in time to get get the kids out and about, Seger Park playground in Washington Square West opened on Friday!

Drew, my 8 year old daughter, loved all the new equipment added to the playground during our visit over the weekend. Take a stroll over soon to see for yourself all the great improvements made to this community space.

The playground renovations were made possible by The City of Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter, Councilman Frank DiCicco, Councilman Mark Squilla, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Sentaor Larry Farnese and Representative Babette Josephs.

Seger ParkWhile Phase One is finished, the Friends of Seger Park are still raising funds to complete Phase 2 of the project, the Sprayground. The Sprayground is an area where the children of Center City would be able to cool off in a safe, fun place during hot Philadelphia summers. The current water feature is broken, and the cost to repair it is prohibitive. The new sprayground will provide an essential play area and its innovative design will serve as the visual icon for the park. The Friends of Seger Park have already raised $50,000 complete the project, but still have $200,000 to go. To donate to these efforts, click here.

Live Love Philly will be announcing details on a City ribbon-cutting ceremony at Seger when they are revealed.

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