Installment 14 - Film Exchange Building - Marked as Cooperative Cooking Space

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Excerpt:

Over the last five years, Philadelphia’s co-working market has blossomed. The concept now has the potential to evolve and accommodate more sectors of industry. What remains underexplored is shared, food production space. From ice cream makers to dog treat bakeries, there is a growing collection of niche, culinary businesses that need more space to cook. Many operate out of their home kitchens, unable to cover the costs of renting an industrial kitchen on their own for expanded production. 

With the Film Exchange Building, we decided to explore a space that accommodates cooks on a budget and in need of commercial production space. In the spirit of creative reuse, we took things a few steps further with a proposal of converting this Modern beauty into a gluten-free, co-cooking center.


Installment 13 - Graffiti Pier - Marked as Graffiti Park

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Excerpt:

Cars line up on the weekend along Beach Street at the entrance to the city’s best outdoor art space, Graffiti Pier. The former anthracite coal-loading pier, part of Reading Railroad’s sprawling Port Richmond Yards, was decommissioned and abandoned by current owners Conrail in 1991. Nature and graffiti writers have since reclaimed the hulking, concrete pile. Today, the pier is a widely popular destination among locals and explorers of all stripes who treat the industrial ruins like an evolving folk art museum and a riverside park.

Although Graffiti Pier is still considered private property, it is one of the most Instagrammed places in Philadelphia and has become a magnet for curious day trippers across the region. The allure of the pier’s endless rotation of graffiti art, magnificent views of the Delaware waterfront, and accessible, well-trodden paths makes it an ideal candidate for the acquisition and reuse as an official public park.

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Installment 12 - Fidelity Trust Company - Marked as a Cafe, Market and Community Start-Up

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Excerpt:

One building typology to survive the decimation of Philadelphia's shopping avenues is the commercial bank, often with neoclassical architectural elements. Some of them are still used for their original purpose, but most others have been adapted for new uses - a pharmacy, fast food restaurant, and grocery among them. At 1019-1021 West Lehigh Avenue, adjacent to a former Philadelphia Savings Fund branch occupied by Citizen's Bank: the former North Philadelphia branch of the Fidelity Trust Company.


Installment 11 - Roosevelt Theater - Marked as a Photography and Filmmaking Education Center for Teens

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Excerpt:

The facade of the former Roosevelt Theater at 4739 Frankford Avenue rises up from street level with elegant distinction, caught in a perpetual face-off with the growling elevated tracks of the Market-Frankford Line. The ivory front wears a classical gown of stately columns, pilasters, and a heavy cornice complete with a dentil band. Its graceful elevation is interrupted by a metal roll-up garage door securing the main entry. Shadow lines and wide shoulders of the building's frontage lends a dramatic presence that stands apart from the whey-faced brickwork that fills in the rest of the block.


Installment 10 - Cunningham Piano Building - Marked as a Design and Production Textile Studio

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Excerpt:

The Cunningham Piano Company building at 1312-14 Chestnut Street has a slender footprint just under 4,000 square feet. Proportionally, the building's upright posture stands headstrong among its surrounding peers with 15 elegant stories that yield 58,000 square feet of unused, skyward real estate. This thin slice of Center City once served as the administrative and sales headquarters for the Cunningham Piano Company, established in the late 19th century by P.J. Cunningham. It was built in 1924 and designed by architect Andrew J Sauer for $2 million dollars. Beautiful details on the building once included CUNNINGHAM as a brass inlay at the street entrance with the text MCMXXIII as bookends. Cunningham's name still flanks the building's long party walls along with a cluster of ghost signs from past tenants...A nod to Philadelphia's often underrepresented industrial heritage felt appropriate while thinking about possible reuse for the space.


Installment 9 - Philadelphia Divinity School Chapel - Marked as an Indoor Rock Climbing Gym

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Excerpt:

With this schematic design we focus on the main floor of the chapel. The building's most prominent features are the height and overall grandiosity of the space, a common characteristic in religious Gothic architecture. When evaluating adaptive reuse options we kept revisiting the chapel's height and clever ways to connect with it through user experience, while not breaking up the space by putting in additional floors nor completely compromising the ornamentation. As an indoor rock climbing gym visitors can literally scale the walls, attaining unique views of the interior architecture that would otherwise be inaccessible from the ground. The chapel has stunning stained glass windows that bring vibrant natural light into the space. This proposed use also allows the preservation of most of the interior partitions and all exterior walls in our exploratory design.


Installment 8 - Northern Savings Bank - Marked as an Art Gallery

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Excerpt:

The muscular granite and stone bank at 600 Spring Garden Street, at the edge of the Callowhill industrial district, has been heavily altered over the years, but still holds much of its original design aesthetic on the north and east facades. This landmark, the Northern Savings Fund bank, was designed by the renowned Philadelphia architects Frank Furness and George Hewitt and erected between 1872 and 1873 for the Northern Savings Fund & Safe Deposit Company. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, making historic preservation tax credits available to the owner of the building. Northern Savings Fund was also placed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 1978 and agin in 2010. However, it appears that demolition of the buildings additions and significant alterations have occurred both inside and out between this dates, which implies that the building remains vulnerable in a long economically strained industrial neighborhood currently experiencing a revival. We propose to adapt the building for an art gallery to aid in preserving the remaing portions of this architectural work by Furness & Hewitt.


Installment 7 - Warwick Apartments - Marked as a Boutique Hotel

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Excerpt:

The Warwick Apartment House speaks of a time when painters, musicians, writers and intellectuals roamed the streets of Rittenhouse seeking inspiration and creative guidance. With this in mind, we propose the faithful restoration of the Warwick apartment house for a design-forward boutique hotel with extended stay options for burgeoning artists and creative professionals. The building's proximity to dining, bars, Rittenhouse Square, the Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, not to mention the Mutter Museum and the Schuylkill River Trail, provides the sweetest distillation of Philly life Center City has to offer. Notably, this hotel sector is underdeveloped in Philadelphia in comparison to peer cities.


Installment 6 - Mercantile Library - Marked as a Medical Industrial Design Co-Working Space

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Excerpt:

With the building's immediate proximity to Jefferson University, its health center, and innovation lab in mind, we would endeavor to restore the sleek grace of the Mercantile Library back to it's airy, original form to be used as a co-working space for medical industrial designers. The potential for partnership between Jefferson and the co-working enterprise is considerable and would make an ideal union when considering funding prospects for the project, human resource sharing, and research cross-pollination. Medical industrial design is a growing field, with enormous potential in Philadelphia considering the city's two significant I.D. programs (at Drexel University and Philadelphia University) are both connected to medial institutions, Hahnemann and Jefferson, respectively.


Installment 5 - Shawmont Station - Marked as a Schuylkill River Trail Visitors Center

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Excerpt:

Shawmont Station at 7700 Nixon Street in Roxborough is the oldest extant passenger rail station in the country and the oldest building owned by any railroad company in the world. The 189-year-old station, once active on Regional Rail’s Norristown Line, is listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. SEPTA, which became owners of the station in 1981, expressed interest in saving the structure with community-backed renovations late last year, but no definite plans are forthcoming. Despite these controls in place to eventually save the structure from further deterioration, the Greek Revival passenger station still sits rotting and in deep disrepair as it waits for the saving grace of a creative, preservation-minded intervention. With the proximity of the Schuylkill River Trail and Manayunk Towpath in mind, and inspired by ideas that were proposed at a Shawmont Civic Association community meeting in November 2013, we propose putting the building to use as an outdoor sports visitor center and interpretive rail station museum.


Installment 4 - Police Administration Building - Marked as Youth Outreach Offices and Community Center

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Excerpt:

Repurposing the Roundhouse into a small hotel or apartment building might be a no-brainer. The building’s close vicinity to the the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the surrounding view of Franklin Square, the seemingly endless grid of unobstructed windows providing natural light, and the immediate proximity of both Chinatown and Old City all make living or lodging very attractive for reuse, or for demolition and new construction (despite the building’s iconic shape and role in the city’s history, it isn’t listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places and therefore protected from demolition). However, we decided to go in an entirely different direction and wanted to extend the building’s life of serving the public, particularly with the city’s young in mind. We propose renovating the cylinder closest to Franklin Square into office suites for youth outreach, counseling, and educational services and outfitting the opposing cylinder into a community center.


Installment 3 - Robinson Building - Marked as a Documentary Movie Theater Complex

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Excerpt:

The Robinson Building at 1020 Market Street is an iconic example of Center City’s mid-century commercial hey day. Originally a budget women’s wear department store, it was built in 1946 from the designs of partnering architects Victor Gruen and Elise Krummeck. Gruen was a pioneer of modern retail architecture and is regarded as the father of the shopping mall. The building on Market Street is rumored to be the last one of the last of 11 Gruen-designed Grayson-Robinson stores still standing. Over the years various tenants have moved in and out of the street level suites. The building was recently purchased and the suites have since been vacated.

When exploring a potential use for the building, we were motivated to preserving the front façade, creating an exact replica of the original signage which had such an iconic presence during the department store’s tenure. However, this also required our schematic design to embrace the Market Street-facing elevation that has minimal fenestration. Inspired when it occurred to us that one building type that thrives on windowless spaces are movie theaters, we realized this building was destined to be a cinema.


Installment 2 - Engine 46 - Marked as a Belgian Restaurant and Gourmet Chocolate Shop

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Excerpt:

The old fire house's potential reuse for themed dining is too seductive to avoid, so with our design concept we felt it only appropriate to celebrate the origin of Flemish architecture with a Belgian restaurant and gourmet chocolate shop. Our concept board conveys the richness of Flemish architecture and interior design. We also pulled inspiration from the middle ages and a concept menu that would reflect that of the Lowland Burgundian Era - specialty game meats with rich sauces and complemented by potato dishes, red wine, and and extensive list of Belgian Beer. A model for this nationality immersion concept and vertical integration of bar, restaurant, and sweet shop, might be the Gran Caffe L'Aquila on Chestnut Street in Center City.


Installment 1 - District Health Center #1 Marked as an Arts Therapy Center

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Excerpt:

Marked Potential began with the assumption that every building I examined would result in an exploration of a very different utilization than the building’s former use. However, after examining the Integrated Project Dossier by seven Historic Preservation graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania, it became quite clear that Center #1 should continue being used for healthcare. Many other projected reuses could have the potential of feeling forced. This ties back to Louis Kahn’s classic theoretical architectural question, “What do you want, Brick?” When we asked the structure what alternative uses would it find suitable, Center #1 seemed to unwaveringly answer, “I want to continue on as a facility for wellness.”

With healthcare in mind, we tried to take a step back and look at the big picture. Placed at the intersection of Broad and Lombard Streets, Center #1 is surrounded by vibrant performing arts venues. The University of the Arts is located across the street. It would only seem natural to repurpose the building as a center for arts therapy, specifically, a wellness facility focused on visual art, music, and dance therapy.