Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Center Opens

The new Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center officially opened on December 20th in West Philadelphia, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.  The $110 million, 160,000-square-foot facility located at 48th and Haverford Avenue provides a range of services for teens and young adults from ages 13 through 20.

The main function of the facility is to provide a short-term residential detention facility with social and educational programs and help guide those accused or found guilty of crimes away from further illegal conduct.  The facility is equipped with 10 classrooms, a gymnasium, a health clinic, outdoor recreation spaces and a garden for residents.  Visitation space includes a play area where volunteers can baby-sit young children and rooms where youth can meet with their families, lawyers, social-service providers and probation officers.  Family Court courtrooms, Judges' chambers and conference rooms are also on site.  This is the largest project constructed by the city to meet LEED standards.  It will also serve as a pilot site for a city-wide effort to employ more women and minority contractors in public projects.


Market East; Realizing it's Full Potential

Despite having rich cultural neighborhoods like Washington Square and China Town, an outstanding transit infrastructure, and attractions like Independence Mall, the Convention Center, and other historic sites, Market East continues to struggle to live up to its full potential, and the city itself consistently lacks in pushing for positive drastic change.  There have been many case studies on how to revive the district but still very little action and a lot of opinion.

One such plan I will discuss, although many drawing have yet to be released to the public, was done by EE&K.  Their plan for Market East creates a vision that is integral with strategy.  One that is not dominated by one use or project, but is characterized by the diversity of forms and activities that have marked Market Street's colorful history.  The plan anchors itself on supporting a more sustainable future for the City by promoting transit ridership, leveraging the city's existing investment in one of the richest transit hubs found in an American City, and improving street-level air quality.

Their vision is based on key strategies for restoring Market Street's role as Philadelphia's Main Street: bringing everyone onto Market Street, focusing on places instead of projects by improving Market Street's pedestrian environment; promoting a mix of uses; and creating a new expanded intermodal transit center.  The plan also creates opportunities for Chinatown and Jefferson to expand and envisions bold new connections to the Delaware River Waterfront and adjacent loft district.


LGBT Senior Housing, Underway With Improved Design

Much Improved rendering

Developers broke ground in late October on Philadelphia's first LGBT-friendly low-income senior housing complex in the heart of Philadelphia's LGBT neighborhoods.  The $19 million project, a first of its kind is being funded with city, state and federal funds.  Resident eligibility requires that you be at least 62 year of age and earn less than 60 percent of the Philadelphia median income.

Old rendering

The project is being co-developed by the Dr. Manus Hirschfeld Fund (dmh), and Pennrose Properties.  The six- story building will be located at 13th and Locust Streets.  It will contain 56 one-bedroom units, a 5,000 square-foot enclosed courtyard, and multipurpose spaces that residents and the larger community can use.  Nearly 2,000 square-feet of retail space will front 13th street, Construction is said to be completed by late 2013.

Philly Trails Gain Much Needed State Funding

Nearly a dozen regional trail projects received state funding late last month, 3 of them are Philadelphia projects.  The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources awarded $1.7 million in Community Conservation Partnerships Program grants to trail projects in Southeastern Pennsylvania.  All of the Philadelphia projects received funding through the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund.

The three projects that received funding are;

Manayunk Bridge- awarded $500,000 toward developing a multi-use trail on the historic concrete bridge that spans the Schuylkill River connecting Philadelphia and Lower Merion Township, providing a link between the Cynwood Heritage Trail and the Schuylkill River Trail.  The $3.5 million project is divided by a unique arrangement between SEPTA, Lower Merion Township and the City of Philadelphia.  As owner of the bridge, SEPTA has leased the structure to Lower Merion Township, leaving the construction portion to the City of Philadelphia.  Maintenance will be divided between the City and Lower Merion.  The City has obtained $3.15 million of the estimated $3.5 million through a combination of sources.  Construction will begin in late 2013.

Poquessing Creek Trail- Received $500,000 for construction of a 1.5 mile loop connecting Junod Playground to Poquessing Creek park and the Benjamin Rush State Park.

Schuylkill River Trail- Received $500,000 toward extending the current trail 1,200 feet from South Street to Christian street.  Plans are to get the Schuylkill River Trail to Bartram's Garden, with an ultimate plan to extend the trail further to Fort Mifflin in South Philadelphia.  In recent construction, crew poured concrete for the boardwalk footings that will link Locust Street to the South Street Bridge.


Spruce Street Plaza; Sprucing Up Spruce

Spruce Street Plaza, which began renovation back in July of a former parking lot, will soon stand as the green gateway to Penn's Medical campus, integrating and providing more accessibility to surrounding institutions.

The $2.5 million plaza designed by Matthews Nielsen Landscape Architects, will now sport plenty of seating for museum and hospital employees and visitors to relax and commune, new trees and shrubs all planted around a curving permeably paved path, surrounding a newly sodded lawn.


Student Housing at 40th and Pines Gets Approval

On Wednesday afternoon, the Zoning Board of Adjustments approved by vote of 4-1, a handful of variences for developer Jonathan Weiss's proposed 122-unit apartment building at the corner of 40th and Pine streets.  the developer sought variances for number of units( 2 units permitted, 122 proposed), number of parking spots (122 spaces required, o proposed), and maximum height (38 feet permitted, 58.5 feet proposed).  The proposed replacement to the historic building that currently rests at the site, and owned by the University of Pennsylvania would be marketed to graduate students.

Phase II Penn Connects Expansion

Paseo Verde; Transit Oriented Affordable Housing

The Associación de Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) has partnered with the Jonathan Rose Companies, of New York, and Wallce, Roberts and Todd to develop Paseo Verde.  Meaning "green way" in Spanish, Paseo Verde is to be major new mixed-use development at 9th and Berks, in Lower North Philadelphia with slated completion for summer 2013.  The 1.9-acre brownfield site will be replaced with a 120 Transit Village Residences for low and moderate income families, 67 market-rate and 53 affordable housing one, two and three-bedroom apartments.  The mix use will also include about 30k sqft of commercial space, which includes a health center operated by Public Health Management Corporation and new headquarters for (APM). The remainder of the commercial space will be used as a community center for residents to congregate, host meetings, and access technological resources.

The Jonathan Rose Company, principal in Paseo Verde, was also principal in the Bronx's Via Verde which opened last year in September 2011. Via Verde has set a new standard for green, high-density, urban affordable housing. Unlike Via Verde, Paseo Verde is transit-oriented, position directly adjacent to the Temple regional rail train station.  The future project will link residents, workers and students to one of the busiest transit stations outside of Center City, and represent the culmination of a decade-long planning effort by APM to revitalize the surrounding neighborhood and successfully reintegrate the local community into both the neighboring Temple University campus, and the broader urban fabric beyond.  The project is designed to attain the highest levels of LEED for Homes and LEED for Neighborhood Development certification.

Diamond Green Apartments

Extremely generic in design but a positive alternative to a very large vacant lot on the edge of Temple University's campus in North Philadelphia, The completed Diamond Green Apartments adds 92 additional residential units for Temple students.  The building contains 12K sqft of first floor retail space with 92 2-bedroom and 4-bedroom apartments on the upper four floors.  Other amenities include round the clock security, laundry facilities, balconies, lounges and parking.  Rental rates start at $650 per furnished bedroom.

New $100 million Temple Student Housing

Philly.com reports, the Goldenberg Group has started construction on a $100 million student apartment building next to Temple University on the site of the former John Wanamaker Middle School with a 2014 completion date. The original plan was to renovate the school into student apartments, with community space and a charter school for the Bright Hope Baptist Church, currently located across the street.  The Bright Hope Baptist Church still remains part of the project as an equity partner with a 10% stake, money they say they will use to fund a new charter school.

The new 14-story residence will be located in the 100 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue, adding 832 beds for Temple Students.  The project is the third to add much-needed housing for Temple.  The university is building a 1,000-bed dormitory on North Broad Street and Mosaic Development partners of West Philadelphia is finishing construction of Diamond Green Apartments for an additional 350 students near the Temple University train station.  The projects will  relieve pressure among Temple's rising ranks of students to find housing on or near campus, said Ken Lawrence, a senior vice president of government relations at Temple.  This will surely help to alleviate clashes between local residents and the over 5,000 Temple students living in off campus housing.


Soak It Up!

The Philadelphia Water Department, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Community Design Collaborative invite architects, landscape architects , engineers, and other professionals to enter an interdisciplinary design competition promoting innovative green storm water infrastructure for Philadelphia and other cities.  Soak It Up, sponsored by Infill Philadelphia, is the name of the competition who's mission is to revitalize urban neighborhoods through green storm water infrastructure.

Selected sites are a Industrial: Warehouse Watershed in Hartranft, North Philadelphia; Commercial: Retail Retrofit in Grays Ferry, South Philadelphia; Neighborhood: Greening the Grid in Queen Village, South Philadelphia.  Nine finalist will be selected to present at an awards event in Philadelphia on March 7, 2013 at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.  One winning design will be selected for each of the three sites by jury.  Each winning team will receive a cash prize of $10,000.


Shareway 2030; Audi Urban Future Award Winner

Imagine a stream-lined transportation network throughout the North East linking major cities from Washington D.C. to Boston, a network where transportation, commerce and trade, communication, and inhabitation all flow through a continuous circuit.  This is exactly the sort of thing designers around the globe have been planning for years now.  Our cities are expanding at astronomical rates, along with evolutions in technology, demands on resources, and the speed of communication and accessibility. Urban expansion is not only happening in countries like China and India where you see new cities popping up every day.  It is happening right here in the Northeastern United States.

Cities and towns along the I-95 Corridor from Boston to Washington D.C. are growing to the point where they are beginning to overlap, sharing the burdens of a taxing developmental footprint and the demand on resources created by populations that inhabit them.  Boston-based Howler + Yoon Architecture has created an ambitious scheme: "a re-imagination of the highway as the 'Shareway' that unifies the I-95 corridor between Boston and Washington D.C. into a megaregion called 'Boswash'.

The central idea is for all modes of transport-commuter and freight trains, cars, bikes, and pedestrians- to "co-exist on a multi-level track designed to prevent traffic jams," writes Josh Rubin at Cool Hunting. To support the Shareway, the firm wants to create a "Superhub" in Newark that would contain an airport, seaport, rail station, and interstate intersection, along with parking and storage.  The firm's wide-ranging scheme also includes house-sharing programs and a proposal to convert vacant Baltimore land into agricultural fields.