Philadelphia," A World Class City" What Will It Take?

What will Philadelphia have to do to become a "World Class City"?  Last Monday the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia presented their plan to make our city a world class destination, for both talent and business.  This discussion prompted many questions to be raised like, What does it mean to be a world class city? Can Philadelphia achieve it while staying true to its roots and values?

A major part of obtaining that status is enhancing the overall quality of life, from education to infrastructure, lowering poverty and ensuring equal access to quality health services and fresh food, and embracing the creative revolution and serving as an incubator of creative thought as well as serving as a  platform to express those talents and ideas.  Philadelphia has a wealth of potential, it's finally time that those in power embrace the ideas and passion of the millennial generation.

Read more at Flying Kite


Bartram's Mile Trail

The Bartram's Mile project continues to push forward with beautiful new renderings released earlier this week by Parks and Recreation , Andropogon, John Bartram Association, Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, and Penn Praxis.  The plans feature lush fields and trails suitable for various outdoor leisure and athletic activities, from biking, nature watching, fishing, running, and entertainment spaces.  The plans also show new connections to Grays Ferry Crescent and its continuation of the Schuylkill River Banks Trail project.  Best of all there are plenty of natural banks along the stretch, something quite rare along Philadelphia's rivers.

New 24 Story Drexel Student Housing; Lancaster Square

Drexel University continues to expand developing the northern fringes of University City into a world class "live- work- lean" community.  The university plans to enroll 9000 new students, some of which will be online and through satellite campuses in the suburbs, but many of those students will be in need of housing on Drexel's main campus.  Drexel is planning a 24-story residential mixed use tower at 34th and Lancaster in Powelton Village.  The project would offer roughly 1,300 beds in about 350 suites for students.  It would include modern amenities such as private bathrooms, and have first-floor retail space catering to community residents.

The project, known all Lancaster Square, designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz Architects out of Chicago, will be developed by American Campus Communities, which also built Chestnut Square.  It is part of the University's plan to bring students out of residential neighborhoods in Powelton Village and Mantua.  The Powelton Village Civic Association is concerned that the $165 million project still won't be enough to meet the demands as Drexel's enrollment climbs.

Images Courtesy of SBC

The project still needs approval from the city's Zoning Board of Adjustment because it exceeds the maximum density permitted at the site and contains less open space than is required.  This opposition may be in the end good for the university and the community, encouraging the University to develop the acres of parking lots along JFK and the current site of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.  There is plenty of land there to house thousands of student, create open space, and house additional educational and hospitality facilities.

Goldtex Residential Conversion Project

The residential conversion of the Goldtex building in Chinatown North/Callowhill by post Brothers will soon be complete and ready to welcome its first residents.    The project stands tall at 12th and Wood Streets and could prove to be the catalyst to encouraging a development revolution in the neighborhood surrounding the Future Reading Viaduct Park.  On May 1 tenants will be able to move into their new digs in the 163-unit apartment building.  A restaurant is also planned to open on the ground floor, the tenant not yet known.


Phila2035 Central District Comprehensive Plan Draft

Philadelphia 2035 released today a draft of their plan for the Central District.  The Comprehensive plan calls for revitalizing civic spaces in Center City, encouraging more development along Ridge Avenue and North Broad Street in West Callowhill, and making more of a neighborhood around Franklin Square.

Many recommendations range from zoning changes to allow for higher density in several neighborhoods, bringing more life to public spaces including Reyburn Plaza across from City Hall and adding a TKTS kiosk in the City Hall courtyard.  Although the Penn Center court Yard is not city owned recommendations were made suggesting to make the space more lively with farmers markets, food trucks or even adding a restaurant or two on the ground level of the buildings.

Read more by downloading the plan Here.


Wistar Institute Research Building Update

The Wistar Institute at 36th and Spruce Streets is well underway with construction crews at work daily.  The new seven story glass and steel research tower is slated to open in 2014, providing a new home for the Institute's cancer center and will sit adjacent to the Institute's 117-year-old brick building.

The new building will help advance research at the Institute by providing more laboratory space for scientists to work together.  It will have an open space layout, completely conceived to foster collaboration.

USciences' Science & Technology Center II

The new 57,000-square-foot, three-story building currently under construction will showcase the latest facilities necessary for growth and expansion of collaborative clinical and professional education.  Home to USciences' Department of Physician Assistant Studies, the STC II will permit students from several disciplines, including pharmacy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy, to study, train, and interact together in a teaching and clinical environment.

In addition to simulation and clinical practice labs, patient exam rooms, lecture and classroom space, and a student lounge, the sleek, modern building will incorporate a green-roof system for sustainability. The 20,000 square-foot green roof will absorb nearly 15,000 gallons of water when fully saturated.  It is anticipated the green roof, along with the triple glazed windows and natural lighting, will earn the STC II three Green Globes from the green Building Initiative.


LeBow College of Business

The LeBow College of business designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, is too moving along at a steady pace, like many projects today in University City.  Scheduled to be completed by the 2013-14 school year, the 12-story, 177,500-square-foot home for LeBow College of Business is located at the heart of Drexel University's campus, at the intersection of Woodland Walk and Market Street.  The diagonal massing of the lower floors follows Woodland Walk and combines with the completed Papadakis Integrated Science Building to energize the University's central quadrangle.

the building's organization unites the school's various constituencies around a five-story-high atrium, ringed by classrooms, student lounges, event spaces, and offices.  The third floor houses the Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship.  The atrium is immediately accessible from main entrances at the three corners of the building.  An open stair within the atrium leads to a 300-seat auditorium and 100-seat lecture hall below and to a divisible multipurpose room and additional classrooms.  The buildings upper floors contain faculty offices interspersed with seminar rooms and group study rooms.  The top floor houses the Dean's suite and a boardroom and conference suite.

Chestnut Square Development

The Chestnut Square Development project at Drexel University by Robert A.M. Stern Architects is moving along according to schedule.  The new 865-bed cmomplex will provide Drexel University students with two-bedroom and four-bedroom suites organized as duplexes, with a living room and kitchen at the entry level and bedrooms alternately above and below.

Six-story residential blocks sheathed in metallic panels and glass will sit above transparent ground-level retail and cantilever toward each other to frame a view toward Mandell Theater.  A cast stone 18-story residential tower on 32nd and Chestnut Streets will form a visual counterpoint to the neighboring Left Bank apartment building and Drexel's Main Building.  The tower's entrance will open into a suite of student amenity spaces including a lounge, game room, fitness center, and laundry.  A nine-story cast stone facade on 33rd and Chestnut Streets will anchor views from Woodland Walk and, together with Papadakis Integrated Science Building, will compose a western gateway to the core of campus.