Sunday, December 21, 2014

POSTED: Thursday, August 8, 2013, 6:12 PM

Which architect is responsible for the design of Home2Suites, reviewed in Friday's Inquirer? Today's print version attributes the project to KlingStubbins, the Philadelphia-based firm that designed the Goldtex renovation for the Pestronk brothers. In fact, as the online version states, the real designer is Cope Linder Architects, who are responsible for SugarHouse.

The reason for the mix-up? When I asked developers Robert Zuritsky and Jake Wurzak during a telephone interview for the name of their architecture firm, they replied, "KlingStubbins." Unfortunately, by the time I learned they had misidentified their architect, the printed version had already gone to press. I regret that KlingStubbins is mistakenly named as the architect of Home2Suites. And I'm sure they do too.

POSTED: Friday, May 17, 2013, 3:26 PM

The Pestronk brothers, who are slowly completing the conversion of the Goldtex building in the Loft District after an eight-month-long union stand-off, wanted to get noticed when they sent out “VIP” invitations Thursday to a rooftop preview party for their new apartments. And they certainly did. Just not in the way they intended.

POSTED: Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 5:02 PM

Philadelphia is living through a golden age of park-building and landscape improvements. Consider that in the last five years, the city has completed the Race Street Pier, Sister Cities Park, Hawthorne Park, an uber-deluxe dog park on the Schuylkill River trail, and - opening next week - a lavish new skate park (Look for my review on Friday). The gardens around the Waterworks have been lovingly restored to their original beauty. Urban farms are sprouting in West Philadelphia. All around the city, parklets and pop-up parks like The Porch are taking over forgotten spaces.

There's a reason the city is so focused on outdoor public space. The generation of millennials that is helping to repopulate the city are a particularly social bunch who place a high priority on good quality outdoor spaces. It's not just Philadelphia that is on park-building spree. Other cities are working as fast as they can to restore their parks and green landscapes, in an effort to attract new residents and businesses.

POSTED: Friday, April 26, 2013, 1:39 PM

The James Corner-designed Race Street Pier has hogged the most attention of any Delaware Waterfront improvement, but it is not the only pier on the river that has been turned into a public park.

Two years ago, the rotting timbers of Pier 53 were converted into a beta version of a park, one that would that become more lush and interesting as it naturalized. Located at the foot of Washington Avenue, it was rechristianed Washington Avenue Green. The idea was to make it a destination for migrating birds as well as neighborhood residents.

With the help of Conshocken's Applied Ecological Services, which received a $1.5 million contract from the Delaware River Waterfront Commission, the city has been steadily making improvements. On Saturday, you can see what they've accomplished so far and enjoy a day on the river. The waterfront agency is sponsoring "Eco-Fest" a morning-long series of events that includes a guided bird-watch and craft-making.

POSTED: Thursday, April 25, 2013, 2:13 PM

Barely a month after two Harvard architecture students started an online petition to force the vaunted Pritzker Prize to recognize one of America's most famous female architects, Denise Scott Brown, their campaign has become an international steamroller. Scott Brown, you may recall, spent decades working alongside her celebrated husband, Philadelphia's Robert Venturi, but was not honored when he was awarded architecture's top prize in 1991. Since the students took up her cause, almost 11,000 people, including starchitects like Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid, have signed the petition on change.org urging Pritzker to give her the award retroactively.

As part of the campaign, the Architects Newspaper's William Menking will conduct a public conversation with Scott Brown this Sunday (April 28) at UPenn's Architectural Archives, in the Furness Library. The conversation will start at 3 p.m., but get there early because seating is limited. After Menking interviews Scott Brown, now 82, she will take questions from the audience. The archive is located in the back of the library and can most easily reached from 34th Street, just south of Walnut Street. Advocates hope the Pritzker will relent and recognize Scott Brown in time for the May 29 ceremony in Boston to award this year's prize to Toyo Ito.

POSTED: Sunday, March 31, 2013, 11:00 AM
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There's something about Paul Manship's Duck Girl sculpture in the fountain at Rittenhouse Square that makes people dress her for the holidays. Here, she's all decked out for the Easter Parade with her own duck - and a visitor.

POSTED: Friday, March 22, 2013, 12:37 PM

I went down to the Philadelphia Navy Yard yesterday to take a look at the architecture of the new GlaxoSmithKline building (by Robert A.M. Stern Architects and Francis Cauffman) but what really caught my eye was the desks, er, workspaces. Glaxo’s new offices are organized around the concept of hoteling, where employees aren’t assigned their own desk or cubicle. Instead, they’re encouraged to float around the building, checking in where they’re most comfortable. This might one of the comfy, colorful chairs in the light-saturated atrium, a big all-purpose table near a corner window overlooking Lincoln Financial Field or at a café table in the coffee lounge. For the more traditional, there are work tables that can be raised and lowered, depending on whether you like to work sitting, standing or perched on a yoga ball. When they need to work collaboratively, people coalesce into teams at one of the many large tables.

The big advantage of this arrangement for Glaxo (Though , maybe not for Philadelphia’s Center City)  is that it has been able to cut its office space needs by 75 percent from its old space 15th and Vine. Even though there are roughly the same number of employees at the Navy Yard, about 1,300, it didn’t seem the least bit crowded. Amazingly, 30 percent of the company’s space is set aside for amenities, like the atrium.

I’m going to be reviewing Glaxo’s new headquarters on April 5, so look then for a fuller treatment of the architecture, interior design and planning implications of its move.

POSTED: Friday, March 22, 2013, 12:36 PM

I went down to the Philadelphia Navy Yard yesterday to take a look at the architecture of the new GlaxoSmithKline building but what really caught my eye was the desks, er, workspaces. Glaxo’s new offices are organized around the concept of hoteling, where employees aren’t assigned their own desk or cubicle. Instead, they’re encouraged to float around the building, checking in where they’re most comfortable. This might one of the comfy, colorful chairs in the light-saturated atrium, a big all-purpose table near a corner window overlooking Lincoln Financial Field or at a café table in the coffee lounge. For the more traditional, there are work tables that can be raised and lowered, depending on whether you like to work sitting, standing or perched on a yoga ball. When they need to work collaboratively, people coalesce into teams at one of the many large tables.

The big advantage of this arrangement for Glaxo (Though , maybe not for Philadelphia’s Center City)  is that it has been able to cut its office space needs by 75 percent from its old space 15th and Vine. Even though there are roughly the same number of employees at the Navy Yard, about 1,300, it didn’t seem the least bit crowded. Amazingly, 30 percent of the company’s space is set aside for amenities, like the atrium.

I’m going to be reviewing Glaxo’s new headquarters on April 5, so look then for a fuller treatment of the architecture, interior design and planning implications of its move.

About this blog

Inga Saffron believes there is architecture and there are places, and you can’t write about one without writing about the other.

Since becoming the Inquirer’s architecture critic in 1999, she has been just as likely to turn her eye toward Philadelphia’s waterfronts and sidewalks as to the latest glittering skyscraper. She is drawn to projects of all sizes and shapes, but especially those that form the backdrop of our daily lives.

Inga Saffron came to architecture criticism after five years as a foreign correspondent in Russia and Yugoslavia, where she covered two wars and was a witness to the destruction of two great cities, Sarajevo and Grozny. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism in 2004, 2008 and 2009.

Reach Inga at isaffron@phillynews.com.

Inga Saffron Inquirer Architecture Critic
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