Friday, September 22, 2017

Amtrak's $6.5 Billion 30th Street Station Redevelopment

University City is in for some major changes thanks to a new redevelopment plan from Amtrak and partners SEPTA, Brandywine Realty Trust, and Drexel University. The plan will be the single largest development project in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and turn West Philadelphia into a regional economic hub. 

The development is expected to cost $6.5 billion, with $2 billion going to infrastructure investments and the other $4.5 billion coming from developers.

The project is expected to create 22,000 construction jobs and another 10,000 permanent jobs, and add 8,000 to 10,000 residents to the city’s population.

The massive venture will focus on the area around 30th Street Station, the second-busiest station in the Amtrak system, ultimately turning the area into a second downtown for Philadelphia.

Plans for the station and surrounding neighborhood will start with the capping of the existing Amtrak and SEPTA-owned rail yards to accommodate 10 million square feet of development along the Schuylkill River.

Click to enlarge
New office, retail and residential buildings containing 18 million square feet of total space and 40 acres of open space would be created, with most of the development privately financed.

The project will include housing for 10,000 residents and create 1.2 million square feet of commercial space.

Three pedestrian bridges across the Schuylkill River, linking University City with Logan Square and Center City, are also planned.

The redevelopment site consists of a total of 175 acres in the University City neighborhood, 88 of which is occupied by the Amtrak rail yard.

This project is the culmination of a two-year study of the site, which extends east of Drexel’s campus between Walnut and Spring Garden Streets and northeast from 30th Street Station.

Among the infrastructure improvements are plans to relocate a ramp for the Schuylkill Expressway in favor of a new bus terminal.

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In addition to the bus facility, Amtrak also plans to expand The Porch at 30th Street Station.

A new gateway park will surround the facility with a tree-lined promenade along the river, a west-side plaza that could be used for large-scale events and a north plaza along Arch Street.

The 30th Street Station itself will also receive a major renovation that will add retail space and a new pedestrian plaza around the train station.

A new underground concourse that will connect the SEPTA subway station at 30th Street to the Amtrak station, is also planned.


   

Friday, September 15, 2017

Drexel University Plans $3.5 Billion “Innovation Neighborhood”

Fourteen acres next to Philadelphia’s 30th Street train station will be transformed into a $3.5 billion “innovation neighborhood” designed to mix education, housing and entrepreneurship, under plans unveiled by Drexel University. 

Schuylkill Yards is the name of the mixed-use project, which will add up to eight million square feet of offices, labs, and housing in new and recycled buildings next to the third busiest passenger rail station in the country.

Drexel University, which assembled the land and envisioned the project, announced that it has selected Brandywine Realty Trust of Philadelphia to be the master developer and its joint venture partner in the project.

SHoP Architects and the Dutch firm West8 are working on the master plan. SHoP will handle the district planning and development of the architectural standards, and West 8 will be responsible for creating the public realm and development of the landscape standards.

Project renderings show a combination of high-rise and low-rise buildings on a 10-acre site next to Drexel’s main campus, Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, and Brandywine’s Cira Centre development.

“Schuylkill Yards will undeniably transform Philadelphia’s skyline as new towers rise on the west side of the Schuylkill River,” said Gerard H. Sweeney, president and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust.

Proposed uses in this “collaborative neighborhood” include entrepreneurial spaces, educational facilities and research laboratories, corporate offices, residential and retail spaces, hospitality and cultural venues, and public open spaces.

While the community is being designed for a wide range of users, from educational and medical institutions to residents and businesses, developers say the common theme will be the pursuit of innovation.
 
“Drexel has always believed there’s a superior use for this unique location — essentially the 50 yard line of the Eastern Seaboard — as a neighborhood built around collaboration and innovation. That’s why the University assembled these parcels, and the time is right to put this vision into action,” said Drexel President John A. Fry.

“Schuylkill Yards is more than a large-scale development; it will be the heart of America’s next great urban innovation district.”

The developers say this is a long-term investment in Philadelphia and its University City neighborhood, and it’s aimed at people who want to live or work in the area and have easy access to the train station.

Besides its proximity to 30th Street Station, Schuylkill Yards will have connections to Philadelphia’s international airport. The master plan calls for a new gateway to Drexel and University City, a real estate submarket with a high concentration of education and medical institutions.

Construction of Schuylkill Yards will take place in multiple phases. As master developer, Brandywine, will oversee a team that includes Gotham Organization leading the residential development, and Longfellow Real Estate Partners leading the life sciences component.

When completed, developers say, the site will contain a mix of repurposed existing buildings and new towers connected by a “diverse network of public spaces.”

Before
After
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The development will begin with the creation of Drexel Square, a 1.3 acre park at 30th and Market streets, directly across from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station. In addition, they say, the historic former Bulletin Building will be re-imagined by transforming its east facade with “inside/out viewports and a dynamic front screen.”

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the project represents “one of the most valuable assemblages of real estate” in the nation.

“Schuylkill Yards is a big step forward in University City’s transition to a next-generation business district,” he said. “It will provide our region’s current and future innovators with a central hub for collaboration and signal to the world that Philadelphia is ready for business in the 21st century’s new economy.”

Schuylkill Yards “will bring new, innovative businesses and residents to Pennsylvania, and the potential economic impact is tremendous,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, “Those who choose to make Schuylkill Yards their home will have access to many of the most innovative companies, organizations and educational institutions in our state.”

Friday, September 8, 2017

New 29-Story Condo Tower to be Built on Jewelers Row

A new condominium tower is planned for Philadelphia’s historic Jewelers Row, just off of Seventh and Sansom Streets. The new tower at 702 Sansom Street will be 29 stories and 354 feet tall and will have 115 condominium units. The project is being developed by luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers, and is being designed by SLCE Architects. 

The controversial part is that Toll Brothers is planning to demolish five 18-foot wide, midrise buildings that housed jewelry stores and gem cutting and polishing rooms on upper floors, arguing that the buildings’ different heights and floor alignments wouldn’t be compatible with a modern, ADA-accessible building. 

Jewelers Row is a storied Center City shopping street characterized by midrise buildings devoted entirely to jewelry sales and manufacturing by small local retailers, which makes a high rise building additionally controversial. 

Efforts to stop the demolition of the existing buildings, in court and by the Zoning Board, have failed and now the developers and architects presented their plans to the Planning Commission’s Civic Design Review Board.

The new tower will be 29 stories and 354 feet tall and will have 115 condominium units.  The units will be one, two, and three bedroom units, with the main entrance and lobby on Sansom Street. 

The developers are planning 2,600 square feet of retail space in hopes of returning the retail space that will be lost when the previous buildings are demolished. The new retail likely will be jewelry stores. 

The new building will have no on-site parking, but Toll Brothers is contracting with nearby garages to provide at least 40 parking spaces and will offer a valet service out front.

There will, also, be 37 bicycle parking spaces. 

The new tower will be set back from the four-story podium, with private terraces for the fifth floor residences.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Grand Plans for Revamped Philadelphia Museum of Art

Construction on the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s $196 million core project, designed by world renowned architect Frank Gehry, is set to begin this month.

Some big changes coming to the museum include a 640-foot vaulted walkway that will run from Kelly Drive to the Schuylkill River, which hasn’t been opened since the 1960s. More gallery space will be built and multiple spaces, including Lenfest Hall, will be renovated.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has pulled back the curtain on its grand plans for the future of one of Philadelphia’s cultural treasures.

Like Philadelphia’s own Parthenon, the Philadelphia Museum of Art sits majestically on a rise at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The vast collections of this temple of art make it the third-largest art museum in the country, and an absolute must-see on the city’s museum circuit.

Since opening to the public in 1928, the art museum has welcomed countless visitors, artists and exhibitions, evolving its collections and programming to accommodate 21st-century needs. However, few significant updates have been made to the structure itself.

Now, after nearly 90 years of use, the museum has revealed a comprehensive plan for the renovation, revitalization and expansion of the Parthenon on the Parkway, tapping celebrated architect Frank Gehry to design and now implement this ambitious multi-phase project.

The Master Plan

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A great bastion of fine art, the historic Philadelphia Museum of Art is more than mere museum — it’s a civic landmark and a true architectural treasure.

Plans to renovate the venerated building have been under consideration for more than a decade, with an initial integrated Facilities Master Plan completed by architectural engineering firm Vitetta in 2004 and design development by Frank Gehry and his group dating back to 2006

Gehry, renowned around the world for such expressive buildings as the Guggenheim Bilboa and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, has taken a very different approach with the Philadelphia Museum of Art project. The architect has said he is embracing the DNA of the building, and not making many obvious exterior changes.

Rather, his design aims to open the interior space and make the museum far more navigable to visitors and desirable for displays of fine art.

All phases of the Master Plan have been approved, and the coming years will see both major and minor enhancements to the interior and exterior of the museum as funding is secured, touching every portion of the grand building.

There are no fewer than 10 principal components of the Master Plan, from key updates of infrastructure to the addition of 124,000 square feet of public space.

For the exterior, few changes have been proposed to preserve the integrity of the building, keeping alternations to the facade and the iconic “Rocky steps” to a minimum.

The interior, however, will see such major improvements as the renovation and expansion of Lenfest Hall and the Great Stair Hall, the reopening of a public entrance on the north side of the museum leading through a gorgeous vaulted corridor, as well as the creation of a brand-new central space beneath the Great Stair Hall leading to 55,000 square feet of new gallery space to be carved out beneath the east terrace.

The comprehensive and ambitious Master Plan will, of course, be implemented in phases. A handful of key improvements — dubbed the Core Project — will be the next portion of the Master Plan to roll out.

And that’s only the start.

No undertaking this significant could be accomplished in one fell swoop, and timeline estimations for the execution of the Master Plan in its entirety range from 10 to 15 years.


Once complete, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be prepared for the next 90 years…and beyond.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Massive $6.5B Redevelopment Planned for University City

University City is in for some major changes thanks to a new redevelopment plan from Amtrak and partners SEPTA, Brandywine Realty Trust, and Drexel University. The plan will be the single largest development project in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and turn West Philadelphia into a regional economic hub. 

The development is expected to cost $6.5 billion, with $2 billion going to infrastructure investments and the other $4.5 billion coming from developers.

The project is expected to create 22,000 construction jobs and another 10,000 permanent jobs, and add 8,000 to 10,000 residents to the city’s population.

The massive venture will focus on the area around 30th Street Station, the second-busiest station in the Amtrak system, ultimately turning the area into a second downtown for Philadelphia.

Plans for the station and surrounding neighborhood will start with the capping of the existing Amtrak and SEPTA-owned rail yards to accommodate 10 million square feet of development along the Schuylkill River.

Click to enlarge
New office, retail and residential buildings containing 18 million square feet of total space and 40 acres of open space would be created, with most of the development privately financed.

The project will include housing for 10,000 residents and create 1.2 million square feet of commercial space.

Three pedestrian bridges across the Schuylkill River, linking University City with Logan Square and Center City, are also planned.

The redevelopment site consists of a total of 175 acres in the University City neighborhood, 88 of which is occupied by the Amtrak rail yard.

This project is the culmination of a two-year study of the site, which extends east of Drexel’s campus between Walnut and Spring Garden Streets and northeast from 30th Street Station.

Among the infrastructure improvements are plans to relocate a ramp for the Schuylkill Expressway in favor of a new bus terminal.

Click to enlarge
In addition to the bus facility, Amtrak also plans to expand The Porch at 30th Street Station.

A new gateway park will surround the facility with a tree-lined promenade along the river, a west-side plaza that could be used for large-scale events and a north plaza along Arch Street.

The 30th Street Station itself will also receive a major renovation that will add retail space and a new pedestrian plaza around the train station.

A new underground concourse that will connect the SEPTA subway station at 30th Street to the Amtrak station, is also planned.


   

Friday, August 18, 2017

Three Construction Projects Will Transform Temple University

Temple University is investing $300 million in new and upgraded facilities as part of a campus renaissance. Temple’s residential campus continues to evolve, with major construction projects bringing a new state-of-the-art library, a 35,000-seat football stadium, a health and wellness center and on-campus retail space. 

A new state-of-the art library 

The former site of Barton Hall will soon be home to Temple University’s new library, designed by Snøhetta, an architectural firm known for its innovative library designs, in partnership with Philadelphia-based design firm Stantec.

Demolition of the old Barton Hall was completed in March.

Plans include a library with more than 225,000-square-foot occupying a space approximately the size of a city block.

It will be bounded by Polett Walk to the south, Liacouras Walk to the west, Norris Street to the north and the Quad to the east.

A state-of-the art automated storage and retrieval system will allow the library to devote more square footage to learning spaces and less space to book stacks.
The new building will have dramatic arched entrances and a green roof, as well as a large, upper-level outdoor balcony space that will offer views of campus.

New Football Stadium

Temple University plans to construct a new 35,000-seat football stadium, with an estimated cost of $126 million, on the northwest corner of its main campus.

The multi-purpose stadium and retail complex will be bounded by Broad Street, Norris Street, 16th Street and Montgomery Avenue.

Temple has hired AECOM and architects Moody Nolan to design the project.

AECOM designed Florida Atlantic University's football stadium in 2012. At 29,419 seats, it's slightly smaller than Temple's stadium.

There are many reasons why the university is considering an on-campus stadium, including the long-term benefit of owning a stadium instead of renting one.

Owning a stadium is anticipated to result in net savings of approximately $3 million annually. That’s money that can be used for other priorities. The Philadelphia Eagles have been criticized for charging Temple $1 million a year to lease their stadium.

“Having our own stadium will help showcase our vibrant campus as we celebrate Temple’s accomplishments on and off the field," says Temple President Neil D. Theobald.

Temple Stadium will have a capacity of about 35,000—about half the size of Lincoln Financial Field, where the university now plays its home games.

The project promises to help revitalize North Broad Street and contribute to the North Philadelphia economy.

Construction will also include an adjacent practice facility and a student recreation building. Temple plans to begin construction of the facility later this year.


Student Health and Wellness Center

Temple University will break ground this month on a new Student Health and Wellness Center—an academic, athletics and recreation facility that will provide space for students in the College of Public Health to hone their clinical skills along with space for recreational sports and weight training.

The centerpiece of the 95,000 square foot facility is the main entrance, angled toward the intersection of 15th Street and Montgomery Avenue.

A two-and-a-half-story glass atrium will greet pedestrians, who will enter the facility beneath a portion of an outdoor track that serves as a balcony above the main doors before returning to ground level around the perimeter of the building.

The multipurpose facility's academic area will have smart classrooms, laboratory spaces with the latest technology and lecture halls, as well as a unique apartment space where demonstrations can take place.

The new center will also have an indoor recreation area that includes a 70-yard synthetic turf field, a climbing wall and a juice bar.

The field is for use by the school's athletic teams, as well as participants in Temple's 36 club sports and 10 intramural sports. The recreation area will also offer twice the amount of free-weight space currently available to students. Outside, a track will be available to the public.

The targeted completion date is early in 2018. The architecture firm Moody Nolan designed the facility.
 

Friday, August 11, 2017

University Plans Massive $1.5 Billion Hospital Tower

The University of Pennsylvania is planning to knock down its Penn Tower to make way for a new $1.5 billion hospital building that will house 700 patient beds, 50 operating rooms and other health-care services.

The city planning commission has already approved plans for the 343-foot-tall structure that will take the place of the university's Penn Tower once its demolition is complete.

The 1.1 million-square-foot New Patient Pavilion will include 500 inpatient rooms, 50 operating rooms, and an emergency section, as well as a 650-space underground parking garage.

The commission voted to permit changes to the University of Pennsylvania master plan needed for construction of the building at 300 S. 33rd Street, which will serve as a patient-intake hub for surrounding medical facilities.

Plans include linking the new tower with Penn's existing hospital building complex and with the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

Construction will be done in multiple phases. It’s expected that the University of Pennsylvania Health System will begin razing Penn Tower this year to make way for construction of the new hospital.

The existing Penn Tower was originally built in 1975 as the Hilton Hotel of Philadelphia. The structure was later acquired by Penn and has housed a variety of offices and clinics for the Penn Health System.

Those operations and employees have or will be relocated to other sites in University City and in Center City in preparation of its eventual demolition.

L.F. Driscoll and Balfour Beatty Construction have been retained to oversee the building of the new Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania facility. Driscoll is a Philadelphia construction management firm owned by Structure Tone.

Balfour Beatty Construction is a national construction management firm based in Dallas. Driscoll has been a go-to firm for the health system in the past and has completed a deep list of projects for it.

The architectural firm Foster + Partners will design the estimated $1.5 billion project. Foster + Partners, based in London, is a world-renowned firm that also designed the Comcast Center for Innovation and Technology. L.F. Driscoll is also the general contractor on that $1.2 billion project.

HDR Inc., one of the leading health care architects, is also on the team. The innovative firm has designed medical and health related facilities across the United States and around the world.

The health system is one of Philadelphia’s largest employers and is a huge economic engine for the region. The health system and medical school together form a $4.3 billion enterprise and the area’s most profitable medical center.