Monday, January 23, 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 spring.

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

Click to enlarge
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.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

7 Major Projects Planning to Break Ground in Philadelphia

There are no less than seven major projects in various stages of the approval process waiting to get underway in Philadelphia, including the Hyatt Centric Hotel, PHA Headquarters, and the 4th and Callowhill Towers.

Philadelphia Housing Authority New Headquarters

2013 Ridge Avenue


The Philadelphia Housing Authority plans a five-story limestone-and-terra-cotta office building at Ridge Avenue and Jefferson Street in the city's Sharswood neighborhood as its new headquarters.

Plans for the 119,000-square-foot PHA building also call for retail space and a cafe on the structure's ground floor.

The PHA is moving its headquarters from western Center City to Sharswood, a neighborhood just north of Girard College, as part of its $500-million redevelopment plan involving hundreds of new homes for the North Philadelphia neighborhood. An 18,500-square-foot Save-A-Lot grocery store is also planned near the new PHA headquarters building.

Architect: BLT Architects

Aramark’s New Global Headquarters

2400-2414 Market Street


Aramark has big plans for its new global headquarters on Market Street. The $15 billion, Fortune 200 global leader in food, facilities management and uniforms plans to relocate to 2400 Market Street in early 2019.

Situated along the Schuylkill River, the existing structure, originally built as a Hudson Motor Car Company plant in the 1920s, will be transformed into a modern, 600,000 square foot, nine-story building with an emphasis on innovation, sustainability and green space.

Aramark will occupy the top five floors and nearly 300,000 square feet as the building’s anchor tenant. Building plans include featuring the Aramark logo in a similar manner to the company’s iconic sign atop its current 1101 Market Street location.

Architect: Gensler
Developer: PMC Property Group

Hyatt Centric Hotel

1612 Chancellor Street

Big plan are afoot to construct a new 12-story, 300-room Hyatt Centric hotel at 17th and Chancellor Streets. The hotel will be constructed on a site where a four-story parking garage now stands. Little Pete's diner, in the retail portion of the parking structure, will have to search for another location.

The hotel is planned to have a rooftop restaurant, underground parking and retail space.

The Hyatt Centric will be the second Hyatt hotel in Philadelphia's inventory along with Hyatt at the Bellevue on Broad Street. The 348-room Hyatt on Penn's Landing, earlier this year, was rebranded as a full-service Hilton hotel called Hilton Philadelphia at Penn's Landing.

The lifestyle brand Hyatt Centric, by Hyatt Hotels Corp. was introduced early last year, becoming the sixth brand Hyatt has introduced since 2006. The Hyatt Centric name was inspired by the brand’s mission of putting its guest at the center of the action in the best destinations.

Architect: DAS Architects

4th and Callowhill Towers

Tower 1: 309-315 Callowhill Street

Tower 2: 444 N. 3rd Street

This Cecil Baker + Partners-designed project will bring two 23- and 26-story residential towers to a mostly industrial area between Old City and Northern Liberties. The design was driven by the East Callowhill zoning overlay, which was passed to encourage more mixed-use development.

The project is using storm water management, a public space, mixed-income, and retail for added height bonuses that are within the ECO.

2501 Washington Avenue

Plans call for 17 single-family townhomes, two 2-family dwellings, and another 5-story mixed-use development with 64 multi-family dwellings on the fairly drab corner of 25th and Washington in Grays Ferry.

The goal is to enliven the corner with retail on the ground and basement levels of the mixed-use building, and make the area a more popular neighborhood.

Architect: PZS Architects

1845 Hartranft Street

Down in South Philly, this DesignBlendz project calls for 34 residences with 28 garages and 12 parking spaces.

Plans for the interior courtyard include a green wall to bring some life to the development.

Architect: DesignBlendz

4440-42 Ridge Avenue

This Harman Deutsch-designed proposal for a 136-unit mixed-use development would be neighbors to the already under construction Ridge Flats development at 4300 Ridge Avenue and Falls Bridge Lofts next door.

Architects: Harman Deutsch

Monday, January 16, 2017

Copper Prices Jump 28% Since November; Wire Prices to Follow...

Copper prices rose by more than 28% since the end of October, regaining price levels metals investors haven’t seen since July 2015. The red metal had been lagging behind growth in other metals prices through most of this year then jumped by more than it has since 2011

After seeing $2.08 per pound during the last week of October, copper prices began a gradual rise and then really took off Nov. 8, the day of the U.S. general elections, hitting $2.66 per pound this month.

The reasons for the jump appear to go beyond enthusiasm for an expected boost in demand since Donald Trump took office as U.S. President on January 20th.

John Gross, publisher of The Copper Journal, likewise sees the recent move as speculative. "There is no quick—and easy answer to address the near 60-cent move up over the past two months," he said.

“The best we can say is that after copper initially broke through resistance, more buying came in, and the buying accelerated as each previous high point was surpassed. The fundamentals have not changed in any meaningful way, and don’t warrant the move. This level of volatility is no good for anyone, except for speculators who got it right."

What does this all mean for the electrical contractor? 
It means that next purchase of 500MCM is going to cost you a lot more than it did last year... 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Orbit Industries Opens New Distribution Center & Factory on East Coast

Orbit Industries has opened a 450,000-square-foot regional distribution center (RDC) and factory in Morristown, Tennessee, The facility is the first location Orbit has established outside of its main Los Angeles headquarters.

Between Orbit’s Morristown facility and Los Angeles warehouse, Orbit can deliver products anywhere within the continental United States in three days or less.

The Morristown RDC will stock all Orbit products, shipping all 6,000-plus catalog items to the East Coast out of the Tennessee facility.

“We are always looking for ways to better service our customers,” said Marcus Bannerman, Orbit’s national sales manager.

“Delivery time on the East Coast has always been a complication for us. Our new Tennessee facility will help provide a solution to our East Coast customers and get material to them faster than ever before.”

In addition to warehousing, Orbit will soon begin manufacturing at the plant to meet “Made in America” standards. Currently Orbit’s BCHS and RAP Plates are already manufactured in the United States. The introduction of this manufacturing plant will allow other products to soon begin following suit.

The manufacturing plant is expected to be fully operational before the end of 2017. Other future plans include a state-of-the-art training center, which will allow customers, visitors and representatives to test out Orbit’s more innovative prefab products.

Orbit’s product line is UL- or ETL-listed and includes steel junction boxes and accessories; NEMA enclosures; weatherproof products; electrical fittings and elbows; emergency/exit lighting; photoelectric controls; and LED lighting.

Click logo for more Information

Monday, January 2, 2017

Thea & Schoen Acquires William B. Bleiman & Sons

A merger of major electrical manufacturer rep firms is causing a stir in the Mid-Atlantic region. Thea & Schoen, based in Clifton, NJ, announced its acquisition of William B. Bleiman & Sons, Inc., a Philadelphia-based agency serving the Mid-Atlantic and Baltimore/DC territories since 1940.

The merger brings together top names in adjacent territories. Thea & Schoen’s primary concentration has been in the northern New Jersey and New York City metro markets, where the firm represents traditional electrical as well as audio/video manufacturers and recently launched a new division, Empire Lighting, built around its relationship with Philips Lighting to represent its professional products portfolio.

Bleiman & Sons, meanwhile, has its roots deep in the Philadelphia metropolitan area and southern New Jersey as well as Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Both firms are third-generation family-owned agencies with line cards packed with high-profile electrical manufacturers.

Both have existing relationships with General Cable, Bridgeport Fittings, Cantex and Ilsco. Thea & Schoen represents a wide assortment of the Hubbell package of brands plus Klein Tools, Robroy, Lutron and Erico.

In a letter to clients, Thea & Schoen said the integration of the two firms “will only help strengthen those relationships with our enhanced offering of services. We will work together as one unified team to provide our customers with the highest quality products and services in the industry.”

Bleiman & Sons will continue to operate out of its current offices in Conshohocken, Pa., supported by the Thea & Schoen team and facilities including their 250,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Clifton, NJ. T&S said to look for rebranding in the coming months.

Click Here to visit the William B. Bleiman & Sons website

Click Here to visit the Thea & Schoen website