'Model Block' Renovations on East Girard Avenue

Client: New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC)

NKCDC engaged our studio to realize the ambitions of the Commercial Corridor Improvement Project shown above on a 'Model Block' of East Girard Avenue.  Five properties have received funding to improve their facades and  reorganize their interiors in ways that contribute to a more vital and engaging street presence.    Construction is scheduled for the summer of 2013, and an unveiling is planned for early October.

The project, which is funded by a grant from PNC Bank and LISC Philadelphia, builds on a national trend called "tactical urbanism," characterized by community-focused, short-term, small-scale interventions with realistic goals.



Commercial Corridor Improvements for East Girard Avenue

Client: New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC)

East Girard Avenue is an exciting commercial corridor that has been dormant for many years. In the past several years it has seen a resurgence as a viable corridor to open new businesses and relocate  existing ones.  Currently there are no standards or tools available to facilitate changes in a way that ensures development that benefits current tenants and entices new ones to open their doors along the Avenue. Similarly, there are no standards to attract residents or visitors to shop along the Avenue. The long term health and sustainability of East Girard as a business corridor is directly linked to the ability to attract new patrons and businesses, as well maintain existing ones.  

Our studio was engaged to develop a document that offers a variety of high-impact and relatively low-cost improvements that can be achieved with minimal effort.  Along with our client, we developed guidelines that empower both business owners and building owners to maximize the potential of their storefronts in a way that is flexible and conducive to the current and future businesses in the district.  This document, or Menu, is designed so anyone can pick and choose a combination of components that are relevant to their location or add components to improve as their business grows. 

The project, which is funded by a grant from PNC Bank and LISC Philadelphia, and builds on a national trend called "tactical urbanism," characterized by community-focused, short-term, small-scale interventions with realistic goals. 



The Mount Hope Mission Center

Client: The Mount Hope Baptist Church of Faith

Mount Hope Baptist Church of Faith is undertaking an ambitious expansion project in the Mill Creek neighborhood of Philadelphia. In addition to expanding its operational abilities, this new Mission Center seeks to engage the community and serve them in a meaningful way. Specifically, the Church seeks to develop a facility that serves both congregation members and community residents through family and individual counseling, emergency social services referrals, youth development, literacy and self-sufficiency programs, and instruction in the creative arts. The addition of a new multipurpose building in this project will serve both existing and future church members by allowing Mount Hope Baptist Church of Faith to expand its congregation. The rest of the project will serve the greater community surrounding the Church through the addition of a variety of support spaces.


The Pop Up Chapel

Clients: Competition Organized by The Pop Up Chapel, The Knot, and Architizer...

The Pop Up Chapel Competition was conceived by a group of friends, tipsily celebrating the fantastic news that all New Yorkers are able to enjoy marriage equality. In their excitement and mild delirium, they decided to provide a beautiful wedding for anyone who wants to get married, totally free of charge. They figured: people might want to get married at City Hall. But wouldn’t they prefer to get married in a park? Especially if they could bring all their friends and family and eat free cupcakes? Who doesn’t love cupcakes?

The brief for the competition required a temporary structure be installed in the span of two hours at Merchant's Gate in Central Park. The chapel could be no larger than 8' x 8' x 10', non-denominational, able to fit five people comfortably, and was intended to celebrate both the city of New York as well as the historic passage of the Marriage Equality Act. 

A Warming Hut

Client: Competition Organized by The Manitoba Association of Architects, The Inn at the Forks, and the University of Manitoba.

Born of fire, in preparation for a winter nestled on the icy banks of the Assiniboine River, this project is an elemental act of architecture. Harnessing earth, wind, fire, and water, this warming hut engenders a moment of pause in the journey of its visitors. Conceived as a response to the quiet stillness of a new fallen snow, the Warming Hut offers an environment that is activated by the swirling winds around it. Bales of tall grasses, reeds, and bamboo are embedded in a structural frame that allows each blade to rustle against its neighbors resulting in a constant “whoosh” and “crackle” that serves as both an audible measure of the weather conditions outside and as protection from them.  In counterpoint, the remainder of the Hut is constructed of white pine lumber set afire during fabrication. The flame-kissed edges of each board provide natural resistance to the elements and a softening of exterior noise by this elemental act of burning.

Commercial Corridor Improvements for East Passyunk Avenue

Clients: Passyunk Avenue Revitalization, Inc. and Capital Access, Inc.

 By BWA Architecture + Planning with support by Brian Szymanik. 

This project sought to initiate the revitalization of the East Passyunk Avenue commercial corridor in South Philadelphia. This initiative involved the renovation, restoration, and reuse of twelve scattered-site mixed-use properties peppered between McKean and Dickinson Streets along East Passyunk Avenue.

A concentration of renovations was developed surrounding a small square formed from the intersections of East Passyunk Avenue, Tasker Street, and 11th Street. The precinct is anchored by an existing fountain previously installed by the project’s client, East Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Inc. [PARI]. This fountain, and the plaza it inhabits, is celebrated through the project’s concentration on its perimeter. Five properties were renovated in this zone to intensify both commercial and residential occupancies in an attempt to bring life and activity to this public space. Programmatically, this precinct witnessed a conglomeration of restaurant uses that celebrate the vitality of this neighborhood while attracting a diverse clientele to rediscover all that the Avenue has to offer.


23rd Street Redevelopment Plan, Block Reconfiguration and Infill Housing Study

Client:  Project H.O.M.E.

 In collaboration with BWA Architecture + Planning and The Community Design Collaborative with support by Brian Szymanik. 

Over the past 50 years, the neighborhood of Lower North Philadelphia has undergone dramatic changes. When originally built, the community adjacent to the project site housed close to 250 families. Typical of many neighborhoods in the city, the area of this study has experienced the flight of approximately one-half of its residents. When residents flee the neighborhood, they leave an aura of abandonment in their wake. The project presented here seeks to counter the effects of this atmosphere by maintaining the current density the neighborhood has shown it is able to support, by changing the patterns of usage while acknowledging the primacy of the street and importance of the urban context, and by providing larger houses and private open space for residents.

© 2016