An underutilized, two-story structure in a vibrant urban strip in Center City Philadelphia presents a challenging adaptive reuse opportunity. This feasibility study commissioned by Goldman Properties (Soho and South Beach fame) examines three possibilities for adding on to the existing building structure, ranging from a one story addition that will utilize existing bearing wall structure, to a multistory overbuild. Proposed uses are to complement the existing retail environment at the lower levels with upper stories intended as flexible office or live/work environments.
This Tower Loft scheme activates the street with a three-story retail component that carves out a well adjacent to the sidewalk in order to incorporate the basement into the retail component. The two stories above the grade combine to offer a dramatic three-story space for a single large retailer or can be divided to create a multi-retail opportunity.
The overbuild, needled through the existing structure, emphasizes the different use in both form and expression. The front wall is louvered to control the southern exposure while the north side opens to accept natural daylight for artist lofts or other live/work scenarios. The side walls separate themselves from the property line, denying the bearing wall model that dominates the urban low-rise context. This separation allows slotted windows to introduce natural light to the center of the loft floors and to frame unique views of the city skyline and the urban squares that surround the site.
The loft spaces offer a twenty-foot ceiling height, which provide the option of large, sun-drenched interior space or the introduction of partial mezzanines as part of the fit-out to allow for efficient deployment of support functions and services.
The tube scheme a was bold approach to the challenge of creating an addition to a building within an urban context. The form and texture of the addition force the building to have an important role within the existing streetscape. This presence among the context allows an opportunity for retail display. This option also affords the tenants an outdoor terrace in the rear of the building, which reinforces the coexistence of public-retail and private-residential relationships.