Architectural Walking Tours Kick-Off Saturday, May 4

photo by Flickr user pwbaker

The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia will launches the 2013 season of its award-winning Architectural Walking Tours Saturday, May 4 at 10 a.m. with a tour of Littlest Streets Fitler Square and a special tour for Jane Jacobs Walk, an annual commemoration of the birthday of the great urban thinker Jane Jacobs (1916-2006).

The event will start off with a brief "birthday party," followed by a FREE guided walking tour of Littlest Streets Fitler Square. Meet at the center of Fitler Square, 23rd & Pine Sts. Jane Jacobs Walk is a program of the Center for the Living City, a nonprofit organization created by friends of  urban activist and writer Jane Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities), who championed the interests of local residents and pedestrians over a car-centered approach to planning. www.janejacobswalk.org. The organization celebrates Jacobs' life and legacy by helping people organize walks in their communities around the time of Jane's birthday in early May.

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Making The Grade: Kensington CAPA one of AIA’s Top Ten Green Projects in the U.S.

Image via aia.org | photo credit: Barry Halkin, Halkin PhotographyThe list of prestigious awards Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) has received since construction wrapped up in September 2010 is growing. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently named Kensington CAPA one of its Top Ten Green Projects. The annual award is given to architectural projects that exemplify the integration of environment and community. Kensington CAPA made the list for the positive impact its green features have had on Philadelphia youth.

Built on a brownfield at 1901 North Front Street, the high school’s sleek design (SMP Architects and SRK Architects) is framed by greenery and features large windows that virtually eliminate the need for daytime lighting. Rooftop gardens, a ground level organic vegetable garden and a lush playing field provide stormwater management, giving the nation’s first LEED Platinum-certified public high school a rainwater runoff  rate of zero. Besides providing students with a brand new school—Kensington CAPA was previously located in the old Kensington High School building—the project cut the truancy rate from 35 percent to zero percent and boosted graduation rates from 29 percent to 69 percent. The high school has previously been recognized by the Delaware Valley Green Building Council and in Grid's November 2010 issue.

Intersections: Fair Play

The Philadelphia Center for Architecture and the Ed Bacon Foundation have launched their Fifth Annual Ed Bacon Student Competition. This year’s theme—“Designing for the Fair of the Future”—asks local and international college students to transport themselves to the year 2026, designing a venue for the World’s Fair celebration, held on the occasion of America’s 250th birthday. The student submissions will be judged on creativity, vision and the effectiveness of their solution for utilizing a vacant site in an underused section of South Philadelphia. Those with the winning designs will split $6,000 in prize money and attend an awards ceremony at the Philadelphia Center for Architecture on December 7. The competition reimagines the vision of Edmund Bacon himself, whose dream of a 1976 World’s Fair was never realized.

November 2 is the deadline for receipt of competition submissions; the awards ceremony will be held on December 7, edbacon.org

Cover Story: House Rules

A Philly startup is out to prove that eco-friendly architecture can be affordable
story by Natalie Hope McDonald / photo by Shawn Corrigan

It happened over beers. Childhood friends Chad Ludeman and Nic Darling were in the process of making a huge change—leaving their jobs to launch a development company. Neither one had any work experience in architecture or design, but they could see a shift happening—green, energy-efficient building was the future, and they had a chance to capitalize.

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Face Lift: The Curtis Institute of Music’s expansion project

For the last few months, observant Philadelphians strolling down the 1600 block of Locust Street have no doubt been startled. When you first catch a glimpse of the massive Curtis Institute of Music expansion project, it feels a little bit like you’ve stumbled onto a movie set.

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A Trip Down Girard Avenue

In a city as old and strange as Philly, there’s some history in every 100-plus-year-old brick rowhome and tiny colonial alley. While it’s fun to make up stories about what happened where (I like to think that my block was where Ben Franklin invented freedom soda), it’s also great to know the actual history and future plans of Philly. To that end, I recently took a tour down Girard Avenue with Bob Thomas, an architect, cartographer, tour guide and historian. His firm, Campbell Thomas & Co., has designed environmentally-efficient and socially responsible buildings for over 30 years, so the sites are not only notable for their history, but their sustainable features. You can ride your bike or take the trolley, which is also historic and dates back to the ’50s. 
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Ask Mark

Philadelphia's Director of Sustainability, Mark Alan Hughes, answers our readers

Q: I’ve heard rumors that all new construction in the city will be required to be LEED certified or Energy Star rated. I’m sure these are just rumors, but what measures are being taken towards making new construction, including residential, more sustainable? The sustainable strategies include, but are not limited to: energy efficiency, construction waste management and requiring the use of regional materials. Also, when can we expect a zoning code that DOES NOT encourage the use of cars and parking in the city?
Christine Rossi, LEED AP, architect intern, Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC
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Gimme Shelter

Unlike the rock ‘n’ roll documentary of the same name that marked the end of the innocent ’60s, this Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education (SCEE) design experiment is all about hope for the future. SCEE challenged local artists and designers to come up with innovative and sustainable shelter designs that connect the abstract ideas of living more consciously with the realities of the natural world.
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