2225 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130
The 2300 block of Manning is a lovely small scale street with 2 and 3 story row homes, like the ones Philadelphia is most famous for.
Our project replaced an old parking space and unused yard that was a part of 2223 and 2225 Spruce.
Though small, it touches on a lot of issues very important to us in architecture and development. As a firm, we believe that to tackle climate change we must make it easy for people to love living where their carbon footprints are small. We need more housing in our dense city centers. And what we build needs to be humane for both its occupants and the neighbors around it.
So we went into the design looking to complement and amplify that context. We worked on fenestration, material, and massing designs that drew from the mix of housing on the block, as well as the main buildings on our lot.
The ornament is one of the things that delivers on the goal of humaneness of the building for neighbors. It's not something you see when inside. It's a pattern of visual interest for those who walk by the building.
We spent serious effort on the design of the ornamental window surrounds. These patterns draw from the cornice patterns on the main buildings on the lot.
At SPA, contextual design is a core matter of practice, but for this project we also had to convince the historical commission that our project was actually delivering on this goal. In addition to the historical approvals, zoning was also a challenge. A lot of existing buildings in center city on RM-1 lots are non-conforming, either by building size and/or unit count, making them difficult to expand. This property this project sits on was no exception.
click to see the site pre-construction
However, we were able to create the ability to build this project *as-of-right* for our client through a very careful lot subdivision and the utilization of the affordable housing bonus.
Fitting a good program on a tight footprint is always a challenge. On this project, we were really helped by the possibility of windows on 3 sides of the building. There is a lovely amount of light getting into this building's shallow footprint. We used a switchback stair to divide the building into two sensible halves. Good walls and smart separations make urban living possible. The stair provided a perfect focal point to orient our fenestration pattern. The first thing you see opening the main door is a stair window perfectly aligned with a view of the original buildings.
We had a wonderful experience working with an excellent team to bring this to reality. Amy Rivera was our structural engineer. Aaron Jia of Urban Technology was our MEP Engineer. Maser (now Colliers) was our Civil. And Bottos Construction was the builder, including the ornament.