Thursday, August 13, 2015

Modular Used for Philly's Newest "Stack" Project

Stacks on stacks on stacks: Lessons for Philly's public housing officials from 

Graduate Hospital's ultra-modern Bloc23 project

When the Bloc23 mixed-use project from developer Stephen Rodriguez was approved by the ZBA back in 2012, Rodriguez explained that he wasn’t just out to build any old building.

“I want to shame the other developers who are ten times more financially successful than I am into doing something better,” he told Hidden City’s Nathaniel Popkin.

Rodriguez specifically criticized the Toll Brothers townhouses across the street at 2400 South, which he said looked like they were “designed by lawyers,” and when I checked in with him this week for an update on the project, undergoing site development for the past month, it was clear those townhouses still haven’t grown on him.

“If you look at 2400 South and a lot of buildings like it that are being built, and the things that are being proposed in historic locations, I mean, they’re garbage,” he said.

“2400 South has double-hung vinyl windows on a huge facade. It’s just a preposterously cheap building that in 5-10 years is going to look absurd. So we tried to do the opposite of that [with Bloc 23.]”

Designed by Campbell Thomas Architects, the Graduate Hospital firm best known for their preservation and trail planning work, and Stephen Nebel of the Berlin firm LABhaus, Bloc23 boasts 22 units with a 10,000 square foot retail space and green design features.

Rodriguez says the team made the retail space the main focus of the building, with the pedestrian experience as the primary design consideration.

Another novelty about this building is that it’s being built in a factory.

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