West Philly

Combines an old home with a contemporary structure

At 3803 Locust Walk, Penn is perhaps halfway through the process of constructing the new Perry World House.

Current view

This building will open in the spring of 2016, and will be "an interdisciplinary research center designed to translate academic work into innovative approaches to global challenges." Platitudes aside, it will host events to increase international engagement, encourage research regarding international issues, and help to transmit that research to the rest of the world. There will be office space too. For students whose studies have an international focus, this place will basically be a paradise. And if any of those same students have some architectural interest, the building will be doubly awesome.

Project rendering

Here's a look at this site in 1970, since we weren't smart enough to snag a picture of it before the construction started.

So long, awesome Pep Boys sign

We were in West Philly yesterday and noticed demolition notices at 4101 Market St., a shuttered Pep Boys with some spectacular signage.

Looking east on Market Street
Amazing sign on 42nd Street

So what's happening here? The property is really large, covering almost an acre, so the opportunity is there to build something pretty significant. And something significant is exactly what developers University Place Associates have in mind. If the name of this developer sounds familiar, it's because they're the guys who built 2.0 University Place, a LEED certified office building at 41st & Powelton. You can actually see the back of the building in the photo above. In an effort that would make Microsoft proud, they've named their plan for the 4100 block of Market Street 3.0 University Place. Check out these sweet renderings:

As opposed to their building at 39th & Walnut

A little while back, we heaped some scorn on the University of Pennsylvania for their unexciting new building on the northwest corner of 39th & Walnut. We lamented that this structure, which replaced an old diner, brought little to the table from an architectural standpoint, especially when considered alongside the contemporary Radian in one direction and gorgeous old West Philly homes in the other. At least we eventually learned that the building does, contrary to our initial understanding, come with some retail space.

This building doesn't do it for us

To be clear, we're not negative nancies over here- we just call 'em like we see 'em. And with that in mind, today we'd like to throw some praise at Penn for their ongoing project at 38th & Baltimore. At the beginning of this year, when we first checked in on the expansion of the Lynch Laboratories, the building had just been framed out in steel. When we passed by recently, the building had come a very long way. And it looked awesome. Hooray for interesting architecture!

The end of a long battle with the community

Another historic building in West Philadelphia has met its ruin. Demolition wrapped up recently the Levy-Leas House, an 1850s Italianate mansion at 40th & Pine, marking the end of a long fight between neighbors and Penn officials who over the years have proposed various projects there, at times prompting neighbors to call on the school to be more responsible. We first covered this property over four years ago.

Taller than you'd expect given the surroundings

Earlier this summer, news of development on a vacant property at 17 S 44th St. made a small commotion in West Philly when it was learned that the new building would cover over a neighborhood-driven mural which paid tribute to the local Ethiopian community. However, the fact that this building would hide a much-beloved piece of art wasn't the only noteworthy aspect of this project.

In the past

According to zoning documents online and the wall that is being built on the 4th floor of the new structure, the building will eventually have a whopping 5 floors! That may not seem like a lot but the building certainly dwarfs its current rowhouse neighbors. You may be wondering how this got through the ZBA. Well, it didn't have to. The parcels in this section of town are zoned CMX-4 which allows for quite a bit of height and density, by right.