bay windows

Though we think people give it a little too much credit, the classic Philly row home has proven to be a timeless architectural choice in our fair town. Throw up some bricks, some stone lintels, and a cornice, and you probably won't win any design awards but nobody will complain either. It's with bay windows, sometimes innocuous and often beautiful in hundred-year-old homes, that modern architects seem to have a little more trouble. We've studied this phenomenon in both Graduate Hospital and Northern Liberties, heaping praise where it's due and dishing out criticism perhaps a little more frequently.

Just when we thought we'd seen it all, we came upon 2315 Coral St. in East Kensington. What a wonderful feeling to be reminded that there's always something new and different out there!


This property is currently listed on the market for just under $315K. The home has about 1,800 sqft of living space, spread over 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. Hardwood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances etc are also mentioned in the listing for this home, which replaces a long vacant lot.

Every now and then, despite our best efforts, we don't get the facts right. And usually in such cases, we find the need to come clean, eventually. Which is what we're doing right now. Back in March, we told you about three new quadplexes that were about to go up on the 1800 block of N. 17th St., across the street from a series of new student housing units that have been built over the last couple of years.

In the past

Gosh, this is soooo embarrassing. Turns out, it isn't three quadplexes going up here. It's four quadplexes! All are being built by the same developer, ZMA One LLC, and the apartments are now for rent, despite the fact that the buildings are still not finished.

Current view

Our big regret at this time is that we still don't know the finish or the color for the bay windows for these new buildings. As you can see looking at the rest of the block, there's a combination of shiny metallic and a rainbow theme that makes the new construction here look a little different than some other boring new student housing you might find around the neighborhood.

Though there are fewer and fewer spots to be found for new construction in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood, developers are slowly tracking down the remaining lots and building with aplomb. And with a paucity of vacant lots in this neighborhood, we're seeing an uptick of late in rehabs of existing three story buildings. Today, we have updates on two projects we've told you about in the past, and some new info about a project we just noticed nearby.

First, we look at the corner of 19th & Kimball, where two new homes have progressed considerably since foundations were poured back in November. The homes, designed by Harman Deutsch, are a nice departure from the stucco bays next door, and we also appreciate the lack of garages, creating more eyes on the street. The developer here, you may recall, is also working on the former Saint Albans check cashing place just a few blocks away.

About a year ago, we checked in on the 1800 block of N 17th St., noting a series of new duplexes featuring shiny bay windows. A few months later, we checked back in on the same block, and told you about some more new construction on the block, this time with some colorful bays.

Shiny bays
Rainbow bays

Today, we've learned about three new quadplexes coming to this block, but across the street. ZMA One LLC pulled permits for three new buildings at 1816-20 N 17th St. back in January, and it looks like things are getting underway.

A reader checked in the other day, and gave us the heads up that construction activity was stirring at 1014-16 S. 19th St., two long-vacant lots near Washington Avenue. Since no zoning notices had been posted, the reader was assuming that the construction was by right, but was concerned about aesthetics, considering the surroundings.

The lots

Taking a peek at the handy L&I Map, we were able to determine that two new homes are indeed on their way to this address, designed by Harman Deutsch. Fortunately, it seems that these homes will not be garage front homes, ensuring additional eyes on this street.

This project is just one more in a string of completed, ongoing, and upcoming residential developments on the southern end of this neighborhood. Much of the housing stock was seriously deteriorated 'round these parts as recently as a decade ago, and the developers have reinvented blocks at a time, many making  some fairly regrettable architectural decisions in the process.

Last spring, we told you about six new duplexes going up on the 1800 block of N. 17th St., near the Temple campus. The other day, when we happened to be in the neighborhood, we noticed that these buildings have been completed in the intervening months. While they are fairly standard new construction homes, they do stand out when examined as a group:

Back in April
The other day

Red, green, blue, where's indigo?

So here's the lesson, builders: If you're gonna build six identical homes in a row, why not mix up the colors of the bays? At least it makes the homes a little more interesting to look at.

Just a thought...

Rosa Court, a seventeen home development on the 1300 block of Federal St., has always mystified us. Built about five years ago and designed by Landmark Architectural Design, these homes stick out big-time in an area that has relatively little one-off new construction activity, let alone new developments of this magnitude. The insides of the homes are pretty much standard fare for new construction these days, with hardwood floors, granite countertops, 3 beds, 2.5 baths, and about 2,200 sqft. The homes have a parking courtyard, including 1-2 car parking for each unit.

Here's a look at what these homes looked like a couple of years ago.

A reader tipped us off about the addition plopped onto 2017 Carpenter St., located on a mostly two-story block with a handful of three story homes thrown in for good measure in recent years. Only framed out to this point, and featuring an unexpected bay, it kind of sticks out from its surroundings.

Closer look

This home was purchased by developers in February for $155K, a sale that was made possible when the DA's office seized the property a couple of years ago for unknown criminal activities. Anyone have any more info on what kinds of activities led to this?

Hopefully, when finished, the addition will fit in a little better with its surroundings than it does now. And one more thing to keep in mind: We won't be seeing many like this in the future. If we understand the new Zoning Code correctly, third story additions on mostly two story blocks will have to be set back, as of this summer. A good thing? A bad thing? We shall see.


A few months back, we took a look at examples of bay windows in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood, one of the most actively developing areas in the city over the past decade or so. Stucco bay windows, often utilized and commonly criticized, are definitely prominent in this neighborhood, though we found numerous examples of other styles, too.

Graduate Hospital has a fairly homogenous look, with relatively few new buildings stretching much beyond the boundaries of the classic Philly row home look. In Northern Liberties and Fishtown, on the other hand, builders have given us considerably more progressive, interesting, compelling, and/or tragic architectural efforts. We'll leave it up to you to decide which homes are examples of what.

A common element in Philadelphia row house architecture is the bay window, the often rectangular butt-out from the front of homes, adding more space and light to interior rooms. Though these arguments likely occurred a hundred years ago as well, the explosion of home construction and renovation in the last ten years has sparked a (sometimes aggressive) conversation regarding the aesthetics of bay windows, particularly about those with a stucco finish. Many people are clearly alright with this look, as the houses and condo units keep on selling. Others lament the lack of creativity or character in stucco bays, preferring classic-looking bays or more creative materials and designs. And then there are those that believe that bay windows are non-conforming and shouldn't be allowed at all.

We snapped photos of different bay windows around the Graduate Hospital neighborhood. Good readers, what do you like?