2017 PEA Window Competition

For this year's competition we've teamed up with the Center for Architecture and Design to give, the creative thinkers, a chance to really express their design chops. In this design competition we asked participants to simply rethink and show what the facade of the Center should be!

The Center for Architecture and Design just developed this brand new space that is open, engaging, and meaningful for those that dare to enter through the same ol' facade. But what is THE facade of the Center for Architecture and Design? How can the facade call upon it's founding principles?

For this competition we were really looking for how each participant define the facade: how it pushes the envelope, both physically and subliminally, how it addresses the experience of those coming into or passing by and how it engages the public both inside and out beyond a visual connection.


Light Industrial | Samantha Holmes

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The Smith Young Field Company Building facade offers a unique opportunity to celebrate two under represented cultural resources in the “Chinatown” neighborhood of Philadelphia; the neighborhoods exciting industrial history, and the Center for Architecture.

With the construction of Reading Terminal and the Broad Street Station in the late 1800’s, the area now known colloquially as “Chinatown”, saw a development of light manufacturing buildings in the neighborhood bound by Race, Arch, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Streets. This revolutionary loft style architecture opened the door for exploration in steel and concrete structural technology. The Smith Young Field Company building is a transitional building in this exploration and one of the earliest examples of Classical Revival motifs in a Philadelphia commercial loft building according to the National Registrar of Historic Places. As such, the building deserves a store front that highlights its significance and era without drawing away from its own classical beauty. To achieve this, this design harkens back to the fanciful explorations with metal work seen at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Layers of sculptural metal rods dance in front of and above the transparent storefront drawing attention up to the detailing of the rest of the façade. Dark metal work and frames reflect the early façade detailing of cast iron buildings while geometric patterning maintains a modern aesthetic.

This transparent front also gives the Center for Architecture the opportunity to visually connect with the street. Deep displays and crowded windows currently mask the vibrant community space that dwells within the building. The Center, which often hosts large numbers of Philadelphia’s design community, deserves to engage with the public realm it so amply serves. With this shallow façade and a more direct visual connection to these events the Center can draw in a wider range of the surrounding community to engage with the design of our city. Hopefully, with the Center of Architecture’s leadership, this quiet simplistic design can open a discussion and act as a new template for the street treatment of the other loft style buildings in the neighborhood and city.


Emerge | Alexander Bruce

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Emerge, Architects! The opportunity has arrived to reaffirm the mission and ideals of our beloved profession to the City of Philadelphia! The Center for Architecture and Design is an institution of collaborative learning, public engagement and social interaction. As the epicenter of design in Philadelphia, the storefront is a critical component to its success. It should demonstrate the progressive, dynamic nature of our profession and personify our commitment to community engagement. This proposal seeks to reinvigorate the storefront through a series of interventions to support and advance the CFAD’s mission.

In order to engage the public, the storefront must interact with the street! After a recent rebranding initiative, the image of the CFAD remains unchanged to the uninformed passerby. Visitors enter through the front vestibules, unsure of the correct entrance, and wonder if they have ended up in the right place when walking through the bookstore and galleries. The first intervention is to open the façade to the street and introduce the public to the new Center for Architecture and Design! Removing the existing glass block that had previously compressed the entrance allows the storefront to soar vertically at the building edge and increase visibility from the sidewalk. This provides an opportunity to boldly present the new graphics, envisioned here by sculptural light fixtures. The new storefront continues to announce itself to the public with a delicate halo that extends out above the sidewalk and signifies the building entrance. Within the center of the halo, a suspended lounge provides visitors a space to relax and experience Arch Street from a new vantage point.

A critical component of the CFA’s mission is to educate the public about architecture. The dwindling architectural bookstore leaves both architects and visitors yearning for a more. The immense body of knowledge of our institution will be represented here, and will serve as a resource to professionals and community members alike. At the entrance, café and lounge seating provides informal meeting areas to further encourage public engagement.

Let us emerge from the depths of our secluded refuge and out the street to engage and educate the public about the power of design!


An Extension of the Sidewalk | Alex Klohr

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The Young Smith Field Company Building which houses the Philadelphia Center for Architecture retains its integrity of location, design, materials, workmanship, and feeling of the Classical Revival style while emphasizing new modern elements. By original design, building’s principal facade is vertically divided into three parts; a 2 story base, a five story middle segment, and a single cap. While focusing on the two story base and preserving original limestone massing and detailing we can create new insertions which re-prioritize and re-order the hierarchy of the bays and entrance into the Center for Architecture. Providing a new visual and physical connection with visitors and members from the street is key in the new design. A sense of transparency and connection to the public is instilled in the building as well as in the future vision of the AIA. The large glass windows on the first floor allow an extension of the sidewalk and create a place for display and interaction. Opening up the dense and dated glass block windows allows for an operable and fluid second story undulating window design. This creates a view, connection to the street, and “balcony” space for tenants on the second floor while still holding true to the proportional guides set forth by the original Architect. Simplifying in color and material helps to maintain the grittiness of the city in a sophisticated and valuable manner. The future of the Center for Architecture is bright.


Spliced Window | Philip Rivera

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The Center for Architecture of Philadelphia is placed at one of the busiest streets within Center City. The adjacency to Reading, Terminal Market, Jefferson station, and the Convention Center brings in tourists, commuters and traveling business along Arch Street. The Center’s goal is be an accessible communal space to explore architecture and design, and engage visitors to reflect on how these disciplines affect us all in our daily lives. The center has certainly become a cornerstone in the design community as a space; however the existing storefront as a piece of architecture does not.

The existing storefront is simply too much a “storefront.” The Center for Architecture aims to be an inviting civic space, but appears too similar to adjacent commercial spaces along Arch Street. The bays windows showcase the center like sweets for sale at a candy shop rather than be an engaging and expressive front door. The façade for the Center for Architecture should be bold, dynamic and truly engaging at the pedestrian scale. The proposed façade addresses this by splicing the concept of a transparent storefront with more enticing surfaces such mirrors and screens. The play of transparency, reflection and projection exaggerate the textures, movements, and ambiance of Arch Street.

The composition becomes an ever changing surface that flows above the sidewalk and creates a pronounced canopy above the existing entrances. The new façade is envisioned as a series of prefabricated panels that interchange between high transparency glazing, reflective metal plates and embedded LED screens. The staggered LED screens provide an opportunity for super graphics/ signage that can travel along façade like a digital billboard. Below the canopy, the staggering of transparency with reflectivity creates an enticing new visually striking “storefront” meant to capture pedestrian attention while allowing peek beyond the surface.


Sewing | Come Menage + Keren Bao

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'Sewing' is a dialogue between old and new. It contrasts the heavy stone material framing the center's facade with the lightness of a fiber material filtering the light. The grooves in the existing stone was meant to bring a sense of human scale where the building meets the street. This detail is repeated, woven into multiple lines that brings further details to the viewer in the street.

The current storefront of the center is replaced with a clean vertical curtain wall that highlight the contrast between old and new, between heavy and light.