Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Facade preservation: The Saint James in Philadelphia

With the debate about Point Park University's proposal for its playhouse continuing, I thought I'd share this piece of information with you. Some folks from Philadelphia who are reading this are very likely familiar with the follow project. It is a residential project in which the developer initially wanted to level a portion of historic buildings dating back to the early 1800s, and actually initially served as the first headquarters of the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PSFS). This project is none other than the erection of the St. James

The developers, P&A Associates, initially wanted to completely level the structures that made up York Row, but local residents and preservationists fought to prevent this from happening. They wanted the buildings in their entirety to remain. However, due to long periods of vacancy and the presence of vandals and the homeless, the buildings were essentially irreparable. The project would be delayed for some time due to the slow housing market from the time of the announcement in 1995 until later that decade when the market was booming. P&A Associates ultimately built their condominium tower while preserving the facades of the York Row structures.

If anything, Point Park University should consider this practice. After hearing further commentary regarding the Wood Street buildings, it seems as though incorporating three buildings with differing floor spacing into a cultural center would be too challenging. Plus, the structural integrity is apparently compromised. P&A Associates was able to preserve the facades of historically significant buildings for their project, and I think Point Park can and should follow suit.

I actually recall the first time I walked passed this building and looking with amazement at how well the new building fit in the rest of the neighborhood given the facade preservation.

For further information regarding the preservation of York Row, click here: http://www.preservationalliance.com/news/news-psfs.php