If you received a building permit anytime within the 2018 Calendar Year for a project in Philadelphia, don’t forget that your Philadelphia City Tax Abatements must be filed no later than December 31!
For more information please go to:
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If you received a building permit anytime within the 2018 Calendar Year for a project in Philadelphia, don’t forget that your Philadelphia City Tax Abatements must be filed no later than December 31!
For more information please go to:
Warning: If you believe in Santa, you may want to stop here.
As the weather becomes crisp and cold, and the Christmas decorations begin to fill people’s homes and yards one particular childhood memory comes to mind.
In the 80s my family and I lived in a small post-war suburb in Northeast Ohio. The house was a Cape-Cod and was very small and compact like many houses of that era. Due to its size, one very important design feature was left out. The house did not have a fireplace. By the age of 4 this became a very alarming issue, as all of the popular media suggested, Santa would park his sleigh on the roof and use the chimney to enter the house and deliver the presents. But since we did not have a chimney or a fireplace, how was Santa going to find us? We had family members and friends who had similar issues and seemed to resolve this by purchasing a cardboard fireplace set. But on several occasions at the store, my sister and I had requested we purchase a fireplace set, and were very disappointed when my Mom said no.
As Christmas grew closer the fireplace issue became a continuous conversation and I believe it became very frustrating to my parents. So, my dad bundled my sister and I up in our winter coats and boots and we made a trip into the backyard. He then pointed to the roof where a small black pipe was sticking up above the roof and told us that is where Santa enters, its like a chimney just smaller and since Santa is magic, he will have no issue finding his way into the house. This explanation made sense and we were satisfied that Santa would find us. And he did that Christmas!
Fast forward approximately 15 years, at this point I am 20 years old attending Kent State for Architecture. During our 3rd year we have to take an Environmental Technology course. This course is our introduction to building systems such as heating and cooling, plumbing, electric etc. We begin our plumbing course work and we are learning how all of the toilets and sinks are connected to a sanitary line and to maintain the pressure balance in the pipes the sanitary lines are connected to a vent stack which extends through the roof. At this point I suddenly realize that all those years before, while standing in the backyard, my Dad was actually telling us that Santa went down the vent stack and then would have to make his grand entrance into the house…..through the toilet! I was shocked!
In recent years we have talked about family memories from past holidays and I asked my Dad if he remembered telling us this. Sadly, he does not remember this event, but he does admit that it sounds like something he would have done. We all did get a great laugh and now have a great family story to share!
Sara is an Architect, Interior Designer, and Sustainable Designer with lots of Christmas Spirit!
by Sara Pochedly
We are really excited to announce that South Philly Smokhaus is now open! Eric Daelhousen came to us 2 years ago with a plan of opening South Philly Smokhaus, and after considering several locations, all in South Philly, he decided to make his home here at Bok! (Which is really convenient for the Toner Team and anyone visiting us, since he is our downstairs neighbor.)
If you follow the lingering aroma of burning wood that brings memories of family gatherings and great food it will lead you to the doorstep of South Philly Smokhaus. The smoker is burning around the clock so that they can offer a wide variety of smoked meats including brisket, ribs, pulled pork, sausage and chicken quarters. In addition to the meat offerings there are a variety of sandwiches, sides and desserts. The full menu can be found at https://www.southphillysmokhaus.com. I am certain that you will find something you will like! In my opinion, there is no wrong choice, everything that we have sampled has been delicious.
As an added bonus Giunta’s Prime of Reading Terminal market has opened up its own separate counter, called Passio Prime, inside the South Philly Smokhaus restaurant bringing a delightful selection of fresh meats to the neighborhood.
From a design perspective Eric did something really special by engaging a variety of companies here at Bok to help actualize the restaurant. Each company/designer brought a specific touch and combined together provided a refined version of a traditional Barbecue aesthetic. The team included:
Architecture: Toner Architects – www.tonerarch.com
Interior design, furniture selection: Nuance Jewelry - www.nuance-jewelry.com
South Philly Smokhaus keychains: Nuance Jewelry - www.nuance-jewelry.com
Decorative paint: Done + Dusted - www.doneanddusted.us
Feature light fixture: Remark Glass - www.remarkglass.com
Countertops and tabletops: Bicyclette Furniture - www.bicyclettefurniture.com
Sandwich bread: Machine Shop Boulangerie - www.machineshopphilly.com
Photography: Stevie Chris - www.steviechris.com
We recommend you stop by and grab a bite, and promise you won’t be disappointed. But, please plan ahead and get there early, because they have been selling out daily!
Sara is an Architect, Interior Designer, Sustainable Designer and a secretly aspiring food critic.
Mark your calendars, save the date! Toner Architects will be opening our office doors for Bok Night from 4-7 on Friday, October 12 for Design Philadelphia. Please stop by for a visit!
You’ll get a chance to see our new office and have a look at what we’ve been working on. While you’re here, you can check out our office-mate Chris Landau’s work, as well.
We are located in Bok (A hub for Design Philadelphia this year) at
1901 South 9th Street (corner of 9th and Mifflin)
Philadelphia, PA 19148
In addition to our open house there will be multiple other companies hosting events that night at Bok including but not limited to:
by Sara Shonk Pochedly
We are very excited to announce that WE HAVE MOVED! (Same building, new office space)
As of Friday June 1, 2018, we are now located at:
1901 S. 9th Street (Bok) Room 425, Philadelphia, PA 19148
We are up to a staff of 6! And even though we loved our old space in the “Entry Room” it was just getting too tight for us all! We are now located on the 4th floor, directly above our previous space.
Below are some photos of our space before construction started:
Instead of having one big room we divided the original science lab space into two rooms--our main office and a conference room. Here are a few photos from during construction.
One of the new features we added to the space is an antique door we found at Provenance. We wanted to find something that felt like it belonged in the building and I think we found a good match. Below is a photo of Ian with our new door.
Our new office is located in the science wing and has many of the original details such as the casework with black resin tops, a lab sink, gas nozzles and clock.
Another great perk is the view!
A little bit about Bok (The building where our offices are located)
Bok was originally a City of Philadelphia technical high school that was designed by Architect Irwin Catharine and completed in 1938. The School District closed Bok in 2013 and it was re-opened by Scout as a mixed-use building in 2015. Toner Architects was in the first group of tenants to move into the building! Since the building was previously a high school there are a variety of types of “school” spaces in the building, including two gyms, an auditorium, locker rooms, a lunch room, science rooms, a library, and spaces for the technical high school program including wood shops, machine shops, automotive shop, and a beauty salon. Since the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, a good amount of the original detailing is still intact! There are currently approximately 100 diverse tenants in the building offering a wide array of different products and services available. Our neighbors include a glass blower, a bakery, a salon, a tattoo parlor, a catering company, a boxing gym, several wood workers, and photographers just to name a few! We also have a rooftop bar! In our opinion we have the best view of the city skyline from the 8th Floor!
Please feel free to stop by for a visit any time!
Well, it's been quite a while since my last entry. It's definitely been a busy year since then. We've added staff, taken on lots of new projects, been published, and even taken some time off. I'll write more about all of it in future posts.
Now that we have five (five!) of us in the office, we've decided to have everyone participate in the content you see here. Going forward, you'll see posts from everyone, on a variety of topics. Each post will have the author noted, so you can follow your favorite writer if you want to. Enjoy!
we know it's a mess
and we're working on it . . .
We're getting excited about this project--1627 Brandywine Street in Philadelphia. The building was originally a carriage house. More recently, it was used for storage. Now, we're working with the new owner to convert it to a home and studio.
The first floor will contain a garage and photography studio, with living space above. We really want to take advantage of the huge wooden roof trusses, so they'll stay exposed in the finished space. The front is in amazing condition; it's made of yellow-orange ironspot roman brick, with incredibly thin joints and great workmanship.
We'll keep you posted on this one. As we finish preliminary design, we're getting ready to meet with the neighbors, and then with the Historical Commission.
You've seen us write a lot about our Parish House project in the past, especially on social media. Well, the first two units are finally finished!
This building started out as part of a larger parcel, originally containing a church, a rowhouse, and the church's parish house, where events such as wedding receptions, performances, and classes took place.
When we started on the project, the first thing to do was to decide how to handle all of these buildings that were sharing one lot. The client, Red Oak Development, wanted to subdivide the land so that each building would be on a separate parcel. Ultimately, we ended up dividing it into eight pieces: one for the church, one for the existing rowhouse, one vacant lot, and five separate lots under the parish house. The church, which was in bad disrepair, was sold to another developer, who ultimately decided to demolish it and build several rowhouses. The existing rowhouse was renovated and sold, and we designed a new rowhouse on the empty lot.
The biggest challenge, though, was the parish house. This was a large stone building, built in 1912, with a combination of wood and steel structure. The developer decided at the beginning of the project to break the building up into five individual homes, which would feature very high ceilings (the existing building had ceiling heights of 10' in the basement, and 14' on the first floor!), large open spaces, and custom stairs. Here are some progress shots of the demolition and construction work:
Well, after almost two years of design and construction, the first two homes are complete. They are full of custom details, such as steel stairs with reclaimed wood treads, built-ins in the kitchens, concrete countertops, and original wood paneling salvaged during demolition. We'll have some final photos soon; stay tuned! In the meantime, here are some shots from the open house:
Philadelphia is an old city, whose plan was first laid out by William Penn in 1683. One of the main agencies in charge of protecting our architectural history is the Philadelphia Historical Commission (PHC). Philadelphia has a combination of historic properties (individual buildings that are protected) and historic districts (whole areas of the city that are protected). The PHC has a process in place to review any work on protected buildings and within protected districts.
The Commission's protections cover the exterior shape and materials of a building. The goal is to preserve existing history, and--when new development is planned--to protect the character of historic buildings and neighborhoods.
Everything is reviewed--from the materials to be used, to the restoration of existing cornices, to the shape of the roofline. We've worked with several clients to get through this process. There are several steps involved.
At the beginning of design, we will confirm that the client's property is protected. Our experience with past projects helps to inform us as to what the PHC is likely to approve, and we will try to steer our work in that direction. After putting together some preliminary drawings and taking existing-conditions photographs, we will meet with PHC staff at their office to discuss the project. They will often be able to give us a deeper historical perspective on the building, using their extensive collection of historical photographs.
Once preliminary design is complete, we assemble an application package for the PHC Architectural Committee. This committee is made up of architects and preservationists, and their purpose is to provide guidance to us regarding the specifics of our building. We will meet with the committee to discuss the particulars of our building, and our proposed solutions. They will ultimately make a recommendation to the Historical Commission, either in favor of or in opposition to the project.
A few weeks later, we meet with the Historical Commission, which is the group that will make the final decision on the project. The Commission is made up of architects, preservationists, historians, and representatives from the community and real-estate development interests. We present the project to them, and they ask questions. At the end of the hearing, they will take a vote either approving or denying the project.
But wait--there's more! Assuming the project is approved, it's time for us to start on construction drawings. This involves more detailed drawings, as well as material samples. For a typical project, this might include "shop drawings" from a custom window manufacturer, brick and mortar samples, and metal finish samples. Once the construction drawings are complete and the details and material samples are assembled, we make one last trip to the PHC office to get everything reviewed. The review is just to make sure that we haven't changed anything since our Commission approval. After review, the PHC staff will stamp the drawings, and then they are ready to go to Licenses and Inspections for building permit review.
If you have a property that's listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, we can help!
Maybe you get our newsletter, but want to see more of the day-to-day stuff. Maybe you like construction photos of current projects? Maybe you wonder what an architect thinks about as they move through the world? Maybe you just want the facts about someone?
Well, we have several ways we put information out there, so take your pick.
On our Facebook page, we post photos from construction sites, real estate listings for recently-completed projects, and the occasional sketch or drawing of a project still in design.
On our Instagram page, you will mostly find pictures of random buildings throughout Philadelphia (and, occasionally, other places), with our thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly. We also publish these photos to Facebook and Twitter.
Our Twitter feed is mostly comprised of photos from Instagram, but we occasionally drop a thought or two there. As you can see, getting down to 140 characters is a bit of a challenge for us.
We use LinkedIn to show you our resumes and to give basic info about our firm.
We've started using Pinterest more and more to communicate ideas with clients. It's easy to make boards to describe the feeling you want in a space, a particular countertop material, or even a color scheme.
If you're on one or more of these sites, connect with us and see what we're up to!
We've been working on a renovation and addition to this little guy in South Kensington:
This building is an L-shaped one, with a very steep staircase, tiny rooms, and closed-in windows. We'll be opening up the interior, enlarging the windows back to their original size, rebuilding the stair, and adding a third floor.
The project needed a zoning variance for the addition, which was granted. We are currently working on construction drawings for this one--stay tuned!
I recently read an article from the November/December 2015 issue of Remodeling Magazine called "The Blueprint of a Profitable Partnership", by Victoria Downing. (I know, I know, I'm pretty far behind on my magazines.) It was a good article, giving readers some tips on what an architect is looking for in a builder. To paraphrase:
This is a good list; I think most people would agree that these are reasonable things to want. And it got me thinking--what do we do in our office, to hold up our end of the bargain? How can we be good partners to our contractors?
Builders--do you have a project that needs an architect?
Sometimes, you find yourself in a situation where you need to get permission to use your property in a way that isn't normally allowed. Some examples of this might include:
So, while you may not need an architect to "design" something for you, you most definitely need drawings that are to scale, and show the kind of information that the authorities need to see.
This is something we do a lot of. Whether you're getting a request directly from L+I or your attorney is telling you about it, we can help. The requirements are different depending on what you're trying to achieve. We've been through dozens of different scenarios, and can work with you to provide you with the information you need.
Sometimes you have an existing condition at your property that you didn't know was a problem. That's what happened with this client--a corner-store owner who bought a store that had been in operation long before his time. A few years later, Licenses and Inspections informed him that his signs were not properly permitted, and that he needed to get permits or take the signs down. Not knowing what to do, he contacted us for help.
We were able to take our knowledge of the zoning code (which regulates signs) and produce some drawings for sign permits. Some existing signs would need to come down, and a new one would be made to meet the current size limitations. We handled the application process, and picked everything up after approval.
Some other examples of legalization plans we've worked on are occupancy plans for existing duplexes, site plans for parking garages, and interior plans for restaurants. Let us know if we can help you.
We started working on this project on South Street quite a while ago. One of the last parts of the project to be completed will be the front facade. The existing conditions left a lot to be desired.
Normally we'd work out the facade well in advance of construction. We did have a basic idea, but we also knew that a much larger development was soon going to start next door. The client wanted to wait to finalize our facade until the neighbor was complete; that way, we could do something that would complement their design.
Here, you can see our proposed design (on the left) next to the new neighboring building. We gave this sketch to the metal panel installer on a Friday. That weekend and into the next week, he completed fabrication and installation.
As you can see, the result is very close to what we drew, and the whole process (sketch to completed facade) only took ten days. In the world of architecture, this is like instant gratification!
One of the best parts of this job is designing something and then seeing it in its finished form. You always learn a lot about design, as well as about how things are put together and what the limitations are of your materials and the techniques used to assemble them.
Well, it's finally happened. We've grown to the point that we needed more help. Lucky for us, Sara was ready to go.
Sara Shonk, our newest team member, is a licensed Architect, Interior Designer, and LEED AP. Since her time at Kent State University, she has had over 10 years of experience in residential, higher education, K-12 facilities, health care, preservation, sustainability, commercial, retail and hospitality design.
Sara's experience will be a great benefit to our clients. She has a thorough knowledge of the complex building and accessibility codes that are applicable to larger projects. She has a strong work ethic that helps her develop creative solutions to design challenges and stay on schedule. And her interiors expertise means that at the end of the project, the final product will not only function, but will be beautiful as well.
It's always fun to see a new project get started. For this one, we'll be rebuilding the rear portion of an existing two-story building and adding a third floor and roof deck. But first--demolition!
We'll keep you updated as the project moves forward!
Our Tilton Street Residence (constructed by Red Oak Development) is completed and on the market! This is a wide lot (at least, for Philadelphia), which allowed us to turn the stair and make it more sculptural on the main floor.
The facade is metal panel, and gives a depth to this mostly-flat surface. There's a balcony at the second-floor bedroom that has a cool view of the elevated highway nearby.
Something we don't talk a lot about with these new-construction houses is the basement. In older houses, the basements are damp, dusty, and have low ceilings (usually around six feet!). However, in new construction you can solve those problems. We routinely have eight- or nine-foot basement ceilings, and the waterproofing is dependable enough to install carpeting over the concrete floor. This has the advantage of adding 30% more living space to a three-story house!
For those of you who love the construction photos, here are some we took during the process:
"Do you do work in New Jersey," you ask? Yes, sometimes we do. We're licensed architects in both PA and NJ, so we've got you covered.
Here is a little something we're working on in Voorhees, NJ; an attic conversion. We're adding three dormers (two in the front, one in the back) to the roof of this single-story home, which will add three bedrooms (including a master suite) and some living space.
For this project, we worked with the owner of a mixed-use building to renovate the first-floor facade. The original front was an interesting storefront, with large panes of glass and a double entry door (one for the first floor daycare center, and one for the upper-floor apartment). The trouble was that 1) the first-floor use is a daycare center, which needed privacy for the children and never had the windows uncovered, and 2) the large panes of glass were set into a very minimal structure that allowed too much movement; the glass was subject to breaking when large trucks drove by!
Obviously, this presented a problem for the users of the building, and a cost to the owner. So, she decided it was time for a makeover. The idea was to mimic, as closely as possible, the surrounding buildings.
As you can see above, we did just that. Cast-stone lintels, base course, and door surround complement the natural stone details next door. And a custom-built door (from John's Custom Stairs) finished off the look.
During construction, we had to work around several challenges, not least of which was the large steel beam that spanned over the original storefront windows. But the masons (Fresh Start Enterprises) did a great job through it all, and delivered a great final product.