Architects Group Recognizes PHA Sustainable Project

Philadelphia, PA (October 14, 2010) The Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has recognized a PHA rehabilitation project in West Philadelphia with one of its 2010 Awards for Design Excellence.

The project is located on the distressed 800 block of Markoe Street and represents the final phase of the Lucien E. Blackwell development. Seventeen homes will be renovated while six new homes will be built on infill lots. Work on the redevelopment is well under way.

Jibe Design, a small Center City firm that won a PHA competition among young architects to handle the design, received an Honor Award for unbuilt projects. Schwam Architects, the architect of record for T.N. Ward, the construction manager for the development, was also recognized.

"The strategy of keeping and renovating old salvageable, existing buildings, and filling the gaps between them with new construction, we found to be a sound, sensitive and intelligent solution," the AIA award jury commented.

Hundreds of projects were entered in the AIA contest, but only 16, including Markoe Street, received awards.

"Winning an award for design excellence and sustainability is a much needed and appreciated shot in the arm to the folks at the housing authority who are working tirelessly to sustain and maintain the level of excellence in development in the City," said Michael Johns, PHA's General Manager of Community Development and Design.

Juliet Whelan, the principal architect of Jibe Design, is thrilled to have the opportunity to revitalize a street that has seen better days.

"What makes the project stand out is that it does combine the preservation with the new construction. We're respecting what's already there as well as filling in the gaps," she said.

Whelan added that the design of this project brings the block into the 21st century. Her design uses the facades of existing homes as much as possible and emphasizes reuse of existing materials. The plan also redesigns the interiors of the homes according to modern standards with better lighting, better layout, and no loss of comfort or design excellence. It considers cost, energy savings, and impact on the environment.

PHA will have invested approximately $6.7 million once the redevelopment of Markoe Street is completed. Johns said stimulus funds from the federal government made the project possible.

"Without the stimulus dollars, it's not a project that we would have necessarily done right now. Because we had already done preliminary planning, we were ready to go when the dollars were made available," he said.

Completion of the project is expected in early 2011. PHA worked with neighbors and community groups on the redesign of the block.


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The design for PHA's Markoe Street redevelopment uses the facades of existing homes as much as possible and emphasizes reuse of existing materials.

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17 homes will be rehabilitated while six new homes will be built on infill lots under PHA's award winning Markoe Street redevelopment. Work on the project is well under way.

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Juliet Whelan of Jibe Design (3rd from right) receives the AIA honor award for her design of PHA's Markoe Street redevelopment. Also shown (from left) are: Gerald Schwam and Kent Cooper of Schwam Architects, and Ziaur Rahman, Gamil Hall, and Michael Johns of PHA, and Jason Flax of Jibe Design.