Overview

Philadelphia is a city of history, and its history is reflected and embedded in its architecture. From Philadelphia City Hall and Independence Hall to Christ Church, Philadelphia is one of the most prestigious architectural cities in the country. But it’s not stuck in the past. Philadelphia’s economy and population are growing, and they’re demanding an increasing number of facilities across the city. From reinventing buildings from the past, to building new fitness centers, beautiful hotels, and growing colleges, the list of new commercial development in Philadelphia is rapidly expanding. Those buildings don’t just appear themselves: they need architects who understand the city and how to help it grow. Here are the top 9 commercial architects in the Philadelphia area right now.

Top Architects

9
WRT

Architects:
David Wallace
Ian McHarg
Bill Roberts
Tom Todd
Joseph W. Healy
Keiko Tsuruta Cramer
Maarten I. Pesch

Address:
1700 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

About WRT

Founded in 1963 by David Wallace, Ian McHarg, Bill Roberts, and Tom Todd, the firm is the home for a team of planners, urban designers, architects, and landscape architects, with a focus on commercial development projects. The firm has recently been awarded the 2016 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Philadelphia Merit Design Award in the Built Category, the AIA National Associates Award for 2016, and, in 2015, Engineering News Record’s (ENR) 2015 “Best of the Best” for Landscape/Urban Development.” The Philadelphia offices are led by Principal Architects Joseph W. Healy, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Keiko Tsuruta Cramer, PLA, ASLA, and Maarten I. Pesch, AIA, LEED AP. Healy has worked in architecture for 28 years and has won numerous awards, including for his work on the $4.6M Blue Ball Dairy Barn in New Castle, Delaware, an historic and adaptive reuse project that garnered both a Gold LEED rating and the highest honor award from The American Institute of Architects in Philadelphia. He’s also served on the the Board of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council. Cramer has over two decades of experience and degrees in landscape architecture, architecture, and engineering. She also maintains her architectural license in Japan and has worked on numerous projects abroad, including the Daiichi Mutual Life Insurance Office Landscape in Kanagawa. Pesch is originally from the Netherlands, where he trained as both an urban designer and architect.

Featured Projects

Working on the one-acre-sized land, the goal of the improvement plan for Philadelphia’s City Hall Courtyard by was to reclaim usable space to support the activation of the courtyard through programs and events, and also reflect the history of the site as the center of William Penn’s plan for the city. The City Hall Courtyard at 1401 John F Kennedy Boulevard is a crossroads and a pathway, allowing pedestrians to circulate along the North-South and East-West axes of Broad and Market Streets. Compared to the original, utilitarian layout of the Courtyard, the present-day condition has lost its sense of uniformity and has a limited potential for activation. Drawing inspiration from the site’s extensive history, WRT’s new design recalls the courtyard’s function as the city’s first Waterworks, surrounded by a circular path and public gardens. Reclamation of the space includes removing raised planters, consolidating transit entrances and exits, and covering the open edges with walkable grates to expand the usable area.

8
Stokes Architecture

Architects:
Richard Stokes

Awards:
Preservation Alliance Grand Jury Award,
Washington DC Historic Preservation Award

Address:
2103 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

About Stokes Architecture

Formed in 2000 by Richard Stokes, Stokes Architecture is a full-service architecture firm that specializes in a wide range of projects, from large-scale hospitality design to small scale interior fit-outs. They have an extensive history working on commercial projects throughout the Philadelphia area. Stokes, AIA, LEEP AP, serves as principal and is a licensed architect in six states and the District of Columbia. He is also a member of NCARB, the Philadelphia Preservation Alliance, and the AIA. Prior to founding his firm, Stokes worked at Venturi Scott Brown and at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. He has a Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Architecture from Kent State University. Stokes Architecture has been awarded the Preservation Alliance Grand Jury Award and the Washington DC Historic Preservation Award and has been featured in Hospitality Design, Smithsonian Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Philadelphia Magazine, Surface Magazine, OnTap Magazine, and Zagat’s.

Featured Projects

City Fitness, at 1428 Frankford Avenue, was Stokes Architectures’ exploration of the realm of physical fitness design. The firm worked to repurpose beautiful, industrial buildings by embracing their existing character and inserting architectural elements. The space combined two buildings, via a wall breach, and added a new second-floor space. The second-floor addition, with its floor-to-ceiling glass outer walls, gives full views of Philadelphia and Fishtown. The building’s façade at the street level was opened up, with glass overhead doors and large windows. These openings put on display the juice-bar and gym check-in, an origami-like sculptural object made up of 63 uniquely shaped plywood panels assembled on site. Beyond the check-in desk, a new glass ceiling bridges the gap between buildings and gives natural sunlight to a live tree. The rear of the building, with its airy, wood truss ceiling, acts as the main fitness floor. A mezzanine was added, bringing guests closer to the El Train that roars past the gym on the Front Street side.

7
DAS Architects

Architects:
Susan M. Davidson
David A. Schultz

Awards:
National Association of Interior Designers First Place

Address:
1628 John F Kennedy Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19103

About DAS Architects

DAS Architects, one of the country’s top design firms, was founded by Susan M. Davidson, IDC, and David A. Schultz, AIA, in 1990. DAS offers a full range of architectural, interior design, and procurement services for a variety of architectural needs. DAS’s resume includes renovations to Jekyll Island Club (an historic resort originally created by J.P. Morgan), the Tidewater Inn, Inn at the Beach Club, Hyatt Centric Hotel, Hotel Metro, the Granary, the Beacon in Philadelphia, and Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in Manhattan. DAS designs are regularly featured among the country’s top designers in publications such as Hospitality Design, Nation’s Restaurant News, Contract Design, Chef Magazine, Restaurants USA, Retail Design, Interior Design, and Interiors. Schultz and Davidson serve as co-founders and principals at DAS. Schultz has over 25 years of experience in the industry and worked on over 150 signature hospitality projects. Davidson is responsible for the oversight of all interior design at the firm. Her work for “Le Bec Fin” won First Place from the National Association of Interior Designers. The firm is affiliated with the American Institute of Architects, Pennsylvania Society of Architects, the Foundation for Architecture, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Urban Land Institute.

Featured Projects

DAS Architects is the firm responsible for a new hotel located at 219 S 17th Street: the Hyatt Centric Philadelphia. Part of Hyatt’s Centric brand of hotels, the space is specifically designed for business and leisure travelers, and they have opened sister buildings in New York, Paris, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami. The Hyatt Centric in Philadelphia will be a high-rise property and feature over 300 guest rooms and 40 spacious and modern executive suites over 13 floors and 7,300 square feet of retail space. DAS also worked to design and include a 220-car underground parking garage. The ground floor will feature high-end retailers and restaurants, while the second floor will be the lobby and main public space, and house a second restaurant. DAS worked to help integrate the hotel into the neighborhood and history of Rittenhouse Square and Philadelphia, and it will visually reflect the vertical expression of the Art Deco high-rise era.

6
Cecil Baker + Partners

Architects:
Cecil Baker + Partners

Awards:
American Builders Quarterly Building Excellence Awards,
Residential Architect Magazine Hall of Fame Leadership Award,
Friends of Pennsylvania Commonwealth Gold Award

Address:
1107 Walnut Street # 2, Philadelphia, PA 19107

About Cecil Baker + Partners

Established in 1982, Cecil Baker + Partners is an architecture firm that offers feasibility studies, programming, design of new structures, adaptive reuse of existing structures, and interior design for commercial projects in Philly. The firm has been recognized by The American Institute of Architects, Progressive Architecture, Architectural Record, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They have had their work published across the United States, Europe, Japan, and South America. Recent awards include Building Excellence Awards from American Builders Quarterly, the Residential Architect Magazine Hall of Fame 2008 Leadership Award, and the Friends of Pennsylvania Commonwealth Gold Award. The firm is led by Principal Cecil Baker, who was born and raised in Argentina before coming to the United States in 1959 to attend Williams College, before going on to get his Master of Architecture degree, studying under Louis Kahn at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2012, Baker was appointed by the Mayor of Philadelphia to serve on the City Planning Commission’s Civic Design Review Committee. Baker is also a past board member and vice president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA and has been a regional representative on the national AIA’s Standing Committee on Housing. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University and lectured at other institutions of higher learning.

Featured Projects

Cecil Baker + Partners helped design the Bridgette Mayer Gallery, located at 709 Walnut Street in Philadelphia’s Washington Square. Bridgette Mayer wished to enlarge her gallery and position it as the premier venue for contemporary art in Philadelphia. The firm incorporated a rear first-floor apartment and a full basement into the new, 3,000-square-foot gallery space. The design objective was to create a “white box” field wherein the experience of observing art is unencumbered by architectural gestures. The basement floor at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery was converted into administrative offices and a sales center, with adjacent service and storage spaces. Through sensitive planning and thoughtful choice of materials, Cecil Baker + Partners designed a series of interlocking, fluid spaces that are defined by simple shapes and quiet detailing.

5
Archer & Buchanan

Architects:
Daniel G. Russoniello
Michele L.W. Thackrah

Awards:
PA Society of American Registered Architects Design Award,
West Chester Preservation Alliance Bricks & Mortar Award,
Preservation Alliance Award for Greater Philadelphia,
PA Society of American Registered Architects Design Award,
PA Society of American Registered Architects Outstanding Firm Award

Address:
125 W Miner Street, West Chester, PA 19382

About Archer & Buchanan

Since its inception in 1996, Archer & Buchanan has worked in the Philadelphia area, designing and creating homes for a long list of businesses in the Philadelphia area. Much of their work is inspired by the works and design of Mellor, Meigs and Howe; Walter Durham; R. Brognard Okie; and Wilson Eyre. The firm is led by Principals Daniel G. Russoniello, AIA, LEED AP, and Michele L.W. Thackrah, AIA, LEED AP. Russoniello leads the firm’s Institutional Projects team. He holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and has over 30 years of experience at a variety of architectural firms based in Philadelphia. Thackrah leads Archer & Buchanan’s growing hospitality design practice. Before joining A&B in 2002, Thackrah worked at a variety of design firms in Washington DC and Philadelphia. Archer & Buchanan has won a long list of awards, some of which include the 2016 PA Society of American Registered Architects Design Award, the 2016 West Chester Preservation Alliance Bricks & Mortar Award, the 2016 Preservation Alliance Award for Greater Philadelphia, the 2015 PA Society of American Registered Architects Design Award, and the 2015 PA Society of American Registered Architects Outstanding Firm Award.

Featured Projects

Archer Buchanan was the architect of record for Rathburn Hall at Grove City College. Together the two buildings form the center of spiritual life on the Grove City College campus. The new 15k-square-foot structure builds on and respects the original campus plan. Rathburn Hall serves as the home for the dean of the chapel, more than 23 student-run ministries, a large fellowship hall, a great room, and seminar and meeting spaces. The building has a traditional aesthetic in keeping with the collegiate Gothic-Tudor style of all the college’s buildings. The firm also worked on the Wister Education Center and Greenhouse for The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College. A sustainably designed (LEED Gold) facility, the center serves staff and volunteers of Swarthmore College. Archer & Buchanan worked to create a state-of-the-art greenhouse, providing space for plant propagation, overwintering, cultivation, and display. The arboretum and Wister Center have 105 volunteers and approximately 35k visitors annually.

4
Groundswell

Architects:
David Fierabend

Address:
1639 N Hancock Street #302, Philadelphia, PA 19122

About Groundswell

Located in Olde Kensington, Groundswell Design Group is a full-service design firm specializing in commercial projects. They’ve worked for a long list of private business clients, and with cities, to develop public commercial grounds. A graduate of Florida International University’s Department of Architecture, the firm’s principal David Fierabend is responsible for the aesthetic and creation of Spruce Street Harbor Park and PHS beer garden, as well as hip mainstays such as Morgan’s Pier and FringeArts’ new building on the Pier. Groundswell’s work has been featured in philly.com, ABC6, Restaurant Development + Design Magazine, Philadelphia Magazine, Akron Beacon Journal, cleveland.com, the San Jose Mercury News, and The St. Louis Business Journal. The firm has also been awarded the “Best of Philly” title for Best Landscape Designer. Some famous projects outside of Philadelphia include work for Proximo Spirits to redesign Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey Distillery in Denver, CO; Empire Diner in New York City; and St. Louis Union Station in St. Louis, MO.

Featured Projects

The Spruce Street Harbor Park at 301 S Christopher Columbus Boulevard in Penn’s Landing was designed by Groundswell and is a true celebration of Philadelphia and the Delaware Riverfront. In 2014, the Delaware River Waterfront Corp commissioned Groundswell to design a summer park on the Delaware River. Often noted as one of the country’s best urban beaches, Travel and Leisure ranked Spruce Street Harbor Park as one of the world’s best floating restaurants. Since then, the space has welcomed more than 200k visitors. The location features floating river barges that extend into the harbor and cantilevered net lounges that suspend visitors over the water. A variety of food and beverage options provide something for everyone. Amid the bustle of the park, an array of LED lights and hammocks hang from the existing trees, offering an opportunity to stop and take it all in of Philadelphia’s beauty.

3
Metcalfe

Architects:
Alan Metcalfe
Aaron Goldblatt

Awards:
American Association of Museums Excellence in Exhibition Design Award,
City of Philadelphia Commerce Department and the Community Design Collaborative Storefront Challenge Best Overall Design,
HGTV Fresh Faces of Design,
Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums “Buildy” Award,
City of Philadelphia Commerce Department and the Community Design Collaborative Storefront Challenge Best Overall Design,
PA Brownfields Conference Extreme Makeover Award.

Address:
211 N 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

About Metcalfe

In 2002, Alan Metcalfe invited one of his clients, Aaron Goldblatt, then deputy director at the Wagner Free Institute of Science, to join together to start a new firm. Metcalfe, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, worked as lead designer and partner at three Philadelphia firms before starting Metcalfe. He holds a Master of Architecture from Columbia University, a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Tufts University and is LEED AP and NCARB certified. The firm’s work has been featured in a variety of publications, including The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Context Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the New York Times. Metcalfe has worked on a mixture of commercial and business projects throughout the city. Their work has been feted with a long list of awards, including the 2017 American Association of Museums, Excellence in Exhibition Design Award; the 2016 City of Philadelphia Commerce Department and the Community Design Collaborative Storefront Challenge, Best Overall Design; the 2015 HGTV Fresh Faces of Design; the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums “Buildy” Award; the 2014 City of Philadelphia Commerce Department and the Community Design Collaborative Storefront Challenge, Best Overall Design; and the 2013 PA Brownfields Conference, Extreme Makeover Award.

Featured Projects

The home of Philadelphia’s public-access television PhillyCAM (Philadelphia Community Access Media) hired Metcalfe to design its new, permanent, 6,000-square foot headquarters at 699 Ranstead Street. Located in Center City, just around the corner from the Liberty Bell, the new facility features television studios, media production training rooms, and offices. A bank of windows at street level displays a bustling café and a lively television studio to draw in passersby. Metcalfe also worked to redesign of the building’s 7th Street façade with bold exterior graphics, including a colorful digital billboard based on the organization’s brand identity, new exterior signage, and brightly colored sign bands. The project was awarded with the 2016 City of Philadelphia Commerce Department and the Community Design Collaborative Storefront Challenge award for Best Overall Design. Metcalfe worked with Morris Arboretum to craft a unique treetop and environmental experience — a place to learn from nature. The result of their design/build project is the Morris Arboretum’s Out on a Limb section at 100 East Northwestern Avenue in Philadelphia. The project extends along 450 feet of elevated pathways within the arboretum’s forest. A popular visitor section is the “Squirrel Scramble,” an open-net climb suspended 50 feet above the ground where visitors can play and lounge in the forest canopy. Metcalfe has received numerous awards, including the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums ”Buildy” Award, the 2012 International Galvanizing Award, the 2010 AIA Pennsylvania’s Architectural Excellence Award, the 2010 AIA Philadelphia Awards for Design Excellence Gold Medal Award, the 2010 American Association of Museums Excellence in Exhibition Design Award, the 2010 International Making Cities Livable Design Awards Green Places Award and a 2010 Best of Philly Award.

2
SMP Architects

Architects:
David Ade
Jane Rath
Todd Woodward

Awards:
Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia Grand Jury Award,
Improving the Acceptance of Green awards,
Green School of the Year from the Central PA Green Building Council,
AIA COTE “Top 10” Green Building Award.

Address:
1600 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

About SMP Architects

Before becoming SMP Architects, the firm has been known by many names, including Susan Maxman & Partners from 1998 to 2007, Susan Maxman Architects from 1985 to 1998, and Maxman / Sutphin from 1981 to 1985. The firm offers of 30 years of experience working in a variety of architectural fields, but they have a unique experience working with large commercial projects. The firm is led by Principals David Ade, AIA, LEED AP, who leads interdisciplinary project teams for institutional and academic projects; Jane Rath AIA; and Todd Woodward, AIA, LEED AP, who also teaches Ecological Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. The firm has won numerous awards, including the 2017 Grand Jury Award from the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, the 2016 and 2015 Improving the Acceptance of Green awards, the 2014 Green School of the Year from the Central PA Green Building Council, and the 2012 AIA COTE “Top 10” Green Building Award.

Featured Projects

SMP Architects led the design for “KidZooU,” one of the primary components in the Philadelphia Zoo’s ongoing campus transformation. Using environmentally responsive design and adaptive reuse, SMP worked to create a cohesive visitor experience. The project, completed in 2013, spanned the renovation of 17.4k square feet and developments of new buildings at 4,000 square feet. Centered at KidZooU is the new Education Center, which is an adaptive renovation of the historic Pachyderm House, originally by Philadelphia architect Paul Cret in 1938. The renovation by SMP includes historic restoration of doors and windows, decorative medallions, stonework, copper detailing, and the famous elephant weathervane that sits atop the building’s tower. The work also provides universal accessibility, envelope upgrades, and systems replacement. The project integrates animal exhibits and engagement with demonstration and interpretation of environmentally responsive building and site design practices. For its work with the Zoological Society of Philadelphia, SMP’s work at KidZooU received the Groundbreaker Award from the Delaware Valley Green Building Council for environmentally responsive design, a Grand Jury Award from the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, a Historic Preservation Award from Preservation Pennsylvania for historic restoration and rehabilitation, and The Exhibit of the Year Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for live animal display and exhibit design.

1
Studio Agoos Lovera

Architects:
Jorge Lovera
Ted Agoos
David Franke
Jim Row

Awards:
Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s Grand Jury Award,
PA Brownfields Conference Extreme Makeover Award,
General Building Contractors Association’s award for Best Adaptive Reuse Project

Address:
1 S Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

About Studio Agoos Lovera

Studio Agoos Lovera was founded in 1983 by partners Jorge Lovera and Ted Agoos, after several years of working together in leading Philadelphia design firms. Lovera retired in 2011 and Agoos at the end of 2013. The firm has been lead by Principals David Franke and Jim Row since 1999. They’ve contributed to much of Philadelphia’s commercial landscape, working on huge projects throughout the city. The firm has been awarded with numerous achievements, including the 2014 and 2013 Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s Grand Jury Award; the 2013 PA Brownfields Conference, Extreme Makeover Award; and the General Building Contractors Association’s award for Best Adaptive Reuse Project. David Franke, RA, holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Temple University. Franke is also an active member of the Doylestown Pennsylvania Mercer Museum and the Fonthill Castle Board of Trustees. He is also a member of the Building and Facilities Committee of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He’s joined by James Rowe, AIA, who holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Virginia. Beyond Studio Agoos Lovera, Rowe is was director and president of AIA Philadelphia in 2015 and a director of the Center for Architecture, and he is currently an adjunct professor of Architecture at Drexel University.

Featured Projects

From 2001 to 2003, Studio Agoos Lovera was the Architect of Record for the design of the National Football League’s Philadelphia Eagles Stadium, Lincoln Financial Field. Agoos Lovera’s responsibility included the development and documentation of the “The Linc’s” exterior skin, pro shop, novelty stores, stands, and restaurant design, and they served as site architects for the construction of the stadium. Located at 1 Lincoln Financial Field Way, the stadium measures out at 1.7M square feet with 68,532 seats, including 10,828 club seats and 172 corporate suites. The combination of token brick on the stadium’s exterior and modern cool on the inside call to mind the strategy used at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The project was awarded the “General Building Contractors Association, Best Commercial Project” in 2005. The $512M stadium was the most expensive professional football arena at the time.

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