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The Best Commercial Architects in Philadelphia

18 Min Read

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.

Archer & Buchanan

125 W Miner Street, West Chester, PA 19382

Archer & Buchanan Architecture is a full-service architectural design firm meeting the needs of sophisticated clients who value a collaborative design process, attention to detail, and quality construction. Since the firm’s inception in 1996, Archer & Buchanan has been recognized for exceptional design of institutional projects including work for educational, not-for-profit, and commercial clients; residential projects including new homes, additions, renovations, and historic restorations; and equestrian facilities. The firm is led by founding partners Peter Archer, AIA, and Richard Buchanan, AIA, newest Partner Michele Thackrah, AIA, LEED AP, and Principal Dan Russoniello, AIA, LEED AP. For all projects, Archer & Buchanan begins with the belief that buildings will be inhabited for a century or more and should continue to gain character, beauty, and value as the years pass.

Project by Archer & Buchanan

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 15,000-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 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 designed a state-of-the-art greenhouse, providing space for plant propagation, overwintering, cultivation, and display.


The Philadelphia Bldg. 1315 Walnut St. Ste. #600, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Operating from offices in Philadelphia and West Chester, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware, Bernardon is an architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture firm that caters to a wide variety of markets and clientele including corporate, civic & cultural, custom homes, healthcare, higher education, hospitality, industrial/warehousing, multifamily, retail, and senior living. The firm’s people and process are responsible for delivering 48 years of thoughtful designs that have contributed to its regional and national success and recognition. The firm is ranked on the 2020 Architectural Record list of Top 300 U.S. Architecture Firms and has also been recognized for excellence in publications such as the Philadelphia Business Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Environments for Aging. The 80-person team at Bernardon is a team of impassioned listeners, lifelong innovators, and imaginative design leaders. A Principal of the firm manages each project from start to finish, ensuring continuity of effort and provides for ownership-level leadership to enhance the “hands-on” project design and management services which have come to define Bernardon’s rise to prominence in the architecture and design community. The long-lasting relationships Bernardon creates with clients are a testament to a process that starts with their ability to carefully listen to and understand clients’ visions (DREAM), to use their skills and imagination to create solutions (DESIGN), and to foster a collaborative environment to meet and exceed clients’ unique project goals (SUCCEED).

Project by Bernardon

Pictured here is Festival Pier, a waterfront redevelopment situated on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The project is comprised of two mixed-use structures, set in a nine-acre public park, that frame a pedestrian thoroughfare connecting Spring Garden Street to the Delaware River. The new development is being created to add density to the waterfront. Historically, the placement of Interstate 95 has separated Center City from the waterfront, thus limiting maritime recreation and tourism. In response, Bernardon has provided architecture and landscape architecture design services for the design of a 481-unit residential community with indoor and outdoor private amenities, 50,000 SF of retail space, and parking spaces while also emphasizing open space, access to the Delaware River, and a sense of fluidity between the streetscape and waterfront. To ensure sustainability and environmental impact, the project team has worked closely with FEMA and the Army Corp of Engineers to ensure that the project is constructed outside of the floodplain while also constructed in accordance with building and energy codes. The Festival Pier Redevelopment is set to be completed in 2024.

BRR Architecture

600 Chestnut St. Ste. #630, Philadelphia, PA 19106

For almost six decades BRR Architecture has provided its architectural design services to every state. It is popular among commercial businesses because BRR Architecture treats its customers like partners by implementing a simplified building process that thrives on communication. The design stage will utilize unique technologies that can render realistic virtual models and animated walkthroughs of the project before construction. BRR Architecture’s state-of-the-art design process has resulted in projects that have caught the attention of the AIA. The firm has received the AIA Central States Region Outstanding Emerging Professionals Friendly Firm for five years in a row now.

Project by BRR Architecture

BRR is headquartered in Kansas, but has 11 satellite offices, one of which is in Philadelphia. Its Pennsylvania office is in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. The contemporary design encourages collaboration among colleagues and has a sleek design that has caught the attention of many businesses in the state. BRR has designed some of the most creative offices in the city and it includes the offices of Intuitive Co. The firm created modern offices with an open layout that also thrives in collaboration. Its structure is very similar to a warehouse because of its industrial features such as the custom-made metal staircase and exposed timber frames. Pops of color are found in the glass-walled conference rooms but the workstations are kept very simple and clean.

Cecil Baker + Partners

1107 Walnut Street # 2, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Established in 1982, Cecil Baker + Partners is an architecture firm that offers feasibility studies, programming, adaptive reuse, and interior design for commercial projects in Philadelphia. Its works can be found in different places outside of the United States like Europe, Japan, and South America. Recent awards include Building Excellence Awards from American Builders Quarterly and its projects have been featured numerous times in online magazine Curbed Philly. The firm is led by Principal Cecil Baker, who was born and raised in Argentina and came to the United States in 1959 to attend Williams College. He received 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.

Project by Cecil Baker & Partners

Cecil Baker + Partners helped design the Bridgette Mayer Gallery, located at 709 Walnut Street on Philadelphia’s Washington Square. Bridgette Mayer wanted to expand her gallery 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 so guests can enjoy the artworks without being distracted by the architecture of the space. 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.

DAS Architects

1628 John F Kennedy Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19103

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 diverse range of clients. DAS’s resume includes renovations to Jekyll Island Club (a historic resort originally created by J.P. Morgan), the Tidewater Inn, Inn at the Beach Club, Hyatt Centric Hotel, the Granary, the Beacon and the Harper in Philadelphia, and Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in Manhattan. DAS designs are regularly featured in popular design 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 30 years of experience in the industry and worked on over 150 signature hospitality projects. Davidson is an award-winning designer responsible for the oversight of all interior design at the firm. 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.

Project by INTECH Construction

DAS Architects is the firm responsible for a new hotel located at 219 S 17th Street called the Hyatt Centric Philadelphia. Part of Hyatt’s Centric brand of hotels, the space is specifically designed for business and leisure travelers. It is among the brand’s top hotels across bustling metropolises such as New York, Paris, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami. DAS Architects designed The Hyatt Centric in Philadelphia to compliment the neighborhood by adding a balanced modern edge to the surrounding historic community. The 13-story luxury hotel houses more than o 332 guest rooms along with 40 executive suites. The ground floor features high-end retailers and restaurants, while the second floor holds the lobby and a second restaurant. The building is completely modern, with eco-conscious and sustainable materials used throughout to target LEED Gold.


211 N 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

In 2002, Architect Alan Metcalfe started his eponymous firm alongside his former client, Aaron Goldblatt. 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 and has a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Tufts University. The firm’s work has been featured in a variety of publications that include 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. The firm has a long list of awards that includes 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; and the 2015 HGTV Fresh Faces of Design.

Project by Metcalfe

Philadelphia public access channel Philadelphia Community Access Media (PhillyCAM) hired Metcalfe to design its new 6,000-square-foot headquarters at 699 Ranstead Street. 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 redesigned the building’s 7th Street façade with bold exterior graphics, including a colorful digital billboard based on the organization’s brand identity. This renovation included new exterior signage and brightly colored sign bands. The project was awarded the 2016 City of Philadelphia Commerce Department and the Community Design Collaborative Storefront Challenge award for Best Overall Design.

SMP Architects

1600 Walnut St. 2nd Flr., Philadelphia, PA 19103

Before becoming SMP Architects, the firm has been known by many names. It was known as Susan Maxman & Partners, Susan Maxman Architects, Maxman / Sutphin, and finally became SMP Architects in 2007. The firm offers 30 years of experience working in a variety of architectural fields. 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.

Project by SMP Architects

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 wanted to create a cohesive visitor experience. The project, completed in 2013, renovated 17,400 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 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.

Stokes Architecture

2103 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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. It has 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 the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the Philadelphia Preservation Alliance, and the AIA. Prior to founding his firm, Stokes worked at Venturi Scott Brown and at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Now, Stokes Architecture has been awarded the Preservation Alliance Grand Jury Award and the Washington DC Historic Preservation Award. It has also been featured in Hospitality Design, Smithsonian Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Philadelphia Magazine, Surface Magazine, OnTap Magazine, and Zagat.

Project by Stokes Architecture

City Fitness, at 1428 Frankford Avenue, was the firm’s first experience in 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 has floor-to-ceiling glass outer walls that give 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. Past the check-in desk, a new glass ceiling bridges the gap between buildings and gives natural sunlight to a tree. The rear of the building is the main fitness floor and has an airy wood truss ceiling. A mezzanine was added so that the El Train will be more accessible to the Front Street side of the building.

Studio Agoos Lovera

1 S Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

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. Today, the firm is led by Principal Jim Row, who has designed huge projects found throughout Philadelphia’s commercial landscape. The firm has been awarded numerous achievements, including the 2014 and 2013 Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s Grand Jury Award and the 2013 PA Brownfields Conference Extreme Makeover Award. Franke holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Temple University. Rowe, AIA, 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 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.

Project by Studio Agoos Lovera

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. It also 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 and has 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 took inspiration from 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.


1700 Market St. Ste. #2800, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Founded in 1963 by David Wallace, Ian McHarg, Bill Roberts, and Tom Todd, WRT is the home of planners, urban designers, architects, and landscape architects with a focus on commercial development projects. The firm has 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. His work on the Blue Ball Dairy Barn is a historic and adaptive reuse project that garnered both a Gold LEED rating and the highest honor award from AIA Philadelphia. He has also served on the Board of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council. Cramer has over two decades of experience in landscape architecture, architecture, and engineering. She has an 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.

Project by WRT

The goal of the improvement plan for Philadelphia’s City Hall Courtyard was to reclaim space that can be used to hold programs and events, and also reflect the history of the site as the center of William Penn’s plan for the city. Another public works project is The City Hall Courtyard at 1401 John F Kennedy Boulevard. It served as 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 as the first waterworks of the city, WRT surrounded it with a circular path and public garden. 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.


  • Shahe Demirdjian

    Shahe is an Editor at Philadelphia Architects with around four years of experience as a writer and editor in the construction space. Shahe has always had a huge interest in commercial/residential construction and real estate. On top of his experience at Philadelphia Architects, he has two years of experience as a Construction Partner Specialist at BuildZoom and six years of experience as a licensed real estate agent. In his work, he takes advantage of his expertise to take complex technical jargon from those realms and transform them into accessible, engaging content, blending his business administration expertise with a degree from Arizona State University with his experiential insights. Expertise: Architecture, Home Design and Build, Home Remodeling Key Highlights: Arizona Real Estate - Licensed Salesperson Education: Arizona State University - Bachelors in Business Administration

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