Philadelphia is the fifth-largest city in the United States. With a population of nearly 1.6M people wedged into 142 square miles, it can get a little crowded. So when it comes to finding and designing a home, there’s a lot of demand. But there is also a lot of supply: Philadelphia is home to some of the best residential architects in the entire country and they’re working on unique and innovative projects across the city. Do you want someone who has experience and knowledge designing homes in the area, and someone who really knows Philadelphia? You got it. Here are the Top 10 residential architectural firms working in Philadelphia right now, ranked by their reputation, their years in the industry, and their stellar, award-winning work.
Bright Common Architecture
PO Box 3635, Philadelphia, PA 19125
The Philadelphia residential community has been seeking the comprehensive design services of Bright Common Architecture for the past ten years. The firm calls its residential services high concept design: the firm does extensive research for each project to provide the most sustainable solution for its clients. As Passive Housebuilders, Bright Common Architecture always makes sure that its designs consume less energy than other homes. Its state-of-the-art Passive House technology helps the firm to build homes with low carbon footprints. Principal Jeremy Avellino oversees every project that the firm handles and is involved from start to finish. Recently, Philadelphia Magazine did a profile on Avellino due to his innovative contributions to the city’s architectural community.
One of Bright Common’s standout Passive House projects is House 8. The project was given this name because it has eight levels, quite unusual for a single-family home. From the outside, the home looks cramped but the interior reveals a very open layout with 10-foot high ceilings. House 8 has many unique rooms, each connected by a vertical stair core. When guests enter, they can lounge in the chic main living room that is angled towards the backyard’s lush green garden. Another green feature of the home is its Energy Recovery Ventilator which cleans and reuses the fresh air from outside for the interiors. Perhaps the best part of the home is its roof deck level. Bright Common designed the roof deck to be west-facing so it can frame a perfect view for sunsets.
Atrium Design Group
1024 N 3rd St. Ste. 201, Philadelphia, PA 19123
Creating gathering places for the community through architecture is the mission of Atrium Design Group. It services residential clients and various commercial projects for retail businesses. Atrium Design Group also has an international reach because it has been commissioned by clients from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It has a very rigorous architectural process that includes conceptual design and 3D rendering. The firm also provides interior design and development services.
Found in 1822 Catherine Street is a red brick apartment that Atrium Design Group remodeled. The result is a chic residence with contemporary elements. The bohemian red brick exterior was retained in the interior. This burnt red palette also inspired the furnishing of the home. Hardwood oak floors were used and complemented by dark metal elements for a more industrial look. Large open windows were installed in the living area to maximize the natural light in the apartment.
Metcalfe Architecture & Design
211 N 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Many residential and commercial clients in Philadelphia come to Metcalfe Architecture and Design for quality architecture and graphic design services. When Alan Metcalfe started the firm in 2002, he wanted to design projects that will have a direct impact on its clients. That is why he sought the help of his former client, Aaron Goldblatt. Goldblatt designs spaces for known museums like Please Touch Museum, the Academy of Natural Sciences, and the Wagner Free Institute of Science. Together, they have led the firm to create innovative spaces that have been featured by Design Museum Magazine, CLAD Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The Huffington Post.
Metcalfe has designed stunning homes found in some of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Philadelphia. One of these includes “The Seidenberg House” in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. The firm reinvented this mid-century house by reorienting the house towards its rear yard and adding a glass connector bridge, linking a new bedroom nestled in the trees to the rest of the house. The renovations completed at the Seidenberg House convey the firm’s unique approach to play, design, and appreciation of tree-filled vistas. The project won the 2012 Pennsylvania Society of Registered Architects Design Award of Merit. Metcalfe also worked on The Cohen Residence, a 1925 stone Colonial in the Mt. Airy neighborhood. The home features custom-built shelves, cabinets, bureaus, and expanded closets in each room. Its open floor plan puts the focus on the back terrace and glass-encased entryway. The firm also inserted a new mudroom in the back of the home for the family’s use. Creative inspiration from the family’s art collection can be found in colorful vignettes and artistic finishes.
Krieger + Associates
14 West Highland Ave. Front, Philadelphia, PA 19118
Award-winning residential and commercial services have been the strength of Krieger + Associates since its inception in 1992. It has a diverse range of clients from the residential, institutional, and commercial sectors. Krieger + Associates is led by President and Principal Jeffrey F. Krieger, AIA, LEED AP. Krieger has over three decades of architectural practice and prior to founding the firm Krieger worked at Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates in Philadelphia. He is also a member of the Pennsylvania Society of Architects and the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA. The firm is most experienced in residential projects and its latest accolade was for its Chestnut Hill Renovation project which won the 2018 Chrysalis Award for basement remodeling.
Krieger + Associates has designed a number of unique homes in and around the Philadelphia area. The “Family Room With a View” in Chestnut Hill is a beautiful, remarkable example. This 1930’s house is an unusual blend of the Cotswold style, common to Northwest Philadelphia, and the avant-garde International style. Krieger + Associates renovated the living and sleeping spaces on the first and second floors, updating the bathrooms and lighting. Two additions were created on the street side of the house. One provides a new mudroom and rear entrance, while the second adds a large breakfast room and family room, large skylights, and a fieldstone floor. White cabinets and cherry and slate countertops harmonize with the exposed interior stone walls. Another project in Chestnut Hill was the “Right-Sized Modern.” This modest-sized stone and brick twin house had a dated interior and suffered serious neglect. Krieger + Associates restored it with all new finishes and systems. A second-floor window bay had to be completely rebuilt due to damage discovered when replacing the roof. The firm took out walls on the first floor for a bright and modern open plan; the living room now flows into the dining and kitchen area.
100 E Penn Sq. #1080, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Found in the heart of Center City, JKRP Architects was founded by ten very experienced architects who want to create a firm that designs contemporary spaces for communities. When JKRP takes on a project, it will go to the extra step of exploring the site and meeting the potential neighbors. It is important for JKPR that each project strengthens communities by tending to its needs. The full-service architectural firm has a variety of services that include sustainability strategies, interior design, construction documentation, and other post-construction services. Some of its award-winning works are renovations of residential projects including the Nugent Senior Apartments and the ICON|1616 Walnut Street, which both won a Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia Grand Jury Award.
JKRP has worked on a variety of custom homes across the Philadelphia area, one of which is a single-family private residence at a penthouse apartment in the famous Rittenhouse Square. Using custom millwork, the firm worked with its client to design new rooms for entertaining and private living spaces in the 7,500-square foot apartment. A 3,200-square-foot, separate, private balcony was designed with floor-to-ceiling windows to create a large conservatory and to offer a beautiful view of the city. Another standout custom home project is a single-family house in Center City. The 1,900-square-foot carriage home included two bedrooms and a living room. The original building was completely converted from an old office building into a beautiful new home. The living room featured double-height ceilings. A new one-car garage echoes the antique decor with a wooden garage door that matches the traditional carriage home façade.
2010 Wallace Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Wyant Architecture is a Philadelphia-based design-build firm led by Principals Jeffrey Wyant and Maria Keares Wyant. The firm’s work focuses on site-specific, custom residential architecture, including thoughtfully planned and detailed interior renovations, significant additions to existing structures, and sustainably designed new construction. Wyant, AIA, LEED AP, has over 25 years of professional experience managing a broad range of project types and is a member of the American Institute of Architects. While Keares Wyant, RA, LEED AP, manages design development and construction documentation for many of the firm’s projects. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University. She is NCARB certified and is a registered architect in the state of Pennsylvania. Wyant Architecture’s work has been featured in a new hardcover book Home Extended and there is a ten-page spread dedicated to a Farmhouse project of the firm. Wyant Architecture has also been featured in ae Spectacular Homes of Greater Philadelphia, AIA Philadelphia’s Quarterly Journal, Context Magazine, Philadelphia Style Magazine, and Garden House Magazine.
Wyant has been the architect of record for a long list of single-family homes and apartments in and around Philadelphia. The firm designed a one-family apartment at the Parc Rittenhouse at 227 South 18th Street in Philadelphia. One of the challenges was working with the existing parameters, including low ceilings and deeply embedded concrete structures. Unique coffered ceilings and soffits were introduced to alleviate the issue both physically and aesthetically. It also helped maximize the height, and to define space, while also facilitating infrastructure and utilities. Another one of its projects was the Center City residence in Philadelphia. The adaptive reuse project allowed the firm to convert a vacant community building into a single-family residence. The building’s original street-fronting exterior walls and façade were salvaged, reused, and reintegrated. The firm also designed new floor levels within the old building’s original frame, including an additional third story that matches the height and scale of the local skyline.
Archer & Buchanan
100 South Juniper St. Ste. #408, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Architects Daniel G. Russoniello and Michele Thackrah have worked in different sectors of the industry. Most of their designs are inspired by the works of famed architects like Walter Durham, R. Brognard Okie, and Wilson Eyre. In 1996, they decided to elevate their craft by establishing Archer & Buchanan. The eponymous firm is a full-service architectural firm that focuses on residential projects like new homes, additions, renovations, historic restorations, and country property planning. The firm is not limited to residential projects; it has designed for colleges and universities, libraries, and other institutional projects. Archer & Buchanan also has more than a few awards under its belt. Some of its most recent include the 2019 Coatesville Award Program Best of Coatesville in Historical Landmark, the 2018 WoodWorks Wood Award for Durable and Adaptable Wood Structures, and a 2016 Design Award from the Pennsylvania Society of American Registered Architects.
Archer & Buchanan works on a variety of custom homes. The Connors Residence, located in nearby Radnor, was a new home that replaced an earlier version inappropriate to its charming old Main Line neighborhood. The client’s desire was to blend their home more seamlessly with the surrounding homes built in the 1920s, predominantly in the English mode. Off the master bath is a walled court with a spa. Throughout, special attention was given to the use of traditional materials and details to achieve a feeling of permanence. Another project by the firm was “Canary Cottage” in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Another traditional farmhouse the firm designed was inspired by the style of R. Brognard Okie. Inside is a series of special spaces for living, with comfort and gathering as the key elements. The open plan provides a visual connection from the den to the kitchen and living room and is articulated by the scale of spaces and the warmth of materials and furnishings. Located on a beautiful, wooded site, the seasonal porch brings nature into this alluring country retreat.
Studio Agoos Lovera
1 S Broad St. Philadelphia, PA 19107
Established more than three decades ago, Studio Agoos Lovera was named after two of the most seasoned architects in Philadelphia. Founders Jorge Lovera and Ted Agoos have become pillars in the Pennsylvania architectural industry and when they retired James Rowe took over the leadership. The firm was entrusted to Rowe because he has an impressive work history that included being president of AIA Philadelphia in 2015 and director of the Center for Architecture. Under Rowe’s leadership, the firm has won awards for its restoration projects. The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia has given two Grand Jury Awards to Studio Agoos Lovera.
Studio Agoos Lovera has designed single-family homes, residences, and apartments in Philadelphia. One of these was a condominium at the Society Hill Towers at 285 St. James Place. The project involved combining two units on the complex’s 15th floor which hadn’t been modified since the tower was built in 1962. Part of the work involved the firm creating an expansive living room with 180-degree views of the city. Another feature was a new open kitchen that featured a custom-designed millwork integration. The firm also worked for a client to design a luxury penthouse apartment at Two Liberty Place in Philadelphia. The unit is one of Philadelphia’s most expensive residences and is on top of one of Philadelphia’s tallest mixed-use buildings. Its interiors include 6,000 square feet while an additional 2,040 square feet was dedicated for terrace space. The outdoor space became one of the largest residential balconies on the East Coast. Studio Agoos Lovera designed and created a modern, state-of-the-art residency with all the latest technology, including fully programmable concierge, lighting, and sound systems; imported Italian kitchen cabinetry; and electronically activated translucent glass partitions.
OMNIA Group Architects
323 S York Rd., Hatboro, PA 19040
Gene Grimaldi and Brian Mann started OMNIA Group Architects in 1993. They derived OMNIA from their children’s initials; it also means “everything.” True to its namesake, the firm specializes in designing high-end residential design solutions that will make home life more convenient. Using state of the art architectural tools, OMNIA Group Architects is able to render 3D modeling for its clients during the design process. One client even requested a 3D walk-through of a community built entirely by the firm. Besides residential projects, the firm also takes on commercial projects like retail and restaurants. The firm has won numerous awards. Most recently, Omnia Group Architects received the 2015 HBA Synergy Award for “Best Architectural House Plan” and “Best Custom Landscaping.”
The Omnia Group Architects designed a custom home in Lower Moreland. The firm worked with the client from the first concept through to final color selections. The commanding, yet elegantly balanced street presence of this Manor-style custom home gives way to a stunning, gleaming volume in the foyer, which holds a magnificent glass and wood circular staircase. Each of the main living areas opens out to a grand patio and then into views of the woods and creek beyond. Another home by Omnia is a custom riverside home in nearby New Hope. Perched above the beautiful Delaware River, Omnia created an open plan blended with traditional forms, punctuated by vast rows of glass windows and doors to bring in the panoramic views of Lambertville, the bridge, the wooded opposite bank, and the river. A sweeping front porch integrates the entry with the vibrant pedestrian streetscape. Low garden walls enclose a beautifully landscaped courtyard, defining private space without turning its back on the street. The second floor features a common loft area with a large balcony overlooking the water.
Blackney Hayes Architects
150 S. Independence Mall West Ste. #1200, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Interactive design and exceptional service are what sets Blackney Hayes Architects apart from its competition. It was established in 1988 by Kevin Blackney and John Fox Hayes who have both been in the industry for more than 30 years. Its team of 40 architects and interior designers deliver a variety of design-build projects for its diverse clients. From multi-family residences to hospitality projects, the firm has done it all. It has been recognized three times over the years with the highest honors by the AIA and Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.
Blackney Hayes Architects designed the Bryn Mawr Residency, a home designed to eliminate its dark 1980’s aesthetic. The use of materials and bright colors on the exterior accentuates individual areas and creates a much more linear outline. The interior rooms were designed to flow easily together, using bright colors, the strategic placement of abstract expressionist art on the walls, and large expanses of glass windows. The firm also created a new home out of a traditional carriage house in Philadelphia, designed as a retreat from the busy city and to entertain friends. The design team juxtaposed modern elements against the historic wood of the existing structure. Antique wood plank ceilings and beams were installed, and crown molding was used to generate the feel of the original, historic trim details. In contrast, stairs, lighting, and furniture were contemporary, as is the open-plan treatment of the main living space.
453 Johnson St. #100, Jenkintown, PA 19046
Joshua Otto established OTTO Architects to deliver a diverse range of styles to public and private clientele in Philadelphia. Before establishing the firm, Otto designed establishments in different states: he is also registered in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland. His experience allowed him to expand his knowledge of design theory; he wants his firm to translate these ideas. He wanted to contribute to the growing Philadelphia architectural scene which is why he co-founded the Philadelphia Emerging Architecture Prize. He was also the former chair of the AIA Philadelphia Design Committee. Under his management, OTTO Architects has won numerous awards, including the 2016 Storefront Challenge for Best Design, a finalist for the 2016 Restaurant Design Awards, a 2015 AIA National Emerging Professionals Exhibition, a 2014 James Beard Foundation Finalist for Outstanding Restaurant Design Award, a 2014 AIA Pennsylvania Emerging Professional Award, and a 2014 Remodeling Design Grand Award.
Otto Architects worked on a custom townhouse in Leithgow Street. The 900-square foot building lot posed some challenges in a tight city like Philadelphia. The firm used a design solution that provided light-filled interiors to the entire home. Each living space receives abundant natural light. Otto Architects included a walk-out basement that also creates a large, open living area. A two-story atrium allows natural light to reach each room in the house; three roof decks encourage flexible outdoor living. Glass interior partitions offer visual transparency for wide, open floor plans. Outside of Philadelphia, Otto Architects also worked on a family’s residence on Washington Lane in Meadowbrook. The firm retained the exterior of the home’s original stone Colonial home façade, yet created a modern addition to the rear. Fiber-cement panels and reclaimed wood matched the antique aesthetics. A new dining room, a double-height living space, and a family room were designed for the lower levels, while a fourth bedroom and master suite complete the second floor.
Cecil Baker & Partners
1107 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19107
Internationally-renowned Cecil Baker + Partners offers a long list of services that include feasibility studies, programming, design of new structures, adaptive reuse of existing structures, and interior design. Principal Cecil Baker is a revered figure in the Philadelphia architecture industry. Before establishing Cecil Baker + Partners, he was the co-founder of BRHB Developers. This real estate venture included 279 apartments and single-family residences for the city. Baker was also handpicked by the Mayor of Philadelphia to be on the board of the City Planning Commission’s Civic Design Review Committee. As the firm’s principal, he has received more than 50 local and national design awards. His firm continues to make contributions to the city by giving a new life to forgotten buildings and turning them into multi-family residences.
Cecil Baker + Partners has worked on high-end apartments in many of the famous buildings of the Philadelphia skyline. The firm’s works can be found in Rittenhouse Square, at Wanamaker House, and at Independence Place. For one project, the firm was tasked to design a penthouse pied-a-terre, single-family residency in Philadelphia. The goal was to create a modern and urban home that also functioned as an art gallery: the family wanted to display its collection of contemporary glass crafts. The design process involved converting three original penthouse units into one shared residency. The result was an 8,500-square-foot home with extensive terraces and sweeping views of Philadelphia. The firm and the clients collaborated with a number of local artists to incorporate their work into the architectural experience. Cecil Baker + Partners also designed two kitchens. The larger one included an open space for visitors, as the client was looking to offer opportunities to present the theatrical possibilities of food preparation. The firm also designed a secondary kitchen that allowed the client to display an extensive wine selection and a full bar.