There’s so much more to Philadelphia than cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. Philly has a booming foodie culture growing, and all those chefs need restaurants to put them in. Luckily, Philadelphia has a long list of architects and designers in the city who know how to help. Creating the perfect restaurant environment is crucial to the culinary experience, and you want the best of the best to help bring those places to life. So check out the Top 10 restaurant architects in Philadelphia, who are being recognized by professionals in the industry for their cutting-edge work.
Assimilation Design Lab
224 S Melville St, Philadelphia, PA 19139
Founded in 2012, Assimilation Design Lab, LLC (ADL) is a young, dynamic architecture firm that strives to assimilate theory-based design solutions with programmatic needs specific to each project and client. ADL is led by Principal David Whipple, AIA. Before starting his own firm, Whipple worked at Brett Webber Architects, Michael Ryan Architects, Bloomfield and Associates, and Stokes Architecture. The firm offers services in pre-design, design, construction, and sustainable design. The firm has won numerous awards, including a 2016 AIA Philadelphia’s Philadelphia Emerging Architect Prize, the 2014 AIA PA Honor Award, the 2014 AIA Philadelphia Merit Award, and a 2014 Remodel Magazine Award. It was also a 2014 James Beard Design Award Finalist.
For the Tria Taproom located at 2005 Walnut Street, Whipple used the building’s historic fabric of exposed bricks and windows to create a unique feel. The Pennsylvania architects used blackened steel and white Carrera marble at the bar. The bar in Rittenhouse Square is unique because Tria Taproom takes the word “taproom” literally; there’s not a bottle in the building. Nearly two dozen draft beers, a dozen draft wines, four draft cocktails, two draft ciders, and a draft kombucha make up the beverage list. Tria Taproom was named Philadelphia magazine’s “Best of Philly” Beer Bar in 2014 and consistently earns a spot on Draft Magazine’s “America’s 100 Best Beer Bars.”
1315 Walnut St. Ste. #1614, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Located in the Center City neighborhood, Boxwood Architects is a full-service architecture studio offering interior design, graphics, and project management. The firm has been featured in the AIA Philadelphia Emerging Architectures Exhibition, and it has been published in Miami New Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Business Journal, Eater Philly, and Eater DC. The firm is led by John Weckerly, RA, and Sal Guerrero, RA. Mr. Weckerly is a graduate of Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture and has over 20 years years of experience working in the profession. He is registered in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington DC, Delaware, Florida, and Missouri. His partner, Sal Guerrero, RA, has 13 years’ experience in the profession and is also a graduate of Temple University Tyler School of Art and Architecture.
Boxwood was the architect of record for Dizengoff, located at 1625 Sansom Street, for the client CookNSolo in 2014. Found in the Center City neighborhood, Dizengoff is a casual Israeli Hummusiya (or hummus restaurant) that can accommodate 25 customers. It is modeled after hummus spots found in Israel, but with the unique style of a vintage 1970s-era roller skate rink. The artwork at the restaurant is designed by local artist Tennyson Tippy. Another major restaurant project that Boxwood worked on is the Italian wine bar and oyster bar Tredici Enoteca. Designed for client Greg Dodge at Zavino Hospitality in 2016, Tredici Enoteca was built as a sister restaurant to the famous restaurant Zavino. Boxwood helped give the Italian restaurant a modern vibe and visual aesthetic. Tredici Enoteca’s decor includes unique gray velvet curtains, a gleaming marble bar, herringbone wood floors, and unique shelving that holds an esoteric mixture of pottery, canned food, and artwork.
1628 John F Kennedy Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Design experts Susan M. Davidson and David A. Schultz partnered in 1990 to establish DAS Architects. The design firm offers a full range of architectural and interior design services for commercial clients who are mostly in the hospitality sector. Before establishing DAS Architects, Davidson and Schultz were acclaimed by hospitality professionals for their stunning body of work. Schultz is one of the country’s top hospitality architects who has finished more than 150 projects while Davidson’s interior design works have been featured in several publications. The founders’ great reputation helped make the firm into one of the top design firms in the country. Prestigious names in the industry have approached the firm for its sophisticated design services. Some of its biggest clients include Beach Club, Hyatt Centric Hotel, Hotel Metro, the Granary, the Beacon in Philadelphia, and Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in Manhattan. It is also an award-winning firm that has received the 2017 Grand Jury Award from the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia and the 2017 General Building Contractors Association Contractor’s Choice Award.
DAS Architects were the Architect of Record for Union Trust Steakhouse at 717 Chestnut Street. The high-end restaurant opened in 2009; it can accommodate 440 diners in a converted classical bank space. DAS reinvigorated the building, which is an embodiment of rich Philadelphia history that once served as the Union Trust Company Bank, built in 1888. Just a block from Independence Hall, DAS Architects took advantage of Its soaring, vaulted ceilings and built an expansive balcony. DAS worked to bring to life the grand-arched windows that overlook the Historic District of Philadelphia and integrated soaring 65-foot illuminated engraved ceilings, architecturally accented walls, multiple private rooms, and a breathtaking wraparound mezzanine overlooking the whole site.
1639 N Hancock Street #302, Philadelphia, PA 19122
Located in Olde Kensington, Groundswell Design Group is a full-service design firm specializing in hospitality, public parks, land art installations, restaurants, and pop-up shops. A graduate of Florida International University’s Department of Architecture, Principal David Fierabend, is responsible for the aesthetics and creation of Spruce Street Harbor Park and PHS beer garden. Named Best of Philly’s Best Landscape Designer, Groundswell has designed stunning restaurants found in various states like New York, Colorado, and Missouri.
Groundswell transformed what was a nondescript garden alongside the Dow Building’s 6th Street frontage into a lively gathering place for Philadelphia restaurateur Michael Schulson. The space was transformed into the Independence Beer Garden at 100 S Independence Mall West, the restaurant features heavy steel girders amidst shady trees, delicate flowers, and lush shrubbery, setting the atmosphere for this American-style beer garden. Diners can relax in custom Adirondack chairs amid fire pits and table tennis in the distinct atmosphere of American summer. Another stunning project is the La Peg at 40 N Christopher Columbus Boulevard. Groundswell worked closely with the client to create a space that complements the building’s unique heritage and on-site performance venue. Rich dark materials accenting the character of the old firehouse pumping station’s interior give way to bright, leafy counterparts in the outdoor beer garden with an excellent view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
Harman Deutsch Architecture
631 N 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123
Based In the Poplar neighborhood, Harman Deutsch Ohler (HDO) Architecture was founded in 1999 by Brett Harman and Craig Deutsch. HDO has a team of skilled professionals who offer construction administration, code consultation, site development, interior renovations, and new construction for mixed-use buildings, restaurants, hotels, retail space, office buildings, multi-family housing, and private residences. The firm’s designs are found across Philadelphia, including locations in Liberty Square, Chestnut Street, the Manayunk neighborhood, Delmar Street, the Spring Arts neighborhood, and Catherine Street. HDO’s work has also been featured in Philly Voice, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Curbed Philly.
Led by Chef Jeremy Noel, Brauhaus Schmitz is one of the most authentic German beerhalls and restaurants in the United States. Located at 718 South Street in Philadelphia, the beer hall has changed how the city looks at German food. Philadelphia Magazine has honored Brauhaus Schmitz with three “Best of” titles in their annual “Best of Philly” issues and noted the important design work that Harman Deutsch Architecture did to help bring the restaurant to life. HDA’s work included a complete renovation of an existing building’s 8,300 square feet into the 100-seat, authentic German restaurant, with two new residential units above. The German bierhalle is features traditional Bavarian decor. HD designed an overarching roof that welcomes guests into the wooden and brick homey design within. Hops and barley plants sit on top of wooden shelves, and antique lights cast an old-fashioned sensibility on the customers inside.
100 E Penn Square #1080, Philadelphia, PA 19107
JKRP Architects is the namesake firm of Jerry K. Roller, one of the state’s most revered architects. When the firm was established in 1984 as a sole proprietorship, it quickly became known for its high profile hospitality and multi-family projects. Throughout the years, Roller has made impressive contributions to the state. He was the president of the local American Institute of Architects (AIA) and is an active board member of the Building Industry Association (BIA). Now, Roller leads JKRP along with nine other principals who are all professional architects accredited by the AIA. Besides its seasoned leadership, the firm has won several Grand Jury Awards from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.
JKPR was the architect of record for The Capital Grille at 1338-46 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. The project resulted in a formal restaurant that can seat 230 diners. The Capital Grille features custom mahogany millwork, dramatic coffered ceilings, custom chandeliers, and a state-of-the-art open kitchen. The restaurant offers steak, seafood, and drinks in an old-school gentleman’s club vibe. To keep up with demand, JKRP was brought back to design and produce three additional private dining rooms. These additional private rooms, located along the Broad Street exposure, were added a year later and increased the square footage by 1,000 square-feet. This renovation added 60 seats, cementing the Capital Grille as part of the “Avenue of the Arts’” culinary renaissance.
Metcalfe Architecture and Design
211 N 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Combining art and design has been the vision of Metcalfe Architecture & Design for the past 18 years. Like any other architectural firm, Metcalfe Architecture & Design offers design services for residential, commercial, and institutional sectors, but it sets itself apart from the competition by creating immersive exhibit design that can be enjoyed by the public. When Alan Metcalfe started the firm he wanted to design structures that will socially engage people which is why he asked former client Aaron Goldblatt to join the team. Goldblatt has arranged learning spaces for many known museums like the National Museum of Industrial History and the Museum of the American Revolution. Together, Goldblatt and Metcalfe have designed projects that are not only stunning but have improved the quality of their customer’s lives.
Metcalfe Architects designed the Little Treehouse Play Cafe, located at 10 W Gravers Lane in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood. The firm designed the renovation of this 6,000-square-foot café and children’s play center to provide a safe, creative, and actively engaging experience for children, while still providing a relaxing, cozy, and sophisticated environment for the adults who are coming with them. The play area is divided into age-appropriate zones and features custom-made installations created from natural materials and designed to promote learning through play. The Best of Philly Awards celebrated the brand new Little Treehouse Play Cafe with a Best Kids’ Party Venue distinction. In addition, Metcalfe also created the Treehouse’s graphic identity program, including logo, website, printed material, and advertising.
Morrissey Design and M Architects
4590 Main St., Philadelphia, PA 19127
Specializing in hospitality design, Morrissey Design and M Architects is a boutique firm that focuses its services on elevating the brand and aesthetic appeal of commercial clients. When the firm was established in 2010 it only had a design department that specializes in interior design for restaurants in Philadelphia and New York. As years passed, its clientele grew and it led to the growth of M Architects in 2016. M Architects has designed some of the newest restaurants in Philadelphia. These one-of-a-kind projects are often featured by Philly Inquirer, the state’s local newspaper.
B2 Sushi Restaurant is a sophisticated concept restaurant from owner and head chef of the acclaimed Blue Fin Restaurant. The owners hired M Architects to design a space from scratch and the firm surely delivered. M Architects wanted its interiors to reflect the concept of the restaurant—sophisticated and modern. The firm used a natural color palette to give a tranquil feel but contrasted it with soft leather and warm wood tones for a more modern edge. The restaurant’s menu is complemented by an assortment of cocktails that go perfectly with any meal. This is why a private sake tasting room is essential to this unique restaurant. A metal screen wall separates the bar from the dining room and it’s adorned with floating sake bottles. The dining area’s main focal point is the giant Buddha found sitting behind the sushi line.
453 Johnson Street #100, Jenkintown, PA 19046
LEED-accredited architect Joshua Otto has been providing sustainable design to the Jenkintown community through his firm, OTTO Architects. The firm provides architecture, interior design, sustainable design, product and furniture design, for both public and private clientele. OTTO Architects is known for being detail-oriented. The majority of its customers come from the food industry. The firm’s restaurant creations have caught the attention of many design organizations. It has won several awards like the 2016 Storefront Challenge for Best Design, 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. The firm was also a finalist for the 2016 Restaurant Design Awards.
OTTO Architects helped bring Girard Brasserie restaurant into reality. A finalist for the 2016 Restaurant Design Awards, the 40-seat restaurant features an open kitchen, a chef’s counter for five, and a small grab-and-go market. It offers contemporary French cuisine to Philadelphia’s rapidly developing Fishtown neighborhood. OTTO designed the interior with a bold color palette. The brass and distressed mirror add specular highlights reminiscent of a classic Parisian bistro. Elements of unique camouflage cover folded overhead planes and create a graphically bold yet spatially ambiguous ceiling. It evokes a mind-warping motif of zebra stripes, created from an actual technique to disguise battleships in World War II. The use of bright yellow walls helps make the French restaurant look larger than it actually is.
8 Penn Ctr. 1628 JFK Blvd. Ste #1810, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Running a family-owned business has always been a goal of Robert J. Sargenti Jr. But when he established Sargenti Architects in 1997 he wanted it to be beneficial for himself and the other businesses. The goal of Sargenti Architects is to create a firm that will eliminate middlemen and make the flow of design smoother. More than 20 years later, Sargenti has cultivated a healthy company culture that has expanded to offices found in five different states and a satellite branch in London. The Philadelphia branch was started in 2013 and has serviced some of the leading retail brands in the state. Sargenti Architects has designed the Philadelphia branches for international brands Muji, Fossil Group, and Lindt Chocolate.
Fast-casual restaurant Sweetgreen gives farm-fresh produce to the public through its healthy salad bowls. Staying true to the restaurant’s humble brand, Sargenti Architects wanted to design a space that does not compromise the original structure of the site. The firm has designed many national branches for the restaurant and each project has a fun contemporary feel. There are always elements of reclaimed brick and barn board to give a more rustic finish. Each location has a unique layout that is inspired by the original facade. It also considers the wait time and seating arrangements of every restaurant because every project has different dimensions.
2103 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
For the past 20 years, Stokes Architecture has built a diverse portfolio of hospitality projects that range from large-scale hospitality design to small-scale interior fit-outs. Founder Richard Stokes started his eponymous firm to expand his horizons while designing smart solutions that have a modern aesthetic. The firm has collaborated with many known artists, engineers, and specialty consultants in Philadelphia that has helped the firm broaden its expertise. The firm’s most relevant distinction is receiving the Preservation Alliance Grand Jury Award and the Washington DC Historic Preservation Award. In addition, the firm’s restaurant and hospitality projects have been featured in Hospitality Design, Smithsonian Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Philadelphia Magazine, Surface Magazine, OnTap Magazine, and Zagat’s.
When working with chef and owner Jason Cichonski, Stokes Architecture wanted to make Ela an elegant yet accessible atmosphere. Located in Queen Village, Ela is a 75-seat bar and restaurant whose interior lends itself to the hip sensibility Cichonski brings to his food. Stokes Architecture created an interior scheme based on two parameters: a small budget and a few nonspecific reference images provided by the client. The result is a warm yet industrial interior, spotted with quirky design elements that create an intimate and unique dining experience. Another collaboration with a renowned chef is the new Fette Sau Restaurant at 1208 Frankford Avenue. The second branch for the popular BBQ Restaurant is the first project the firm has done with Brooklyn Chef and Restaurateur Joe Carroll.
While the original Brooklyn location was confined to a small, former auto garage, Stokes Architecture had a much larger site to work within Philadelphia. Designed to look like a large animal barn, Fette Sau features salvaged wood rafters surrounding communal picnic tables. The restaurant also displays large custom paintings of illustrated butcher meat charts, explaining the various cuts and grades of the meat the customers are eating.
Studio Agoos Lovera
1 S Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Delivering quality architecture to a diverse client base has been the mission of Studio Agoos Lovera since 1983. Its leadership might have changed throughout the years but upholding the best quality architecture has never waned. James Rowe now leads the firm and he is one of the most active architects in the Philadelphia industry. Currently, he is the director and president-elect of the Philadelphia AIA. Studio Agoos Lovera became an award-winning firm under his leadership. Some of the achievements it has received are the 2014 and 2013 Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s Grand Jury Award and the 2013 PA Brownfields Conference.
Studio Agoos Lovera designed Di Bruno Brothers at 1730 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Di Bruno Brothers has been a purveyor and importer of gourmet food since 1939. Studio Agoos Lovera designed an 18,000-square foot world-class gourmet food store, located in the Rittenhouse Square area of Philadelphia. The firm combined two existing buildings to create the space for Di Bruno Brothers. The store and restaurant now include an exciting and welcoming 8,000-square-foot gourmet selection with a central open riser stair, rotisserie, cafe bar, and cheese cave, among other delights on the ground floor. The second floor is accessed through the central stair leading to a demonstration kitchen, the cafe, and “paninoteca,” served by a state-of-the-art kitchen. The firm also worked on the restaurant Tequila at 1602 Locust Street in Rittenhouse Square. The 150-seat Mexican restaurant offers a festive Día de Los Muertos aesthetic. Designed for proprietor David Suro, who also owns the Siembra Azul distillery, Tequila features large portraits. One of the portraits is inspired by the work of José Guadalupe Posada that includes a family of “Calavera” skeletons, and another pays homage to the work of Diego Rivera. Agoos Lovera also included custom New Orleans-style wrought iron-gates that encompass the restaurant.