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Wharton student -- and founder of four companies by age 21 -- reflects

The New York Times spoke with Daniel Fine, a serial entrepreneur and Wharton student who's staying in school.

Daniel Fine is the founder and chief executive of Glass-U, a two-year-old, 10-employee maker of foldable sunglasses bearing the licensed brands of universities, music festivals like Lollapalooza, and the World Cup soccer tournament last summer. He arranges for the manufacture of the glasses in China and their distribution around the country. He’s also a senior in college.

Mr. Fine financed Glass-U, which operates out of off-campus housing, in part with proceeds from a tutoring company, NexTutors, that he started right after high school. He has also founded Fine Prints, a custom apparel company he started during high school, and Dosed, a health care technology company that is working on a smartphone app to help diabetics...

Q. You considered applying for a Thiel Fellowship, a $100,000 grant to forgo college and pursue your dream?
A. I made it through the second round, but I didn’t complete my application. At Penn, I’ve absolutely learned in the classroom, but it’s been a much greater benefit being here and growing as a person and learning who I am, what I’m becoming and what I’m hoping to be.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Gorgeous Wyncote rain garden becomes a teachable moment

Mary E. Myers, a landscape architect and associate professor at Temple University, created a lush rain garden in suburban Philadelphia. Folks in the neighborhood have taken notice. 

"I wanted to increase biodiversity, but I wanted it to be aesthetically appealing, so that people would accept it and want to do it," said Ms. Myers, 62, standing by the sweep of blue mistflowers rolling down to the sidewalk. "People walk by and say, 'What’s that? It’s beautiful.'"

She often gives them some seeds or self-seeded native plants. And when someone from down the street longs for those blue mistflowers, she says, "Don’t worry, the wind will bring them to you."

With the shapes, colors and textures of more than 50 native species here — the elegant branching of the young black gum tree, the dogwood and shadbush turning deep red, the handsome seed heads of hibiscus, the fig-like fruits of the bottlebrush buckeye — this dynamic landscape is nothing like the scruffy patches of weeds too often referred to as rain gardens.

As Ms. Myers said, "It looks intentional and maintained..."

She counted 23 species when they moved in, 16 of them nonnative. Now the count is up to 127, most of them native.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Want a 'Lord of the Rings'-style map of Philadelphia?

PA resident Stentor Danielson creates super-cool maps of major American cities -- including Philadelphia -- in the style of fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien.

In addition to his de riguer Etsy store, a seeming must for endeavors of this nature, Danielson also maintains a densely-illustrated Tumblr called Mapsburgh, where he showcases his own work as well as that of other fantasy-minded artists and creators of odd, impractical things. There, brave travelers will get some brief, telling glimpses into the mapmaker’s creative process, which seems to exist at the nexus of fandom and fetishism. A specifically-cited source of inspiration for Danielson, for instance, is this map of Middle Earth from the Ballatine paperback edition of Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings.

A faculty member at Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock University, Danielson works with pen and ink and, on occasion, cut paper to create his otherworldly "cartographic art" of quite-worldly places like Boston and Washington, D.C. The artist, who describes his work as "delicate" (read: alarmingly fragile), also takes requests.


Original source: The A.V. Club
Read the complete story here; and click here for Danielson's Etsy store.

The reinvention of Conshohocken

The New York Times takes a look at Conshohocken, a steel town turned office hub -- and millennial magnet.

The recent increase in development plans reflects the geographical advantages of Conshohocken, which is near the intersection of Interstates 76 and 476, its accessibility to central Philadelphia by commuter rail and the availability of its land, in contrast to some nearby western suburbs where land for development is scarce.

With its location at the intersection of interstates, Conshohocken could become the region’s new “Main and Main,” said Jeffrey E. Mack, executive managing director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, an international real estate firm that provides brokerage and other services.

He argued that the town was poised to take the title from an area at Route 1 and City Line Avenues on Philadelphia’s western outskirts, which has been heavily built. That location, in Lower Merion Township, “ran out of land,” he said.

The prospect of a big addition in local office space also reflects a desire by companies to attract educated employees in their mid-20s to mid-30s who are expected to seek jobs in industries such as technology, finance or health care but who do not want a traditional suburban lifestyle.

“Those folks want to live in new urban-type environments where the amenities and the urban setting and the transit orientation are also important,” said Steve Spaeder, senior vice president for development at Equus Capital Partners, developer of the 400 West Elm project. “Conshohocken has all of those elements.”



Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Could 'America's Best Restroom' be right in our backyard?

Longwood Gardens is a finalist in Cinta's 'America's Best Restroom' contest -- vote now!

The public restrooms at Longwood Gardens, the most visited public garden in America, deserve a double-take as you walk by. That’s because the 17 restrooms themselves are part of the largest indoor "Green Wall" in North America!

The staff at Longwood worked with artist Kim Wilkie on an unprecedented feat of bathroom architecture. Take a look at the photos, and you’ll understand. Aside from the restrooms’ lush greenery, they also feature domed, naturally lit lavatory cabinets hidden within the "Green Wall." In addition, each restroom contains etched translucent glass at the top of the dome to provide natural light, reduce electricity and minimize the need for light fixtures.

Longwood Gardens traces its roots to the famed du Pont family and has become preeminent for its grand collection of plant life. Now, its restrooms also share in the spotlight.

"The restrooms at Longwood have become a ‘must-see’ for our one million annual visitors, and we even have docents nearby to share the story of their creation," says Patricia Evans, communications manager at Longwood Gardens. "To be named America’s Best Restroom would be a testament to our creativity and environmental stewardship."


Via Curbed Philly; check out their coverage of this amazing bathroom.

Original source: Cinta
 

Check out the jaw-dropping Penn's Landing feasibility study

Last week, we wrote about the ambitious new plans fomenting for Penn's Landing and the rest of the Delaware Waterfront. Now, check out the awesome, inspiring feasibility study complete with renderings.

Original source: Delaware River Waterfront; HT PlanPhilly
Check out the whole document here.

Curbed Philly seeks new editor

The real estate-centric site Curbed Philly is hiring a new editor.

We're looking for a real estate obsessive to keep Philly apprised of all the good neighborhood news and development gossip on a daily basis. While you don't need to be a real estate expert, it helps to be completely fixated on architecture, city planning, and all the only-in-Philly weirdness that makes this place so great. Think you're up to the task?

Click through for more details.

Original source: Curbed Philly


 

Philadelphia hosts world's largest game of Tetris

A Drexel professor and his students hacked the lighting system of the 29-story Cira Center, allowing them to play Tetris on the building's facade.

 Check out the video here.

Original source: The New York Times

Local 'Project Runway' winner Dom Streater shows at New York Fashion Week

Project Runway winner (and Philly resident) Dom Streater exhibited a colorful collection at New York Fashion Week -- her first show since her victory.

The luminous, naturally lit whitewashed studio was precisely scattered with models donning Streater’s blooming bright pieces. It was a particularly cold windy day in the Big Apple, but these garments seemed to be projecting their own sort of sunshine. In the months between earning her fashion fame and displaying her newest collection, 25-year-old Dom has managed to quit her waitressing job at Silk City Diner – that supported her fashion ventures – and settle into a place of her own; a studio apartment on Pine Street in Center City...

The foundation of Streater’s clothing was unapologetically girly. The palette offered shades of red, pink, black and gray that were arranged in custom floral-inspired patterns, both on their own or placed with a solid color. These custom patterns, a skill that crowned her Runway queen, are what made her collection a standout.


Here's a preview of the collection.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story and check out the pictures here.

Philly designers want to manufacture locally, but challenges abound

The Philadelphia Inquirer dives into familiar territory -- local designers (like Sarah Van Aken) want to manufacture locally, but the roadblocks are manifold.

The city may tout its creative community and the growing retail scene - it even hosts a version of fashion week in September - but retaining that talent is a challenge, now reaching critical mass, when Philadelphia lacks skilled sewers, cutters, and patternmakers. "Everyone knows the quality is just not here," said Karen Randal, director of the office of business attraction and retention in Philadelphia's Commerce Department. "[It's] not what you expect to find at a good retailer."

Olubodun, like many young apparel designers, wants one day to present Philadelphia-made collections during New York Fashion Week, now underway at Lincoln Center through Thursday.

But current conditions - too few workers and manufacturing facilities that accommodate smaller orders - means they're stuck either sewing their own wares or spending money for larger runs they don't need. Either option makes it difficult to fill accounts with larger retailers - the road to brand recognition. Forget about affording a New York runway presentation.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.


New York Times takes note of new Comcast tower

The big Comcast tower news got Philadelphia some national press, including in the New York Times.

The influx of young technology employees to a building designed by a prestigious international architect is likely to encourage boosters of a city that has long harbored an inferiority complex because it lacks either the financial power of New York or the political clout of Washington.

“This new development really speaks to a more favorable outlook for the city,” said [Michael Silverman, managing director in the Philadelphia office of Integra Realty Resources].

The $1.2 billion building will create 20,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction, adding $2.75 billion to the local economy, according to Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, who announced the project, along with Comcast officials, on Jan. 15.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Announcement of new Comcast tower has city abuzz

A new skyscraper will rise above Philadelphia thanks to Comcast. The city was abuzz with chatter about the new addition, including Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron.

Until now, America's most glamorous tech companies have largely been housed in suburban oases, velvet prisons that offer employees endless supplies of vitamin water and protein bars, but require lengthy commutes in company caravans from San Francisco to the cluttered highway strips of Silicon Valley. There's plenty of interaction inside the bubble, but hardly any with the wider world.

With its new 1,121-foot-tall loft building, designed by Britain's Norman Foster, Comcast fashions a rebuttal to all that. Think of the towering waterfall of glass that was unveiled Wednesday as a skyscraper version of the great, light-filled factory lofts of the early 20th century, but wedged into the unpredictable heart of Center City atop the region's densest transit hub. In the six years since Comcast embedded itself in one of the city's more straight-laced corporate towers, it has done a complete 180: Its second high-rise should be a glorious vertical atelier where employees can make a mess while they invent and build stuff.


Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Huge Mount Sinai plan revealed at public meeting

Developers have let the public in on their plans for the massive, abandoned Mount Sinai campus in Pennsport. 

Jeff DiRomaldo, Project Manager and Architect for Barton Partners out of Norristown, provided some background on the "urban repair project" and went over the early plans and designs. The key theme he wanted to stress -- filling the "voids" in the street scape that plague the area. The hope is to construct the town homes as a border around the property that "re-integrate those edges" of the site back in to the neighborhood.

As usual, parking was a major concern for neighbors:

The plan calls for the site to contain 137 spaces, all but five will be within the interior of the development and that number includes the garages in the town homes. However, as Developer Gagar Lakhmna explained, the existing curb cuts will be reduced from ten to nine in the process as a different curb cut at 5th and Dickinson will be necessary to accommodate a front-loading garage for those units due to space. Basically, the fewer curb cuts means more street parking. He also mentioned that they drew up plans for an interior parking deck but it would have only given them about 10 more spaces. They will look to have "80 bike spaces and two car share spots" as well. 

Original source: Pennsporter
Read the complete story here.

Transit-oriented development Paseo Verde dedicated in North Philly

Paseo Verde, an exciting community-supported project in North Philadelphia, was recently completed. It is hopefully a standard-bearer in transit-oriented development.

Paseo Verde, a super green, mixed-use, mixed income community hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning. The complex is the country's very first Platinum LEED certified Neighborhood Development, a distinction that it earned by creating an eco-friendly, transit focused project with the goal of "providing a healthy living environment for residents through sustainable practices, as well as cost savings through effective reduction in energy use."

Even Paseo Verde's most expensive apartments wouldn't fall into the luxury price range, but it does seem that they'll be offering quite a few luxury amenities: residents will get access to a fitness center, community rooms, a technology center, gardening plots, and green roofs.

Original source: Curbed Philly
Read the complete story here.

PlanPhilly mulls ambitious project at 30th Street Railyards

The 30th Street rail yards could be ready for a big change.

Bounded by the Schuylkill on the east, JFK Boulevard on the south, 32nd Street to the west and Spring Garden Street to the north, the rail yards are the most significant piece of real estate in the city. The parcel sits astride the booming high-tech education-and-medicine hub of University City and the ready-to-pop potential energy of West Market Street. Falling more than 80 feet in elevation from Powelton Village to the river, the site accommodates Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, the Penn Coach Yards (a service yard for the railroad) and SEPTA's Regional Rail tracks.

This dusty, noisy, obstructed remnant of the industrial age is poised to be reimagined. Amtrak, along with Drexel University, Brandywine Realty Trust and other partners, will receive bids Monday from professional teams vying to prepare a master plan for the rail yards and environs. They are to be applauded for tackling this project.


Original source: PlanPhilly
Read the complete story here.

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