A former parking lot becomes a parking-free wellness oasis in Philadelphia.

Affectionately known by locals as Fergie’s Tower, 1213 Walnut Street is a 26-story, Z-shaped, 300,000-square-foot, 322-unit for-rent luxury residential tower located in the Midtown Village neighborhood of Center City’s Washington Square West submarket. This ultra-modern apartment tower features more than 7,400 square feet of retail space on Walnut and Sansom Streets and a best-in-class amenity package with more than 11,000 square feet of resident community space, including a great room, outdoor terrace lounge overlooking Walnut Street, gaming area, entertainment kitchen, private conference area, and quiet room.

Other property features include a 3,000+-square-foot indoor/outdoor fitness center with an exercise studio and fitness and yoga terrace, rooftop deck, an elevated private dog park, and bicycle storage with a workshop.

The development  caters to a sophisticated urban resident. 1213 Walnut Street is LEED Silver certified, and incorporates sustainable features including: the use of green building materials; energy-efficient lighting and plumbing fixtures; state-of-the-art building systems; a green roof; and best management practices.

Developed in partnership between The Goldenberg Group, Hines Interests LP, and ASB Capital Management, 1213 Walnut Street was developed on a site that had previously been a parking lot and urban infill site. When Hines engaged on the project the site plan had been approved and the massing parameters had been finalized. The owners also restored the site and removed contaminated soil through an excavation process.

The developers wanted to establish a top-of-the-market residential rental in Philadelphia by bringing a unique residential experience to the ultra-local urban market customers that would be drawn to this bustling and culturally active location.

Hines has held sustainability at the heart of the firm since mechanical engineer Gerald D. Hines founded the company in 1957. Hines is recognized for its pioneering approach to building efficiency and the role that sustainability can play in building and strengthening communities.

A sense of place and context was a priority for the owners. Project architect, Design Collective impressed the developer team by addressing the neighborhood context and thinking outside of the typical glass-box tower. Design Collective incorporated precast concrete wall panels and perforated metal panel accents while providing a design that retains floor-to ceiling glass in most apartments to bring more light and air to residents than is typically available in the area. While Design Collective is based in Baltimore, the architecture firm’s commitment to contextual design has helped them to build a strong rapport and track record with the Philadelphia community on this and several other recent projects.

Design Collective’s design approach created a woonerf, a narrow, curbless street that serves pedestrians and vehicles equally, that extends through the site and connects both streets. They then placed the primary lobby entrance and porte cochere mid-block, creating a welcoming hotel-style entrance that eases the transition from the residence to the busy streets. The space also allows ride-hailing and delivery vehicles to serve residents without tying up the primary street network. With amentities and features intended to appeal to a hyper-local resident that lives life within one mile of the property, the compact apartment units offer a maximum amenity per square foot.

Planned to be held and operated for the long-term, the developers committed to quality finishes, thoughtful details, and a superior resident experience. And the energy and water savings that come from the sustainability approach will be passed directly to the residents.

Paladino was engaged early in the project to help the project achieve LEED Silver certification at 1213 Walnut Street. Paladino was chosen because of a combination of attributes, including successful past projects with Hines and Design Collective, high-touch service and responsiveness, and Paladino’s unrivaled working history with the USGBC and LEED program development.

Paladino fully managed the sustainability effort at 1213 Walnut Street, working closely with Design Collective and the developers to address energy, water, human wellness, and other sustainability factors. In addition to using LEED as a back-check on the developers’ sustainability values, the certification also guaranteed a FAR bonus, adding to the total potential square footage of the project. It was critical that the sustainability strategies support the high-quality, amenity-rich resident experience. Working with Paladino ensured that the sustainability strategy was harmonious with the overall design.

Because of the site shape and massing requirements at 1213 Walnut Street, the building’s orientation was determined early in design and could not be exploited for energy performance. Therefore, Paladino and Design Collective needed to find other ways to achieve superior energy performance and qualify for LEED Silver. For example, the project team used building energy modeling to balance the amount of precast and glass façade to achieve the desired design without sacrificing energy performance. Notably, expanding the windowwall system around the majority of the envelope was best for the construction schedule and materials budget. So the design team utilized the energy model to select a variety of different glass types to respond to different solar exposures on each side of the building. Ultimately, the added glass met the building performance requirements, reduced construction costs, and increased the natural light and views within the apartment units. This was an example of a case where the most sustainable solution was also the best solution for the residents and owners.

Wellness was on the team’s mind as they created pet-friendly spaces, and prioritized alternative transportation including walking and cycling. Wellness was also showcased by purposing the new roof areas adjacent to the existing pub into fresh-air terraces to be used for fitness and enjoyment. There are 4 separate outdoor amenity terraces totaling almost 3,000 SF on various levels of the building. It’s unique to have access to so much outdoor space in a downtown high rise apartment building.

The project team also emphasized alternative transportation including foot traffic and bicycle transport. Among this project’s stand-out features is that it is a parking-free property. Philadelphia has abundant parking structures throughout the area, and rather than adding to the parking stock, the team proposed that the development partner with nearby parking structures to satisfy any tenant parking needs. Further, market research demonstrated that the demand for bike storage was not adequately met in the market, so the team made sure that the bike storage was abundant.

In addition to applying capital resources to amenities and features that would most benefit the residents, the parking-free high-rise encourages use of mass transit, and reduced construction costs. “In these downtown environments, reducing or eliminating parking has benefits,” said AL Hedin, project director for Hines, “And as self-driving cars and ride sharing start to prevail, car ownership will continue to decline. This may be the first project without parking, but it won’t be the last.”

The project features that contributed to the LEED Silver certification for 1213 Walnut Street include:

  • Site selection in a dense transit-oriented urban environment
  • Brownfield redevelopment
  • Offering abundant open space
  • Significant bike storage
  • Parking-free site design
  • Enhanced daylighting
  • Material selection to reduce heat island effect
  • Local and sustainable landscaping
  • Stormwater management including on-site cistern resulting in zero potable water use for landscaping
  • Low flow/flush plumbing fixtures
  • Enhanced refrigerant management
  • Construction recycliing and waste management
  • Low VOC material selection
  • Designed for thermal comfort

Results

This sustainable new construction project was able to integrate with an existing community with minimal disruption, enhancing the experience of the neighborhood as a whole. It was built around an existing pub, which was able to operate throughout the entire development project.

The process to achieve LEED had additional benefits. Thanks to the LEED commissioning requirements, the project team was able to better understand the building’s overall HVAC performance. And the energy performance required to achieve LEED qualified the project for significant incentives through the local utility’s Smart Ideas program, which offset the investments in LEED certification.

  • Parking has been a non-issue. At 50% lease up, only 19 parking spaces had been requested by tenants.
  • Achieved 16% energy cost savings using ASHRAE 90.1-2007 as a baseline
  • Achieved a 32% reduction in water use for indoor fixtures