Complex Mixed Use Development Gains Attention at Philadelphia’s New Rodin Square

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Covering almost three acres and sitting on nearly a full square block, the Rodin Square development, a complex 520,000 square foot mixed use project, combines high-end residential apartments and amenities with health-oriented retail in a grand glass and brick fronted building to be located in Philadelphia’s museum district.

The groundbreaking was held Wednesday, August 27 as representatives from Dalian Development, International Financial Company, the Philadelphia City Council, Whole Foods Market, MV+A Architects, The Harman Group and members of the community were present to celebrate the beginning of construction. Plans for the new complex feature 293 luxury apartments, 85,000 square feet of retail space including a Whole Foods Market, and 490 parking spaces.

“With one of the largest Whole Food Markets ever to be built, a CVS pharmacy, and Jefferson Hospital on site, this development aims at a healthy lifestyle while contributing high-end housing and retail amenities to Philadelphia’s historic Art Museum neighborhood,” says Jan Vacca, P.E., LEED AP, principal of The Harman Group, Inc., structural engineering and parking consulting firm on the project. “The challenge of placing high-end residential over a Whole Foods Market over parking, adjacent to medical offices and more parking, can only be complicated by unusually soft soil and a design with cost compartmentalized by specific use.”

The ten-story residential development, Dalian on Fairmount Apartments, includes a hotel-style lobby with a 20-foot-tall glass façade, and shared public spaces including a billiards room, internet café,  state-of-the-art fitness center and a yoga room. The residential amenities will also feature a 35,000-square-foot rooftop “Sky Park” with an infinity edge pool, an indoor/outdoor heated cabana, an outdoor kitchen with multiple grills, and a large green roof area.

The street-level retail development, Rodin Square, will be the new home of a 60,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market featuring a 5,000-square-foot café and a two-story dramatic glass façade. Other tenants will include CVS/Caremark and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

With such a large-scale development, each component of this multi-faceted project created unique challenges in design coordination. MV+A and Harman Group worked together to coordinate and design cost effective solutions to the multiple mixed use components, staying true to the overall guidelines of each component.

”Keeping the residential and retail components of the building in harmony, while designing for the unique considerations of each use, was one of our greatest project challenges,” says Jim Voelzke, AIA, principal of MV+A Architects.

The Harman Group also faced several structural challenges with regard to the stacking of each of the components. The issue of placing the residential piece over the Whole Foods required the construction of a waterproofed interstitial crawl space to guarantee watertight construction between the two uses. This was complicated by the placement of the Infinity pool on the occupied plaza over a high end retail space. Special construction raised the pool, allowing for the plumbing to occur above the waterproofing.

In addition, specialty floor finishes for the Whole Foods and residential elevations had special construction requirements for the finished floor elevations. The structural team had to address different materials, such as cambered hollow core plank for the residential and field cast concrete on deck for the Whole Foods in conjunction with the stringent levelness requirement and deflection restrictions.

The exterior finishes provided their own challenges for this mixed-use project. The combined high end façade for the Whole Foods and the residential components, which includes a floor-to-ceiling window wall system for the residential units along the exterior perimeter, enabled the cost to be carried over both elements. However, the utilitarian pre-cast garage had to remain cost effective relative to its use. Perforated metal panels of varying colors were used to add visual interest but stay within budget.

“This development is one of the last opportunities along Philadelphia’s iconic greenway to contribute to this vibrant area of the city. With the fantastic location, the design called for taking advantage of the street-level prominence on Pennsylvania Avenue and incredible city skyline views on the residential levels,” says Voelzke.

The Dalian on Fairmount is being developed by Dalian Development and will be managed by Bozzuto Management Company. The retail portion of the project, Rodin Square, is being developed by International Financial Company and managed by Rodin Commercial Management. The entire project was designed by MV+A Architects of Washington, DC. The Harman Group, of King of Prussia, PA, provided structural engineering and parking planning and design services for the development. Other consultants included Alderson Engineering, Inc., Bohler Engineering, Parker Rodriguez, Inc., and ADD Inc.

The contractor, Intech Construction, has begun work and is expected to complete construction in the summer of 2016. 

Rendering courtesy of MV+A Architects