Aloft Philadelphia Downtown,
Philadelphia, PA

Millennial Masterpiece

The Aloft Philadelphia Downtown is a 21-story, 181,000 sf adaptive-reuse project which occupies the historic Liberty Title and Trust building. First serving as a bank headquarters, then operating as an office for the Philadelphia Water Department, this nearly 90-year-old building remained vacant for over 20 years prior to the start of renovations to transform the building into a 179-room hotel with street level retail and event spaces. The new hotel features 3,984 sf of street-level retail, event spaces, and the WXYZ bar which is open to the public. There is also an outdoor space on the second level of the new addition known as “The Backyard.”

While undergoing design for the renovations, The Harman Group ran into a few challenges, one major issue being the lack of existing architectural or structural drawings. For this large historic building, the engineering team had to make assumptions regarding the existing structural system based on structural systems used in Philadelphia around the time the building was constructed. The client provided only limited access and exposure to interior spaces prior to the issue of bid documents. For the restoration and renovation portion of the project, new infill framing and openings in the existing building consisted of composite slab on metal deck on wide flange beams which were incorporated into the existing structural system. Through selective demolition, The Harman Group confirmed the inclusion of riveted built-up steel columns, wide flange steel beams, and cinder concrete slabs.

 The project also features a three-story steel frame addition with composite slab on metal deck floors connecting the hotel to the Philadelphia Convention Center, allowing guests to walk to the convention center without leaving the building. This addition presented a challenge in connecting the framing into the existing building for lateral support, as well as working within tight constraints due to the limited space and construction directly adjacent to the existing convention center.

Trying to attract millennials, the design team was able to mix the historic details with modern amenities and sweeping Center City views. These details are especially appreciated in the lobby, where 30-foot-tall original windows, a plaster crown-molded ceiling, and marble flooring with mosaic tile greet arriving guests.

 

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Structural Systems Used

Structural Steel Frame
Composite Slab on Metal Deck