The Chestnut at University City,
Philadelphia, PA

Tower in the Garden

The Chestnut at University City is a 30-story mixed-use residential project on the 1.36-acre site of the old Newman Center building adjacent to The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of business.  The development integrates 420 luxury apartments with amenity spaces, a sky deck pool, ground floor retail and below grade parking.  Vibrant retail spaces front Chestnut and Sansom Streets, and garden courts frame the building within a stately block book-ended by churches and gardens. The development is designed as a “tower-in-the-garden”, with indoor-outdoor spaces providing an elegant setting for gracious urban living at the heart of University City.

The building is a cast in place two-way flat plate floor slab concrete shear wall building. Typical residential floor height is 9’-9”; floors 27 through 29 have unit heights of 10’-9” and a pool with roof top amenity level is location on the south end of the 29th floor. Public and amenity areas at the Ground and 2nd floor have floor to floor heights of 15’-0” and 13’-0” respectively.

The Parking / Foundation level incorporates a below-grade stormwater management system below the parking ramp, loading dock and south end Ground floor retail coordinated around drilled pier foundations. The parking level slab is typically a 5” slab on grade, however, the northwest portion of this level which is lower than the parking level slab in the area of the electrical room incorporates an 18” thick pressure raft / mat slab to resist uplift loads for this portion of the slab located below the water table.

The Ground floor level extends to the property line on the west, north and the majority of the east sides and serves as the roof over below grade parking and the electrical rooms and also supports landscaped areas at this level outside of the tower footprint. Area outside the tower footprint at this level was designed for superimposed loads of up to 575 PSF to accommodate larger trees and landscaping elements with soil depths up to 42”. Design of the slab also permitted support of the material / personnel hoist, material storage and AASHTO HS20-44 truck loading in these areas during construction.

Between the Ground level and the 3rd floor level, there is a two-story space north of the elevator core separating the 2nd floor level residential units from the amenity spaces. The two areas are connected by a cast in place concrete bridge with glass handrails. The bridge can be accessed by way of a monumental stair that is cantilevered from the concrete shear wall on the north side of the elevator core. At the 2nd floor amenity area there is a steel framed balcony on the east side and egress corridor on the west side covered by a steel framed roof. These areas, termed the “overhangs”, are clad on the vertical surfaces with a composite honeycomb stone cladding which consists of a thin finished stone bonded to a honeycomb structured aluminum backup panel.

The façade system for the tower is primarily a slab supported window wall system, however, hand laid brick on cold formed steel backup and curtain wall are used. The west side shear wall of the core is exposed painted concrete and uses epoxy coated reinforcing for durability.

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Structural Systems Used

Cast in Place Two-Way Flat Plate Floor Slab Concrete Shear Wall