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Unveiled> Philly's Commercial Corner
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson uses massing to bring identity to Philadelphia's newest commercial building, 15th and Walnut.
Courtesy Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

15th and Walnut
Architect: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Client: Midwood Development
Location: Philadelphia
Completion: 2014

The architectural firm behind Apple’s famous crystalline cube on Fifth Avenue has designed a dynamic glass retail structure in downtown Philadelphia at the intersection of 15th and Walnut streets. After studying various massing configurations that would allow tenants to customize their own identity without compromising the overall building appearance, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) devised a three-story structure with enough visual weight to hold its own among the masonry architecture of Center City.

“We evolved into a horizontal layering effect on the facade to give the appearance that the walls could slide,” said Andrew Moroz, associate at BCJ. Since solar heat gain is not an issue on the well-shaded, north-facing site, the architects were able to use ultra-clear low-iron glass. The material allows the steel structure to show through. Though it’s only three stories, with twenty-foot floor-to-floor heights the building reaches 65 feet tall. The structurally-glazed horizontal layers help to emphasize the building’s corner, where a second-story open terrace will be built for the unlikely anchor tenant of this sleek modern building: The Cheesecake Factory.


Philadelphia’s new stormwater regulations stipulate that the structure must retain 20 percent of the rainwater that hits its roof. The architects employed a mix of green and blue roof technologies that could later be partially occupied, depending on tenant fit-outs. Moroz said site demolition will begin this spring followed by a 14-month construction period.

Branden Klayko