Inga Saffron Reviews BCJ and TLP Project for The Inquirer

TLP would like to congratulate BCJ for the glowing review by Inquirer Architecture Critic, Inga Saffron, on their sophisticated glass building design for Midwood Investments at 15th and Walnut.  TLP is pleased to be teamed with BCJ for the lighting design of this iconic project.

Changing Skyline: New Cheesecake Factory at 15th and Walnut: A creamy-rich glass box

Inga Saffron, Inquirer Architecture Critic
Posted: Friday, March 8, 2013, 3:01 AM

What kind of building do you get when you cross the über-cool, urban minimalism of the Apple stores with the indulgent, diet-busting excess of the Cheesecake Factory restaurants?

Would you believe an architectural confection that is as visually sublime as it is intellectually rich?

I’ll admit that when I first heard that the popular suburban temple of caloric overload was touching down at 15th and Walnut Streets, the news didn’t exactly stoke my appetite for good design. I imagined a generic box, done up in flat, lifeless stucco the color of American cheese, elbowing its way onto a corner that has been occupied for the better part of a century by three ordinary, but charming, commercial buildings.
But the architecture gods have smiled on Philadelphia.

When the Cheesecake Factory takes up residence here late next year, it will be one of several tenants in a dynamic new building designed by a top-notch firm, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, which created Apple’s retail prototype and executes all its stores, including the one on Walnut Street. That BCJ’s building will house this particular dining chain is the least interesting thing about it.

Given the firm’s success with the famous – and now trademarked – Apple cube in Manhattan, some might be expecting a variation of that glass box here. But the architects, who work in BCJ’s Philadelphia office, have come up with something more gratifying: an original design that responds to its surroundings in a deeply informed way. Their sophisticated Philadelphia glass box promises to be one of the city’s finest new buildings.

It’s true that you can still see evidence of the Apple lineage in the three-story design, which received a green light last month from the zoning board. Like the New York cube, it is an all-glass, modernist building. But the similarities end there.

Because the New York cube is meant to appear as weightless as a lone soap bubble on its open plaza, it is supported by nearly invisible glass fins. In contrast, the Cheesecake building will be hemmed in by masonry heavyweights from the early 20th century. The designers, Frank Grauman and Andrew Moroz, knew their bantam of a building needed to convey a toughness and gravitas if it were to hold its own against such formidable neighbors.

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