Center City Townhouse

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Our clients purchased this 8,000 sf townhouse near Philadelphia’s historic Rittenhouse Square so they could be closer to their beloved Philadelphia Orchestra. Built in the mid-19th century, altered after a fire, the house had fallen into significant disrepair by the late 20th century. Yet, our clients were committed to restore a sense of grandeur and establish a gracious yet comfortable venue for their art collection and lifestyle.

When VMA was brought into this project, we inherited a space that had been carved up by a doctor into both a home and a series of exam rooms and offices. Nothing about the transformation would be provisional, as the plan would involve both painstaking extensive interior and exterior work. In the end, it was achieved, but only after a multi-phase endeavor  that took eleven years to complete.

The first floor was conceived as two 1,000-sf formal entertaining rooms, a parlor, a library, and a catering kitchen. The kitchen, butler’s pantry, dining room, and two more entertaining rooms (one dedicated to music, one functioning as a sitting room) fill out the second floor. The upper floors contain the bedrooms and offices. Our team collaborated with Eve Ashcraft on the interior design. The style of the house includes direct reconstruction of the historic interiors but diverges substantially in some rooms, where the owners had particular stylistic touches in mind: specifically, English 18th century.

The design and construction of the garage and garden were part of the first phase, which involved collaboration with landscape architect Victoria Steiger.  The gardens, including a garden installed on the new garage roof, were designed primarily to be enjoyed from within the house or walking to and from the garage. Densely planted, they include a water lily pond, fountain wall, and connecting loggia. Special attention was given to the paving patterns to enhance the walking experience and to the selection of their plants for their blooms.


Traditional Building, Palladio Award - Exterior Spaces, Gardens & Landscapes, 2005


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Architecture, Interior Design, Historical Preservation, Landscape

Center City Townhouse

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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