The Curtis Atrium

Keystone Property Group | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Curtis Building by architect Edgar Seeler takes cues from the Beaux-Arts style, displaying a red brick facade with details and ornamentation made of white Vermont marble. Constructed in 191 as The Curtis Publishing Company headquarters, it is now a mixed-use high-rise. Despite its storied design, an oddly-proportioned atrium space and 1980’s modifications presented challenges when the owner sought to introduce more light and functionality.

Considered to be progressive at the time of its construction, the original design sought to enhance all areas with access to natural light, ventilation, and views to the outside. Light and air were brought into the core of the building by way of an open-air central courtyard, which was also used as a carriage (and, later, vehicular) entrance for shipping and receiving. To meet the owner’s desired changes, however, VMA needed a plan that would respond to the 1980’s conversion of this outdoor space into indoor space with a skylight, 20-foot-tall artificial palm trees, a terraced Italian marble fountain.

VMA designed the phased improvements beginning with re-introduction of classical order with Corinthian columns and a proportional entablature wrapping the perimeter. Next were installed four armatures, each befitted with a “C,” at the apex spanning 57 feet on a north/south axis. In addition, we added LED lighting, acoustical treatments, and a dual monumental marble staircase flanking the fountain. Once a loading dock, the re-designed atrium space now evokes both the history and dignity of a past era. Moreover, each project increased the historic grandeur of the interior with alterations that respect the regality of the exterior, crucially imperative for one of the city’s most prominent buildings, sitting as it does near Independence Hall to the east and Washington Square to the south.


  • "Reinventing the Curtis for Millennials (and Some Boomers Too)" by Dees Stribling. Bisnow Philadelphia, 21 January 2015.
  • "Curtis Center Will Be a ‘Central Hub’ for Washington Square" by Lauren Mennen. The Philadelphia Inquirer, 12 January 2015.
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Size: 20,360 sf
Budget: $2.4 million


Architecture, Interior Design

The Curtis Atrium

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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