When Rubenstein Partners purchased the historic Wanamaker Building in 2016, most Philadelphians were unaware that above the beloved department store lies about one million square feet of fully-leased office space. The client, a commercial developer, wished to re-brand the building by creating a more defined office lobby while also brightening and updating the interior with innovative but timeless materials and state-of-the-art equipment, such as a 324 square-foot LED video wall that activates both the interior and exterior spaces.

The design team worked closely with the client and building management team to optimize operationality and end-user experience. By flanking the newly-paired escalators adjacent to a central security desk, visitors and tenants alike enjoy well defined circulation and more space to interact. As with most renovation projects, there were challenges in dealing with buried site conditions as well as designing the form and selecting the materials that would be impactful but also sympathetic to the remaining classical context. The dark green granite and aged bronze details from the 1980s renovation were covered or replaced with thin large-format porcelain tiles, classic white marbles, walnut accents and brushed stainless steel.

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