ReNew Bold Massing Concepts and Exterior Spiral Stairs


We haven’t talked much about the ReNew Bold project since our original post on the topic. This is not because work hasn’t been proceeding on the project. It is simply that we are aware of the long road ahead and want to save some of our discussion for a time closer to actual groundbreaking. That said, we will still have the occasional design move or progress update that we would like feedback on, and we will post them here as they come up.

Today’s post is intended to give you a look at the three dimensional shape of the project. As you may recall, ReNew Bold consists of 16 row homes and 1 mixed use building containing two flats and a ground-floor, commercial space. The row homes are a mix of two and three story buildings and offer a private parking space and roof deck.

First, here is a look at the site plan for the project. As you can see, it is simply two rows of structure with a parking area in the middle. The mixed use space is the wider building on the corner of 16th and Moore.

Now ler’s see how that translates into three dimensions . . .

You can see that there is a slight overhang where the second floor extends out over the parking area below. This overhang also forms a balcony that can be reached from the third floor. On this balcony we are proposing a spiral stair to reach the generous roof deck area. On the two story buildings, the roof is accessed through a more traditional stair and bulkhead.

The spiral stair offers a couple benefits by eliminating the extra structure typically built for roof deck access (as seen on the two story models). This makes air sealing and insulation easier. It also prevents the blocking of anyone’s view on the third story roof decks, and that view is going to be sweet.

So, what do you think of the overall concept? More importantly, for now, what are your thoughts on the exterior spiral stair?

Tell us in the comments.


  1. Gabriel Deck says:

    From an energy efficiency standpoint, I agree that the spiral stairs are going allow for easier detailing when it comes to insulating and sealing the building. It also provides a small outdoor space from the second floor. However, depending on the how the divisions between the roof decks are going to be designed, a pilot house may have been a nice “privacy buffer” element between neighboring roof decks. Regardless, as a nearby neighbor to this project as well as a LEED AP, I am very excited to see this all happen.

  2. herb lau says:

    The urbanist in me would prefer that the ground space in between currently used as driveways, green space, and lanes to/from Moore St. is smaller, allowing for more built indoor space above it, even so much as to consider building upper floors over a large open parking area below, and green space on the roofs, either green roofs, or just simple gardens.

    The real estate pragmatist in me thinks the zoning, current owner sentiment towards as close to fee-simple ownership as possible, etc. would prefer the current design you have. Plus, people want ground level green space, methinks.

    I do like the spiral staircase.

  3. Metal exterior spriral stairs scare me when I think about freezing rain or snow melting and refreezing.

    I think if the treads are made of expanded metal, they’ll be safe almost all the time (“diamond plate” doesn’t cut it). Code minimums allows pretty small steps at a steep pitch, so consider going a bit bigger and less steep. Two handrails also help, even though the inside rail can look a bit weird.

  4. Dan Pohlig says:

    Spiral staircase may make it a little tough to bring food and drink up there for entertaining.

  5. Ian Watson says:

    I love spiral staircases. They definitely suck for anyone who is not 100% physically mobile though. And to solve the food/drink carrying issue I decree that pulleys to lift trays of things should be installed. That would be badass.

  6. Chad Ludeman says:

    Really digging the pulley idea to the roof. We’ll have to do some research on that…

  7. Dave says:

    There are a lot of outdoor dumb waiter products out there. It would be cool to find a powered one so your drinks would be waiting for you when you reach the top.

  8. Typically in a South Philly, you would run into a scattered site condition, but from what I can see from Google Maps, the site is ripe for this type of development. From a planning standpoint, I think you made some very simple, but smart moves. First, you use a zero lot line in order to get the highest unit yield on the site. Next, you have addressed a large issue in South Philly (Parking) with adding 1 space per apartment and giving it private access from the back. I would be careful about the overhang though, as it could trip you into semi-enclosed garage parking and force you to fire rate the overhang and the back wall higher than normal.

    It sounds like your excited for these spiral staircases, but they look too premature to be in a massing model of this little detail. Reducing the roof hatch penetration and potential air sealing issues that come with it is a nice gesture, but I would focus on massaging the majority of the building before jumping into the minutia. I immediately focus on the stairs and it ends up raising more questions than answers.

    1. How are you going to divide the roof decks in order to allow for privacy and possibly fire separation from each other?
    2. If the roof decks are going to play a prominent role in the massing, it looks like you are going to need a railing that envelops the entire perimeter of the block.
    3. Spiral stairs aren’t very accessible. I’m guessing these will be private, for sale residences, but it still brings up the issue.
    4. Does the flat roof of the third floor sheet directly onto the balcony on the second? This may be an issue, regardless if you use a spiral stair or not, but water mitigation could be an issue.
  9. Chad Ludeman says:

    Hi Jeffrey. Excellent comment and questions. Let me see if I can address them:

    1. The roof decks will have parapet walls that raise up and act as double duty as the facades and the “railings”. They will be about 3.5′ tall and continue in between each unit at the party wall line to create privacy while not obstructing city views.
    2. See #1 above.
    3. The stairs are not accessible, but neither would an internal stair to a fourth story. While it may not be ideal, it allows us to offer a lot of features in one of our homes at a low price point.
    4. The 3rd floor roof will be piped directly to the ground and not flow to the 2nd story balcony. This is a requirement from the water department in our Stormwater plan.

    Unfortunately we have to nail down the massing early on in the design phase to pass zoning and keep moving towards building permits. While it may be premature, it is required at this point. We have not decided on a specific stair or how the facades will interact with them yet. We have a bit of leeway still.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment and please keep them coming in the future. Also, nice site!

  10. james c says:

    What is the timeline suppose to be on this? I’m looking to buy in the next year and would love to see how these will be priced!

  11. Have you decided what to use for the roof/deck flooring? TPO? EPDM?

  12. Chad Ludeman says:

    Not sure. Typically we do TPO, but we may be switching to EPDM to save a bit as it doesn’t much matter under the green roof (EPDM does not have energy star as far as I know).

  13. Chad Ludeman says:

    More news on that soon. We are working with everyone to firm up a timeline now…

  14. Nick says:

    Please keep us informed on any news. I’m very excited about this project and would like to know the timeline and price points as well!

  15. […] real estate market include a large mixed use development at Point Breeze ave. and Titan st. and the Renewbold development at 16th and Moore streets, featuring 16 townhomes, 2 condos and a corner storefront. In addition to […]

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