Next Step in Condo Design: Flexibility


The 22-story One Riverside in Philadelphia is a modern residential property not just because of its design and high-tech amenities but also because it caters to its residents' unusual needs. Buyers could create their dream home by combining several units to accommodate their lifestyles.

One of Philadelphia’s newest condominium projects features natural elements designed to welcome the suburbanite-turned-urbanite. Designed by Cecil Baker + Partners, One Riverside aims for a seamless integration within the Schuylkill waterfront. “The building’s architecture springs from the uniqueness of this riverside site and seeks to integrate with the surrounding parkland,” said Cecil Baker, principal at Cecil Baker + Partners.


It’s been more than a year since the official completion of the high-rise, designed by Cecil Baker + Partners and located on the shore of Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River. The design team focused on providing generous green spaces coming to life through a mindful design approach, on the far edge of a historic neighborhood—Fitler Square—mainly comprising low-rise brick homes.

“Preserving views for the neighbors while respecting the natural beauty of the parkland and river that surround the site were our largest challenges. We overcame this by designing a 22-story sleek and slender tower that effortlessly fits the footprint. We built a boutique building that has a small footprint of 9,000 square feet at the base, which preserved open space surrounding the building,” explained Carl Dranoff, founder & president of Dranoff Properties, the property’s developer.

Carl Dranoff, founder & president, Dranoff Properties

In order to preserve the views and the park experience, the project called for a parking garage submerged below sea level, with a half-acre park built on top of it. The facade is made mainly of glass to maximize inside views and reflect the sky and river. More than half of the buyers at One Riverside are relocating from the suburbs. Though attracted by the urban lifestyle, they are not quite ready to give up all aspects of their former homes.

“It was important to provide plenty of open space and a lush outdoor environment. The project includes a large, landscaped garden and lawn for residents; a ground-level terrace with an outdoor kitchen, grill and fire pit overlooking a rain garden; and a sundeck off the indoor lap pool,” said Baker.

Intelligent design, smart amenities

The design and development teams listened carefully to what buyers were looking for, opposing the common misconception that all condominiums have preset design formulas. “Our buyers wanted their new home to be a unique reflection of their lifestyle and family. We delivered, with 18 floorplan choices and the option to combine units for even larger residences and wraparound views. We started with 82 units and ended up with 68—a 25 percent reduction based on buyers combining units,” Dranoff noted.

“For example, one of the units has a dark room for the owner’s photography purposes. And other units have received alternative layouts to match owners’ lifestyles,” Baker added.

Cecil Baker, principal, Cecil Baker + Partners

The residences include two penthouses—a single-level and a bi-level—and are available in one- to five-bedroom floorplans, with 10-foot ceilings and banks of windows with extraordinary views. The layouts are open and spacious, and most have private terraces. Incorporated technology is intended to ease the lives of residents and pave the way for improvements. The intelligent-access system allows residents to move throughout the building using just one key, whether they want to access their home, the swimming pool, the fitness center or even the elevator. “Residents can set up access to their units with any staff, such as housekeepers, with intelligent keys that allow access to those locks only during the hours for which that particular key has been programmed,” Baker said.

The smart-key system also collects data that can be used to improve the resident experience. “What’s nice about this technology is we can run analytics to learn more about how the amenity spaces are used and with what frequency. We also have building link technology that alerts residents (on their cell phones) of deliveries and any building news or updates,” Dranoff added.

You’ll find more on this topic in the CPE-MHN Mid-Year Update 2018.

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