Unusual Approach to Public Engagement Produces Exciting Results in Philadelphia

Rather than bringing a powerpoint presentation and ritzy renderings to a meeting with neighborhood residents, developer Omar Blaik brought blank sheets of paper. The result? A process devoid of the usual rancor and a denser design than zoning allows.

"Over three meetings this summer that were fueled by platters of falafel and bottles of beer, [Blaik's] company, U3 Ventures, and the Spruce Hill Community Association hashed out the kind of building that they thought suited both the neighborhood and the investors," writes Inga Saffron. "Then they proceeded to literally sketch the broad outlines of the design with help from Blaik's architect, Cecil Baker + Partners."

"The architecture of the building, which would face Clark Park on its 43d Street side, is still rough, but Blaik's collaborative process offers an intriguing model for Philadelphia's rapidly changing rowhouse neighborhoods - from South Kensington to South Philadelphia - that are seeing a surge in apartment projects."

Full Story: Changing Skyline: Including neighbors in planning process

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