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The Old City Exchange

Semester long collaborative design studio where research and study were done on the site and program was individually selected based on the group’s views of what was needed in the area. I was responsible for all 2D plan, elevation, section, and site drawings and constructing the 3D model in Revit and creating renderings of building and interior spaces. I also contributed to the physical site analysis models as well as the model of the entire building structure. Programs used were AutoCAD, Revit, Rhino, and Adobe Photoshop.

Partners: Amy Cann & Laura Ovsak 


Old City is one of Philadelphia’s many unique neighborhoods with an obvious boutique quality and an artistic community. Through analysis, the project site presented both social and physical problems. Given the mature culture of the area, there is a considerable disparity in the ages of residents because the neighborhood is not conducive to family growth. The Ben Franklin Bridge just North of the project site and I-95 to the East are examples of extreme infrastructure that affect the overall character of the neighborhood and ultimately cause a disconnect. They impose on the neighborhood because they ‘created’ several area vacancies due to their construction and shear size. When both of these problematic conditions exist, the result is a spatial pocketing phenomenon where the social realm is affected by the physical realm. 




Site Plan
Outside Site Forces: Infrastructure
Program reaching out to the city and overlapping to create a hub
Spatial Pocketing

In order to unify the community through meaningful interaction, the idea of a public recycling center was introduced. The Old City Exchange encourages the community, specifically children, to participate in the recycling process and to learn about why recycling is crucial to the future of our environment. Just as there is a disconnect present on the project site, there is a similar divide between those recycling and the process of recycling. Usually hidden from the public eye in large industrial facilities, the process is rarely showcased even though it is a positive procedure. Exhibit spaces highlight the history, properties/functions, and re-use options of the most commonly recycled materials: paper, aluminum, glass, and plastic. Each exhibit space is an active sorting area for the material that it is focusing on. Since the primary goal of this facility is to promote meaningful interaction, it will not be processing as much recycling as private centers, but it will work in conjunction with such existing centers for support. 



Concept Diagram
Recycling Material Path

Towers VS Nucleus:  


As defined, a nucleus is the central, most important part of an object, movement, or group, forming the basis for its activity and growth. Located in the center of the building, the Nucleus contains the entire plastic process from start to finish as well as an area for interactive production. 


Its industrial character is evident in the circular trussed structure that is suspended between two programmatically supportive towers. 


The towers house the sorting process and related exhibits as well as administrative areas, a store that sells re-usable materials, and a workshop for local artists to build with these materials. 


From a circulation standpoint, the towers provide access to the main destination: the Nucleus. 



Since The Old City Exchange has a highly industrial program that would require a great deal of energy to maintain, alternative forms of energy were explored. Through an analysis of the facility’s needs and the specific resources available to the project site, all energy will be harvested from the vehicular traffic on the Ben Franklin Bridge. Piezoelectric generators are embedded in the road beneath each traffic lane and collect excess mechanical energy from passing vehicles through pressure and friction. The bridge is an ideal site for such an innovative technology because it is heavily traveled at all hours of the day and is in close proximity to the project site. Energy that is collected through this process can be used immediately and can even be connected back into the grid for use by the community giving purpose to the imposing infrastructure. 



Piezoelectric Generators Diagram


View of the entrace plaza with overlook to the recycling process on the right and playground in the rear.

Perspective of a typical floor of the sorting tower showing the interaction children would have in the process.


Interior of the nucleus with children's craft area.
View of the cafe in the rear of the site.
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