To celebrate National Historic Preservation Month, Philadelphia’s Preservation Alliance asked 31 historic preservation leaders to describe a building that inspires them. Ballinger’s Director of Historic Preservation, Fon S. Wang, AIA, LEED AP, wrote about her enduring affection for the Fleisher Art Memorial.
Technical.ly Philly writer Nicole Forrester profiled Linode’s headquarters, located in Old City Philadelphia. Ballinger completed the award-winning adaptive reuse project in 2018.
Excerpted from Technical.ly Philly:
In the heart of Old City, walking into Linode’s headquarters inspires a “Wow.” With soaring ceilings, marble floors, and a modern LED chandelier to pull it all together, it’s clear the cloud hosting company aimed to make a statement.
Linode is a unique player in the tech scene. The cloud hosting company has emerged as a popular alternative to AWS, competing not from Silicon Valley, but right here in Philly. Its key differentiator: a highly trained in-house support team, where customers can talk to a real person 24/7. It’s one of the few companies in the world that invests in support in this manner, and customers love it for it — to the tune of over $100 million in yearly revenue.
Such an impressive stat might inspire a design aesthetic of mahogany and leather, but for Linode, the aim was to create a space that reflected the ethos of the open source technology it’s built from. Restoring the old Corn Exchange Building was a costly and time consuming undertaking, but CEO Chris Aker felt like it was the right way to move into Philly, as he told Technical.ly in 2018.
“So much of what we do as a company is intangible,” he said. “It’s bits flying through wires. It’s electrons. It’s magnetic fields on spinning rust, or in our case, on SSDs. This is something tangible.”
Open floor plans allow employees to rotate their desks easily as project teams shift. Glass walls and doors promote transparency and let the light fill up the whole space. On the flip side, there’s a functioning library with a real sliding ladder on the third floor, and the bank vault in the basement is now a meeting room. This blend of old and new is the core of Linode’s style.
The building has and is surrounded by a rich history. For Linode’s employees, that means eating lunch next door in the Betsy Ross House courtyard, or walking past where Ben Franklin is buried on the way to work.
“The American Revolution and the [advancement] of democracy has connection to the mission Chris built this company on,” said Michelle Berg, people operations generalist, referring to the democratization of the internet and cloud services’ contribution to that. “That is a really inspiring part of the environment here.”
There’s also more recent history. Formerly Linode HQ was the “Real World MTV” house, and just this past summer while filming for “Queer Eye,” Karamo Brown visited the office.
Berg’s first week at the company was during the move to the new HQ. She said employees were so excited about the new building, many showed up before it was ready, bringing their own chairs or perching wherever they felt comfortable. The new office wasn’t just an upgrade in space, but a shift to being a Philly company. Located right on N3rd Street, rebranded by the city in 2014, it’s the most evident symbol of the growing tech community.
As such, Linode HQ hosts numerous community events throughout the year. From meetups to weekend workshops to beer gardens in the parking lot, there’s a tremendous amount of energy within the Philly tech community that flows through events sponsored by Linode.
After about a year and half, Linode has already begun work on an expansion. It’s still largely under wraps, but what Berg can share is that “it’s indicative of the amazing growth that we’ve had over the last two years.”
Ballinger Director of Historic Preservation Fon Wang, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C will be presenting tomorrow morning on Sustainability and Historic Preservation from 7:30-9:30 am at Diversified Lighting Associates, an event hosted by the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. The Alliance is dedicated to protecting historic places in the Philadelphia region and building programs and opportunities that instill the values of historic preservation throughout the community.
The panel, to include colleagues from Marvin/Super Enterprise, Jefferson University School of Architecture, and the Navy Yard Planning & Development Division of PIDC, will focus on how historic preservation and sustainability are natural partners and how the effective practice of one leads to the other. These experts will also share the benefits, challenges and opportunities inherent to historic preservation and sustainable building practices.
This past Wednesday Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed into law three bills that would add incentives to protect the city’s historic buildings, as part of his effort to improve and expand preservation efforts across the city. Ballinger’s Director of Historic Preservation and Adaptive Reuse, Fon S. Wang, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is a part of the Mayor’s Task Force on Historic Preservation, the group responsible for developing and executing this legislation.
Historic preservation and adaptive reuse are not only financially and environmentally friendly practices to Philadelphia communities, but they help to maintain the historic culture of the city. Legislation like this encourages reuse for historically designated structures ensuring that their beauty, history, culture, and stories can be carried on as part of the city for years to come.
As a Philadelphia-based firm that does a variety of historic preservation and adaptive reuse work, as well as advocating for effective and proper preservation of historic properties in the region, we are proud to see Philadelphia’s mayor prioritize these processes in law.
Ballinger is pleased to announce that Linode Headquarters is a recipient of the 2019 BD+C Reconstruction Award. This award is given to the best historic preservation, reuse, renovation, and reconstruction projects nationwide. Winners were selected based on the overall design, engineering, and construction of the project.
Formally known as the Corn Exchange National Bank and Trust, Linode Headquarters is now home to an innovative and rapidly-growing tech company. Linode’s commitment to restoration drove the retention and rehabilitation of the building’s character-defining features, including the exteriors and double-story former banking hall. The interior spaces have been uncovered and restored to create a bright, transparent environment that respects the building’s history and authenticity. Moving forward, Linode Headquarters can serve as an example for future preservation and adaptive reuse projects.
Ballinger Senior Principal William Gustafson, FAIA recently taught a course titled Inspiring Campus Architecture: Bryn Mawr College and the Evolution of Collegiate Gothic. It was presented as part of the Main Line School Night, a local educational initiative that hosts publicly accessible classes covering a wide range of topics on design and the arts.
The course, which included three lectures and a tour of Bryn Mawr College, centered around two Philadelphia architects, Walter Cope and John Stewardson, who gave birth to the Collegiate Gothic movement in architecture. The program analyzed examples of the work of these two architects at institutions such as Bryn Mawr College, Princeton University, Washington University of Saint Louis and the University of Pennsylvania, and examined intersections of history, landscape, architecture and preservation.
The Evans Building at the University of Pennsylvania received a Certificate of Merit at the 2019 Philament Awards hosted by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) of Philadelphia. Ballinger collaborated with lighting consultant The Lighting Practice on the historic renovation project for Penn Dental Medicine.
The building was constructed in 1915 with funds provided by the school’s benefactor, Thomas W. Evans, dentist to the royalty of Europe, and has been home to the dental school for over a century. Ballinger’s recent renovation preserved the building’s architectural language while converting teaching and clinical practice spaces to 21st century functionality. The clinical spaces feature cool white light to emphasize cleaner, whiter teeth, while round decorative fixtures provide visual relief in the offices, lounges, and reception spaces. Linear fixtures highlight vibrant accent walls in student spaces, including classrooms, teaching laboratories, and lounges. Daylight in offices, student lounges and public-facing spaces create a warm and inviting environment.
The mission of the IES, founded in 1906, is to improve the lighted environment by bringing together those with lighting knowledge and by translating that knowledge into actions that benefit the public. The IES publishes reference documents on the lighting profession and works cooperatively with related organizations on the development of programs and standards.
Following the design and construction of Linode’s new Philadelphia headquarters, Ballinger successfully assisted Linode in the approval of Federal Historic Preservation Tax credits for the rehabilitation of the Corn Exchange National Bank on the corner of 3rd and Arch Streets. Ballinger completed Parts I through III of the application, working with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PMHC) and the Philadelphia Historical Commission. The tax credit allows Linode to apply 20% of the renovation cost, including construction and soft costs, to their tax liability. Ballinger’s careful insertion of a contemporary tech headquarters within a neoclassical building complies with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
In May 2018, the University of Pennsylvania’s recently renovated Evans Building was awarded LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The building is home to Penn’s School of Dental Medicine and the Leon Levy Dental Medicine Library.
Anticipating the structure’s 100th anniversary in 2015, Penn commissioned Ballinger to program, plan, and redesign the historic building for their “Evans Building Centennial Renaissance” initiative. With the goal of bringing the School of Dental Medicine into the 21st century, the space was re-envisioned to optimize patient care, expand academic and clinical spaces, and improve circulation flows.
Ballinger’s designers, engineers, and historic preservation team were tasked with preserving the building’s historic character while also modernizing infrastructure and systems to improve occupant comfort and operating efficiencies. USGBC awarded the LEED Gold certification based on the building’s optimized energy performance, green power, enhanced commissioning, reduced water usage, and innovative design.
A “topping out” ceremony was hosted on Tuesday for the expansion project at Chester County Hospital. The event marks the completion of steel work for the largest expansion in the hospital’s 125-year history.
A topping out ceremony is one of the oldest customs in the construction industry. It is celebrated when the last beam is placed at the top of a new building and traditionally involves placing an evergreen tree and U.S. flag on top of the structure, along with the final piece of steel. Chester County Hospital’s final beam was signed by hundreds of employees, leadership, and tradesmen.
Ballinger provided architecture and interior design services for the building, which, when completed, will feature a new main entry, procedural platform, emergency department, parking garage, green roof, and bed tower. The 250,000 SF expansion is scheduled for completion in 2019.
Ballinger’s Director of Historic Preservation and Adaptive Reuse, Fon S. Wang, AIA, LEED AP, was appointed to the Mayor’s Task Force on Historic Preservation. Philadelphia’s Historic Preservation Task Force was created in April 2017 to identify ways historic preservation can be a meaningful partner in the city’s growth. Philadelphia has the highest number of building parcels per square mile in the US but a lower than average number of historically designated buildings. Just 2.2% are locally designated as historic, compared to a 50-city average of 4.3%
As a member of the Task Force Subcommittee on Regulating Preservation Outcomes and a community representative for Chinatown, Fon will focus on review of regulations to facilitate growth while retaining what makes Philadelphia unique.
In addition to her roles as Director of Historic Preservation and Adaptive Reuse at Ballinger, Fon is a Board Member for the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, and a lecturer at PennDesign’s Historic Preservation Studio.
Today Ballinger architects led a tour of Philadelphia’s historic Girard Corn Exchange building, the future headquarters of cloud hosting company Linode, for CREW Philadelphia (Commercial Real Estate Women) members. Ballinger’s Director of Historic Preservation, Fon Wang, AIA, LEED AP and Ballinger Associate Daniel Howard, AIA were accompanied by Linode founder and CEO, Christopher Aker, who introduced the tour by describing his attraction to the historic building and the draw of Philadelphia as a hub for tech talent.
In 2016 Ballinger was selected to renovate the three-story building, which was built in 1902 and was the Union Bank of Philadelphia and then the Girard Corn Exchange National Bank and Trust Company. Located next to the Betsy Ross House, the building is listed in the national and local register of historic places. It features colossal engaged limestone columns and a granite stoop with wood, bronze and glass sliding pocket doors.
During the tour, attendees visited the bank vault, “coupon rooms,” a boardroom, and a double-story banking hall, which will be retained and rehabilitated. As Ballinger’s Director of Historic Preservation and a life-long Philadelphian, Fon Wang expressed her passion for the project. “We’re honored to be working on a building with such rich architectural heritage. The benefits of adaptive reuse are cultural, ecological and economic. A high-tech company headquartered in a historic building is a unique union, with advantages for both Linode and Philadelphia.”
Ballinger’s Director of Historic Preservation Fon S. Wang, AIA, LEED AP received the 2015 Young Architect Award at the AIA Philadelphia Design Awards Gala held on October 14th at the National Museum of American Jewish History. One of the highest honors presented by AIA Philadelphia, the Young Architect Award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the architectural profession in the categories of leadership, practice and service.
Over the course of her 17-year career, Fon has led projects ranging from state-of-the-art academic facilities to the restoration of a late 19th century station house. Her practical knowledge in sensitive interventions to existing heritage structures, as well as new construction in a historic context, is attuned to the evolving requirements of today’s occupants. Her designs adhere to the guidelines of the preservation community and building codes while recognizing the importance of evolving environmental and cultural concerns.
Fon is a Board Member for the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, Co-chair of Community Outreach Committee for CREW Philadelphia and volunteers her professional design services for the Community Design Collaborative.
Fon holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University and a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was the inaugural recipient of the David De Long Fellowship. She is a lecturer at PennDesign’s Historic Preservation Studio.
Ballinger is pleased to welcome Fon Wang to the architecture studio as Director of Historic Preservation.
Over the course of her 17 year career, Fon has led projects ranging from state-of-the-art academic facilities to the restoration of a late 19th century station house. Her practical knowledge in sensitive interventions to existing structures, as well as new construction in a historic context, is attuned to the evolving requirements of today’s occupants.
Fon’s arrival at Ballinger provides the firm with stronger credentials to grow a historic preservation portfolio.
From 2005 to 2015, Fon was principal of UCI Architects providing architecture, planning and historic preservation services. At UCI, she worked closely with the Ballinger team on Philadelphia’s Public Safety Services Campus (PSSC) project, a major renovation of the former Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company complex to become the headquarters of the Philadelphia Police Department as well as home to the Medical Examiner’s Office and Department of Health Laboratory Services. Now at Ballinger, she will continue to work on PSSC as well as other opportunities as they arise.
Fon was honored by the Philadelphia Business Journal as one of the 40 under 40 local proven performers in their industries and communities. Her professional affiliations include: Board Member Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, Design Services Committee Community Design Collaborative, Co-chair Community Outreach Committee CREW Philadelphia.
Fon holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University and a Master of Science Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was the inaugural recipient of the David De Long Fellowship. She is a lecturer at PennDesign’s Historic Preservation Studio.