SPAN: Our Blog

Celebrating the Challenge of Difficult Spaces
This project at Villanova University celebrates the premise that the most sustainable buildings are the new ones that don’t get built. Reusing existing buildings is a more sustainable strategy, but these tricky transformations can test even creative architects on their problem-solving skills. In this extreme example of “using what you’ve…   Read More >
Revitalizing North Central Philadelphia
North Philly Rising Much has evolved over the years in North Philadelphia where Gilded-Age opulence and industry yielded to factory closings, poverty and crime. Making it great again is possible, but not easy. And so the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) pushes on with another herculean effort to revitalize a formerly…   Read More >
Abandoned Woolworth + Leap of Faith = School for City Kids
Making the LeapThis is an if-you-build-it, you-hope-they-will-come story. The administrators of Freire Charter School took a leap of faith in crafting a new Middle School from the abandoned bowels of a former Woolworth store in Center City Philadelphia. The vision to transform a worn-out “five & dime” into a vibrant learning environment was…   Read More >
How You Make an Impact
What we do is an extension of ourselves. Whether it’s a book club, playing soccer, building furniture, or baking. We all find something, or many things, that keep oneself in equilibrium and a state of order. For me, I’m in the boat of “many things–” two boards, three committees, a…   Read More >
Passive House Designers
Earlier this summer, Kurt and I each sat for the Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) /Certified Passive House Designer (CPHD) exam, a comprehensive test that focuses on the stringent passive house standards and design methodologies required for a certified passive house building. As a CPHC/CPHD, one can aid in the…   Read More >
Accessibility in Older Buildings
Owning or managing a building requires having in place a business plan which typically includes an operating reserve fund. Cost for utilities and ordinary monthly expenses fall outside the reserve fund. The reserve fund covers the inevitable unexpected cost of maintaining a property, such as replacing the boiler when it…   Read More >
Quality Child Care Space
What Makes for Quality Child Care Space? In 2009, researchers in Child Development at St. Joseph’s University were involved in assessing the quality of local child care programs based on the ECERS (Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale), a nationally-recognized standard. The ECERS attempts to apply ratings based on program processes…   Read More >
Analyzing Wall Assemblies
Selecting an exterior wall assembly might not be one of the most exciting decisions made when designing a new house, but it certainly is one of the most critical.   In this article we present some of our investigations into the thermal performance of some typical, and some less- typical, new…   Read More >
Buildings As Radiators
Until about fifty years ago, U.S. builders and homeowners weren’t terribly worried about insulating our houses. Once we started to care, we still had a lot to learn. In 1967, my father built a Capp Homes Finish-It-Yourself house on a site in the Iowa countryside. Their marketing pitch was “The…   Read More >