2017 SUBURBAN PROJECT OF THE YEAR
Swarthmore Town Center West | Swarthmore, Pa.
Located at the edge of the Swarthmore College campus, the Swarthmore Town Center West complex was an intensely collaborative and strategically planned mixed-use development completed in May 2016. A diverse team achieved the goals of both the college and the borough by incorporating sustainable design, a hybrid building structure, energy efficient building envelope, improved traffic management, and extensive site planning.
The 45,000-SF Swarthmore Town Center West includes the boutique, 40-room Inn at Swarthmore; the Swarthmore Campus & Community Store, which replaces the college’s traditional bookstore; the 100-seat farm-to-table restaurant Broad Table Tavern; and three multipurpose meeting and event rooms totaling 3,500 SF. Serving as a new Swarthmore College portal and gathering place for visitors, alumni, and community, the project reflects the college’s Quaker tradition and complements the pedestrian scale of the existing borough retail village.
- Planning: The award-winning planning strategy established a new southern gateway for campus by reworking vehicle and pedestrian pathways to create safer, more inviting access between the college and Borough of Swarthmore’s retail district and the regional rail station adjacent to the site. Chester Road (Pa. Route 320) was realigned to incorporate a new roundabout, with an unusual five-leg configuration. It provides high visibility, safe pedestrian crossings in all directions, and native, drought-tolerant landscaping. The intersection, the first roundabout in the SEPTA bus system, provides a sense of arrival for both the borough and the college.
- Architecture: The architecture of the three-story building reflects the college’s design aesthetic, which emphasizes simplicity, honesty, and integrity. Peaked roofs, dormers, and deep eave lines offer a traditional aesthetic. The look belies a modern approach; a hybrid wood and steel structure combines with an efficient, high-performance building envelope. Exterior walls feature a bluestone base course and EIFS cladding for the appearance of stucco with the high R-value of continuous insulation, low maintenance, and long-term durability.
- Sustainability: LEED Silver certification is pending from the U.S. Green Building Council, due in part to the high-performing building envelope, mechanical heat recovery system and efficient HVAC, and accessibility to public transit. All wood used in the project is FSC-certified, and much of the interior finish wood is white oak reclaimed from the site.
- Community: The development serves as a physical and social link between the borough and the college, promoting collaboration, communication, and opportunities for engagement involving the entire community. The project expands the walkable core of Swarthmore’s town center, with improved connections to existing public transit. Visitors can use handicapped-accessible pedestrian routes from Town Center West to all parts of campus and the business district, leaving their cars behind. Clear traffic lanes, crosswalks, and green space invite interaction while ensuring a safe pedestrian environment for all.
- Success: The inn, restaurant, and store have exceeded projections since opening in May 2016. Numerous social events have been hosted since opening, a testament to the importance of the project in borough life. The project received the William H. Bates Memorial Award from the Delaware County Planning Department in September 2016. The roundabout was recognized with a Diamond Award by the American Council of Engineering Consultants, PA Chapter in March 2017
Swarthmore Town Center West Project Team:
Aegis Property Group (owner’s representative and project management)
Cope Linder Architects (master planning and architecture)
Façade Group (façade consulting)
Simon Tickell, AIA (design consulting for exterior architecture)
Floss Barber, Inc. (inn and public space interior design)
DAS Architects (tavern interior design)
Berlin & Associates (store interior design)
Gilmore & Associates, Inc. (civil engineering)
McMahon Associates (traffic engineering)
A.W. Lookup Corporation (structural engineering)
Bruce E. Brooks & Associates (MEP engineering)
Grenald Waldron Associates (lighting design)
W.S. Cumby (construction management)