Overlooking historic Washington Square, in the Society Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia, Locust Walk at Washington Square sat vacant for several years. The turn-of-the-century, five-story brick building formerly housed Lippincott Publishing. It presented enormous market potential as a residential property. The adaptive reuse of the building, however, confronted one substantial problem: the acquisition price was sufficiently high to discourage all developers. In order to make the reuse of the building possible, the architects conceived of creating new real estate on the roof in order to yield enough additional units to amortize the cost of the property. This solution enabled an architectural treasure to once again contribute to the vitality of this neighborhood.

The design preserved the distinct architectural character of the building by fitting 26 condominium apartments within the existing structure while retaining nearly all of the existing window and door openings. 31 parking spaces, accessed via a new garage ramp, are provided in the existing basement. The penthouse addition incorporates 3 two-story penthouses. All new penthouse construction is set back from the existing parapet on all sides to remain well within limits agreed to by the Philadelphia Historical Commission. In addition to preserving sightlines, this setback allowed for the creation of a series of expansive garden terraces.

Cecil Baker + Partners provided the design and documentation for the base building renovation and determined the unit distribution. The developer then sold each unit as raw space, and each buyer had the opportunity to customize their units. Cecil Baker + Partners ultimately provided custom designs for five of the residences.