Clifton Residence

ktichen-diningNew owners of a small, poorly expanded trinity realized quickly that they desperately needed updates: storage was limited, the kitchen was dysfunctional and their bathroom was barely beyond builder grade. RethinkTANK was called in to offer advice on creating a master bath, but observing their living situation and the limits of available space we chose to step back and discuss the bigger picture. Every day activities such as hanging one’s coat and disposing of shoes and boots was impossible as there was no entry storage. Further, the kitchen had a similar issue as there was no way to store and easily access pots, pans, canned goods, small appliances, etc. The bedroom suffered from the same lack of storage. Thus, a masterplan was developed for all three levels of the trinity to make a functional and sunlit home. What was a 1.5 bath, two-bedroom home with a deck and small yard became a home that had it all.millwork2The ground floor upon entry was given a his and her closets with room to store and put on shoes/boots. Seasonal storage framed the top along with a relocated and more efficient duct work. An integrated television niche places the TV at eye level. A small closet to the left stores cleaning supplies, guest coats and hides vertical duct work.

millwork4Across from the new entry storage sits millwork for display of books and decorative arts along with more storage for holiday decorations, couch blankets, barware, the living room better proportioned and better served, the rear portion of the ground floor was altered from a poorly planned kitchen and awkwardly small yard into a dining room that seats 6 comfortably and a skylit open kitchen with plenty of counter top space and ample storage.dining-southUtilizing an existing masonry opening to center the table, the dining room makes room for art display and a credenza for china and barware.dining-northOpposite stands a pantry wall with integrated circuits to power a hand height coffee machine, microwave and a handheld vacuum. Breakfast cereals, canned goods, pots and pans, glassware, bowls, etc is all secreted behind walnut faced cabinet doors. The morning routine mapped out kitchen takes over the yard space and is naturally lit through operable skylights. A fully vented oven balances the refrigerator location leaving room for multiple people to be in the kitchen the deck allows the second floor internal bathroom to make room for a new, centrally relocated laundry room from the basement. A new centrally located heat pump creates a more energy efficient layout. The new bathroom receives western and southern light and either allows for a deck off the master bedroom or another bathroom stacked above.

The master bedroom was given over 12 linear feet of wardrobe storage, storage for suitcases and a dramatically lit cosmetic niche.diningWho says you can’t get a lot with a small space?



Fitzwater Residence

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How do you transform a 1930’s divided townhouse for a family of four in a sustainable way?
The townhouse is located in Bella Vista, which is a neighborhood adjoining Center City and encompassing the Italian Market. The house is located at the periphery of the neighborhood and is in walking distance to both places of employ for the owners.  The current renovation sought to accommodate a family of four. After salvaging the note-worthy and reusable items, such as doors, hinges, kitchen cabinetry, and millwork details, through ReStore, nearly all else was removed with the exception of the wood floors, stairs, vestibule finishes and the parlor room leaded glass window.

Amelie’s Bark Shop

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How to alter a facade from 1960’s residential to a classic storefront?

Amelie’s Bark Shop & Bakery is located on Passyunk Square in South Philadelphia directly across from the renovated Singing Fountain. Passyunk Avenue was once a major commercial thoroughfare and has reemerged as a go-to destination for boutique shopping.

The facade was revamped from a pragmatic residential function to a classic “British” look. This was accomplished with well-proportioned tripartite storefront glass set within a subtle reveal below a new exposed channel with Landmark lettering. The circular signage structurally mounts to the channel and faces the Square for ideal exposure. Internally, the showcase of extraordinary baked pet treats greets customers and is viewable from the sidewalk. Keeping a tight-budget in mind, the existing masonry was reused to form the sill and entrance way. The owner’s pet dog, Amelie, climbs up a custom winder stair and sits at the sill admiring the activity on the Square.


Divine Sanctuary


The Divine Sanctuary is a proposal to convert a significant, neglected structure into a “city of memories.”  This columbarium will be a place for urbanites to memorialize and grieve their deceased loved ones in a personal and contemporary way.  It will activate an urban neglected asset  by giving life through the celebration of death.








The Divine Sanctuary will transform the way urban Americans perceive the funerary industry and will bring that industry into the 21st century.

Cremation is the foremost rising trend in funerary services for a multitude of reasons.  Primarily, economy is the driver, followed by customization options, land use concerns and funerary preferences, such as religion and philosophy.  At the moment, basic cremation services can be had for as little as $800.  The cremains are strewn per the whim of the recipient and/or deceased.

The Divine Sanctuary creates a demand for a proximal place of rest in a 21st century atmosphere.  The preserved building lends the project prestige, history, charm, stature and community.  Urbanity keeps one closer to the deceased versus the distant cemeteries of today.  Its design is accepting of impromptu and personal memorials.  Customization from the service to the interment is the standard.  It is a mirror of the city itself with its neighborhoods, blocks, vistas and landmarks.  No option exists like it.  Hence all funerary services are provided for within one protected historic city structure.

When someone passes we lose a part of our community.  Their burial often happens outside of the city and subsequently we lose the connection. The urban fabric in which we live represents all of us; from its quilt of neighborhoods, cultural institutions and buildings.  While we are all different we are all part of this urban collective.

This building is the sanctuary where affordable cremation , interment and ceremony will occur.  This secular institution accommodates all cultures funerary needs.  Each customized placement will be set in perpetuity in an historically preserved building.  The setting provides contemplative perspectives amongst a shared urban setting.  In addition to the funerary art created by varying artisans, the space will be filled with a changing curation of contemporary art.  This adds further life and renews each visit.

The Divine Sanctuary preserves their legacy, close to where we live, to rest in peace in a place that is dear to all of us.

A protected historic building that will allow us all to share in their memory.



Kingsessing Kitchen

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The client wished to update a dark west facing kitchen along with a formal dining area. The kitchen looks out to a deep yard, but was visually separated by poor planning. The design calls for a large expanse of glass to capture the view. A trellis extension which marries the architecture with the existing canopy of the backyard shields that glass with greenery. A chef’s table for morning meals and baking is centered on the space. New terrace access is given on both sides to give more flow when entertaining.

The chefs table contains open deep shelving for cutting boards and utensils of all sizes along with power. The view is achieved by expanding beyond the perimeter of the house with near cinematic proportions. Also, the space includes a renovated powder room hidden behind a pocket door. Furthermore, the existing entry to the dining room is duplicated to repeat the proportional framing and existing axis. Lastly, the north placed pantry wall masks a blank stair wall to an above rental unit.

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Lodges Lane



RethinkTANK was asked to reevaluate an existing bathroom space to accommodate a growing family of four. The bathroom is shared from a bathing perspective by the whole family who also share the same floor of their home. When children are young, this arrangement is fine. As they age, separating parent and child spaces are important. RethinkTANK was charged with finding a way to fit a full bath, separate shower, separately enclosed toilet room, a double sink and ample bath and linen storage; all within a square 75sf. In the end, the client received all of that along with an added washer/dryer closet and an additional shower to separately accommodate the children.

This design was constricted by the square footprint which is bound by a chimney wall to the north and two small windows to the east. Using the notion of bathing in morning light a starting point, a shower replete with a rain shower head sits on one side and an enclosed toilet room with an in-wall toilet balances the south side. The entry door from the master bedroom was moved to the center of the space on axis with the mirror above the double sink. This not only expands the constricted space visually, but also leaves space for a 6′ tub to the west. Custom millwork cabinetry sits in the northwest corner, cleverly accessible from the tub and sink sides.

Walling off the master bath from the hall leaves room for a stacked washer and dryer. Having laundry facilities on the sleeping floor is a dream for many parents. Lastly, simply pushing a bedroom wall a few feet enables an existing powder room north of the chimney mass into a 3/4 bath to serve the children. A carpet of marble hexagonal and mosaic tiles along with walls of roman subway tile line the master bath. Custom details and niches lend a humanist touch making for a beautiful, compact and functional space.


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An eat-in-kitchen is a sacred room within a residence. It is where the family gathers as a unit and remains seated for an extended period at least twice a day. Creating a place for discussion along with the sharing and creation of food is critical for family integrity. Here all the seeds for this possibility were there, but a desire to open the room to the yard beyond was determined to destroy the fertile ground.

In dialogue with the client, the focus was primarily on the south wall. Here is where a small table sat, with an unaligned window on one side and a space confining door on the other. The door was open, as the link to the yard takes precedent in warmer months. The desire was to open the wall for french doors that could open on to a new small deck that would then lead to the yard. Yet, the room itself was a hodgepodge of materials, equipment and inconveniently located vestiges such as a decorative hutch that sat hulkingly in the corner. Radiators loomed large and took up valuable floor space. But most critically, was that the client lost sight of what was most valuable; the table.

Instead, RethinkTANK shared the emotional and subjective value of retaining the table. By centering the table on a new, large scale, venting picture window a visual link to the yard is enhanced and the place at the table remains central to the family life. A door to the yard was set within an existing masonry opening on the eastern wall which eased circulation while still visually open.  The hutch was moved to the center of the west wall giving it rightful prominence. A counter for everyday items flanked the southern side whilst the refrigerator was given more room on the other side. The farmhouse sink was transferred to the eastern wall and centered on a window. New slim radiators sat quietly at the bases. The floor finish becomes one surface treatment. Finally, recessed lighting gives harmony to the room with one Ingo Maurer Campari pendant over the table giving family time the spotlight.

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Pine Street Residence


Updated living

Renovation of a four story, historic townhouse within the Society Hill neighborhood for a ceramicist. Program spaces include a new sealed internal studio space with access to kilns in the yard, glaze room with mechanical exhaust, central contemporary kitchen, two-story sitting area, updated bedroom and bathroom layouts and finishes, two story master suite with new enlarged north facing dormer, bedroom loft and master bath. All finishes, construction practices and equipment will follow LEED guidelines.




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Larchwood Residence


How do you join two rooms while maintaining levels of intimacy? In an effort to bring southern light deep into the dining area, a demising wall was removed. A clerestory of glass has been added with a passthrough below to the yard. The kitchen has been completely rethought based on morning and evening routines. Ample storage allows for much of what was displayed in the original servants kitchen to be hidden. Elements such as an herb garden, a raised serving area, with nook below, a chalkboard wall, and a built in bookcase brings down the scale of the combined spaces to arrive at a more intimate design. A newly relocated basement stair with relocated door and trimwork touch upon the sustainable aspects of the finishes.


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Catharine Loft

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Finding space where there seems to be none.

One of our specialties at RethinkTANK is to discover hidden spaces during the renovation process.  Our initial survey revealed many “packed-out” areas that masked utilities or plainly served as massing within the volume of open space.  While the latter can help form space, by carving into it to create usable niches, massing and utility can be combined.  In the Catharine loft, originally designed in the 1980’s, there were plenty of secret opportunities to exploit.

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A closet adjacent to the kitchen served as a pantry and coat area, but was better utilized in a mirrored condition.  This way, the adjacent master bedroom gained a 9′ long closet and a better organized kitchen cabinet made way for additional pantry space.    The kitchen also received new recessed and under wall cabinet lighting, a butcher block counter top and new appliances.

Additionally, the master bedroom was further configured by carving into a chimney chase.  Here, a void with golden proportions and a custom Carrara marble counter was made making room for Ron Arad’s bookworm, power and cable TV access.  Below, and facing the passageway is a small niche for a trash can.  All floors, including the adjacent nursery/office were redone in tight-grain naturally finished bamboo.  A soffit access panel was redone to sit flush with the ceiling and disappear.  On the other side of the chimney massing, the standard baseboard structurally supported a wall-mounted paperback book shelving unit.

A second bedroom’s industrial carpet was removed and a new custom OSB floor with a red wash was placed with its grid-spaced fasteners and proportional cuts evident.  These details elevate the humble nature of the material.  Access to an adjacent terrace is to the south which is lit by a Louis Poulsen Saturn pendant.  There new custom storm windows with painted cypress frames were placed for cooler months.

The main living area has a massing volume for the fireplace which visually separates the dining area from the sitting area.  However, it was “packed-out,” wasting nearly 9 cubic feet. This area was discreetly carved out and a painted black box was inserted to receive firewood along with a shelf for newspapers and matches.  Danish fire tools were mounted on the front thanks to some new blocking behind.  Also, by relocating a few light switches, a larger expanse for artwork was created.  Power for Munari’s Falkland pendant lamp was set on axis with the entry for which to pull visitors.  Lastly, the exposed brick wall was sealed with a matte finish and an old steel column was revealed and cleaned.

The bathroom’s mauve counter was redone in a floating manner and the adjacent laundry area was expanded with a stacked washer/dryer unit.  That area is visually closed off by a curtain which saves circulation space when open in a tight space.  New recessed lighting and a full width mirror were added as well as a niche for Tejo Remy’s milk bottle lamp.  The lamp turns on when the bath is in use.