Record Reveals: Antonio Fiol-Silva on Philadelphia
In preparation for the 2016 AIA Convention, Architectural Record asks local architects about their Philadelphia favorites.
Antonio Fiol-Silva FAIA, AICP, LEED AP BD+C
Founding Partner, SITIO Architecture + Urbanism
Antonio Fiol-Silva founded the Philadelphia-based SITIO Architecture + Urbanism after many years as a leading principal at Wallace Roberts & Todd. His nationally recognized projects in the Mid-Atlantic region include the triple LEED Platinum-certified Paseo Verde mixed-use transit-oriented development; the FringeArts center on the Delaware River waterfront; and the master planning of the Steelstacks Art and Cultural Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, including the design of its Levitt SteelStacks Pavilion and its Hoover-Mason Trestle.
Best New Architecture
The Singh Center for Nanotechnology by Weiss/Manfredi, a gorgeous new addition to the University Campus that is not to be missed. The Sister Cities Park Pavilion by Digsau, another beautifully contextual architectural sculpture that also brilliantly redefines the public realm. The Barnes Foundation by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects, a world-class collection housed in a world class building.
Best Historic Architecture
Frank Furness and George Hewitt’s Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) of 1876 is—inside and out—one of the most exuberant and beautiful historic buildings you can experience anywhere. As a counterpoint, visit that other icon of its time: the PSFS tower of 1932—the first International style skyscraper built in the United States—to marvel at the audacity of its modernity and the sophisticated refinement of its interiors.
Best Restaurants and Bars
Monk’s Café has an astonishing selection of fine beers and great food, a real place! For Rittenhouse Square hubbub and sidewalk park-frontage seating, Parc is the place. To experience neighborhood dinning, go anywhere along south Philly’s resurgent East Passyunk restaurant corridor.
The Monaco Hotel next to Independence Hall and the Palomar Hotel in the old Architect’s Building are vibrant new hotels crafted out of beautiful old office buildings. The Logan, a new hotel off Logan Circle offers a great rooftop bar with sweeping views of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and its museums.
Best Museums and Galleries
To experience the far side, after visiting the Barnes and PAFA, visit the Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia on 22nd Street—a uniquely fascinating, if disturbing museum of medical oddities. There’s nothing like it anywhere in the world.
Along Center City’s Walnut Street, between Broad Street and Rittenhouse Square, you will find all of the fine stores to test your wallet. For more particular boutique shopping, Midtown Village, just east of Broad Street and north of Walnut, is a good bet.
A very unique thing to experience in Philadelphia is the Eastern State Penitentiary of 1829, America’s most historic—and architectural—(former) prison, considered to be the world's first true penitentiary. Check out Al Capone’s cell and the powerful spaces where Brad Pitt's 12 Monkeys was filmed.