3535 Market Street Renovation

Influenced by the original building’s era, the renovation of 3535 Market Street is both a modern architectural update as well as a nod to the past. 

Architectural Renovation | 450,000  SF | Philadelphia, PA

3535 Market was designed and constructed in the late 1970’s. At the time, a highly arrogated precast concrete was a very popular architectural building material. In the late 1990’s, like many other commercial office buildings in Philadelphia, 3535 Market underwent a renovation of its base. This renovation included installation of gray and black polished granite, enlarged angular gray sconces, and undistinguished metallic address numbering, which were all in complete contrast and out of context with the existing architecture of the building.
The building owner engaged our team to reinvigorate the experience for pedestrians and users of the building, which includes retail and restaurant use on the ground floor, together with a large lobby accessing office use in the upper stories. When asked to look at updating the base, the design team’s response was both contemporary and historical. The current building represents a very specific period through its aesthetic and materiality – we wanted to remove this notion of “style” and return the building to a design that more closely related to the original architect’s intention. With this concept, combined with the building owner’s interest in branding, the design removes all of the existing polished granite around the base, and replaces it with a fine-course limestone clad precast concrete that reflects the original intention for the building. Through this approach, the 36th Street and Market Street marquees can be considered the new, contemporary layer of this building’s history.


For the design team, the intervention is an artful approach to a difficult challenge – updating a building that truly wants to be returned to its original condition, while simultaneously creating a sense of branding, modernity, and urban wayfinding. The design of the marquees intentionally contrasts the concrete backdrop – they are attempting to be different while also surgically inserting themselves into the existing context.

The two-toned color scheme was also chosen with great care. Much like the marquees themselves, the two-toned scheme metaphorically illustrates the old/new relationship – subtly highlighting and celebrating the insertion of a new element into the building. The charcoal metal panels can be understood as the body of the building while the green panels represent the soul. As one enters the building’s main entrance (on 36th Street), he or she passes through a new vestibule, with the interior lined in green panels – as if to give the occupant a glimpse of the building’s new identity. As a gesture to Market Street, the mezzanine level features a metal panel marquee framing an angled floor-to-ceiling glass façade. This marquee is designed to be the counterpart to the 36th Street marquee. The metal panel colors are flipped, to give the public the sensation of seeing the interior structure of the building.

South Elevation

South Elevation

West Elevation

West Elevation

Cross-Section through lobby

Cross-Section through lobby


Branding & Identity

Finally, the last attribute of the redesigned marquees are their branding. The “3535” which is stacked two-over-two features one 35 that is flipped. As part of the design solution for identifying the entry to the building, the 3535 can be understood and read from two opposite directions even if one or two of the numbers is obstructed.

The green was carefully selected to offer another contribution to the historical value of the building. The color was derived from similar colors of the original building’s era – a nod to the constant recycling of stylistic ideas throughout history.


Photography by Jeffrey Totaro.