John C. Anderson Apartments Honored with National AIA Housing Award

June 08, 2015

Wallace Roberts and Todd (WRT), an integrated design firm of architects, landscape architects and planners, has announced that its project, the John C Anderson Apartments(JCAA), has been awarded a 2015 National Housing Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The award will be formally presented at AIA's national convention in Atlanta on May 14, 2015.

The National Housing Award celebrates projects that best exemplify the importance of good housing as a necessity of life, a sanctuary for the human spirit and a valuable national resource.

JCAA is the first affordable senior housing project in the Eastern United States to be developed with the active involvement of an LGBT community group and with the specific intent of providing a safe and welcoming "LGBT-Friendly" living environment for the community's under-served lower-income elders. The project is being honored in part because of how the design team worked to engage that community throughout the process and realize a key objective of having seniors age in place and remain active participants in the life of Philadelphia's highly urban and diverse Washington Square West neighborhood.

The building, clad in terra cotta hued cement board panels and brick, is integrated with the neighborhood through ground floor common areas that are designed to be highly visible and welcoming to passers-by and to promote opportunities for inter-generational socializing. The resulting design has become a microcosm of this diverse and vibrant neighborhood, organized around a sun filled central courtyard that provides generous outdoor seating areas as well as spaces for more active recreational activities and community gardening The common spaces that surround this "public square" include a social lounge and library that is quickly filling with items donated by residents to create anLGBT oriented collection.

JCAA has a strong focus on sustainability and is considered a true transit-oriented development. "Residents are a short distance to many commercial, cultural and health care services Philadelphia has to offer," said Joe Salerno, AIA, LEED AP , Senior Associate at WRT "The location is also very close to two subway lines, several SEPTA bus routes and is along one of the city's new dedicated bike routes (along S. 13th street)."

Sustainable features within the apartment building include a vegetated roof to help reduce demand on the City's storm water infrastructure, solar panels to address the building's domestic hot water needs and a high- performance thermal envelope that substantially reduces mechanical loads.

About WRT
WRT is a dynamic cross disciplinary firm offering services in planning, urban design, architecture, and landscape architecture. For more than 50 years, WRT has been dedicated to improving the quality of the natural and built environments by applying principles of sustainability to the planning and design of buildings, landscapes, cities, and regions. The firm has been the recipient of more than 400 planning and design awards both nationally and internationally. For more information, please visit

Courtesy AIA Philadelphia