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The Public Library joins in worldwide celebration of 'Pride & Prejudice'

On January 28, the world celebrated 200 years since the publication of Jane Austen's classic Pride & Prejudice, and the Free Library of Philadelphia played its part. They hosted an all-day event featuring lectures, film screenings and "pop-up" theatrical performances of scenes from the novel.

"The enthusiasm and inventiveness that we’re seeing now has everything to do with what’s happened in the decades since that bicentennial in 1975," Ms. Wells said by e-mail. "The beloved 1995 mini-series adaptation of 'Pride and Prejudice,' for sure, but also the influence of the Jane Austen Society of North America (founded in 1979) and of course the Internet and social media. So many people of all ages, nationalities, and walks of life now self-identify as Austen fans and are out and proud about that. They love, love, love 'P&P' and are overjoyed at any opportunity to celebrate and share that love."

Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.

Local company Momentum Dynamics develops vital electric car tool

Malvern-based Momentum Dynamics has developed a wireless charging pad for the Chevy Volt. The 10-person startup is helping revolutionize charging technology for electric vehicles. The Daily News chatted with the company's founder.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for wireless charging?
A: I was working on a project to deliver solar power to troops during the Iraq war, which led me to a safe, short-distance method of transmitting power wirelessly. The clear application was electric vehicles. The challenge was not the vehicle or battery but the charging connection to the grid.

Original source: The Daily News
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Redfin names next hot neighborhoods for 2013

According to Redfin, the next hot neighborhoods in the Philadelphia area will be...drumroll...Phoenixville, Brewerytown and our very own #ontheground home West Germantown.

West Germantown is a historic neighborhood that went from riches to rags. It was once the sought after destination by aristocrats, but its large stone homes sat dilapidated for years when the money left. Now these beautiful dwellings on both sides of Johnson Street are slowly and steadily being renovated.

Original Source: Redfin (via Curbed Philly)
To see the complete list, click here

AIA's Honor Awards showcase sustainable design

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) might not have a specific category in its Honor Awards for sustainability, but the organization's Architect Magazine culled through the awardees to note the greenest efforts of the year. Standouts included the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

Perhaps it's possible to read the lack of a sustainable design category for the Honor Awards a different way. Because sustainable design is the architectural obligation that Piano describes, then it's a given that sustainability will be a feature of prominent projects—or it should be a given, for architects and clients alike. Arguably, all of the Honor Award designs feature some green features. Nevertheless, sustainability helped some projects win out in their Honor Award categories more than others. So here is a list of the top projects in part because they emphasized sustainability.

Original source: Architect Magazine
Read the complete story here.

Wall Street Journal details Toll Brothers' foray into condo market

The Wall Street Journal notes Toll Brothers' increasing stake in the national condo market. The Horsham-based company, known locally for its suburban developments before forays into Naval Square and the Loft District, already has ten condo projects under way in New York City. They are scheduled to announce their first project in the Washington, D.C. area.

"Baby boomers are downsizing and getting tired of mowing the lawn, and many are looking for a place where they don't have to drive for everything," said Christopher Leinberger, a Washington urban land-use strategist and partner in developer Arcadia Land Co. "The home builders in this country have been slow in getting into this market, but once they do, they find that it is a large market with pent-up demand."

Original source: The Wall Street Journal
To read the complete story, click here.

Local researchers examine impact of fracking on health

The University of Pennsylvania's Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology is leading the effort to assess the health risks of natural gas extraction. They are heading up a national coalition of institutions set to analyze and map the risks of fracking.

The aim is to bring academic discipline to the unresolved national debate, which pits an industry that denies any link between fracking and environmental contamination against those who assert that fracking poisons air and water with natural and man-made chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects and other illnesses.

“There is an enormous amount of rhetoric on both sides,” said Trevor M. Penning, head of the Penn toxicology center and the driving force behind the Environmental Health Sciences Core Center Hydrofracking Working Group. “We felt that because we are situated in Pennsylvania, we had a duty to get on top of what was known and what was not known.”

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Lonely Planet names Philly as Top 10 U.S. destination

Lonely Planet put together a list of the top U.S. travel desinations for 2013. Our fair city clocked in at number four.

Forget the cheesesteaks and tri-corner hat, Philadelphia is becoming known as an art capital. In addition to the world renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art, the formerly remote the Barnes Foundation, a once private collection of Matisse, Renoir and Cézanne, has a new central location. And it’s not just the big museums – Philly’s gallery scene is exploding with new venues like the Icebox garnering international attention and turning the Northern Liberties and Fishtown neighborhoods into the new hot arts hub. First Fridays, the monthly gallery open house, long a tradition in Old City, has expanded to the refurbished Loft District, where the party goes on in a host of new bars, clubs and live music venues.

Original Source: LonelyPlanet.com
For the full story, click here.

The New York Times spends 36 hours in Philadelphia

A writer from the New York Times spends "36 Hours" in Philadelphia, hitting up the Philadelphia History Museum, Johnny Brenda's, 13th Street and one particularly spicy spot: 

Across the Schuylkill in University City, the newest location of the locally beloved Han Dynasty (3711 Market Street; 215-222-3711; handynasty.net) has a wide-open dining room with modern lines, rough-hewn wood and a kitschy cocktail list. Bucket-size drinks like the Scorpion Bowl and Singapore Sling are $5 during happy hour. But the food is the real attraction. Plates come one after the other in family-style portions — dan dan noodles ($7.95), double-cooked fish ($17.95) and spicy, crispy cucumbers ($6.95), each rated 1 to 10 on Han’s hot-or-not index.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.

Teva cancels development plans in Northeast Philly

Teva, the Israeli pharmaceutical company, is nixing plans to build a proposed $300 million distribution center in Northeast Philadelphia. The company was to set to receive $4.7 million in grants and tax credits to aid construction.

Earlier this month, Teva, which is based in Israel and has its North American headquarters in North Wales, Pa., said it is reassessing its global network footprint as part of a plan to reduce costs by $1.5 billion to $2 billion over the next three-to-five years.Teva broke ground on the distribution project, which called for the construction of three buildings that would have employed more than 200 workers, in September 2011.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the full story here.

PlanPhilly launches new website

PlanPhilly has launched a new website. They hope the fresh, innovative platform will help them better connect to the city's community of planners, designers, developers and residents.

"PlanPhilly gave us a chance to explore the relationships between organizations, issues, projects and people in a way that hasn't been done before," said Tom Boutell, lead developer, P'unk Avenue (punkave.com). "We also enjoyed pursuing responsive design, delivering a great experience across phones, tablets and desktops. Rich content is what we're all about, and finding the right way to showcase the depth and breadth of PlanPhilly's content challenged us in new and intriguing ways. We're also excited about the site's community-powered features, like professional profiles and the ability to submit new organizations for inclusion in the directory."
Original source: PlanPhilly
To visit their new site, click here.

Opportunities for development after death of Forum Theater

The closure of the infamous Forum Theater opens up a world of development possibilities on an underserved stretch of Market Street.

"Those [2100 and 2200] blocks of Market Street are kind of one of the last significant gaps in the quality of the streetscape," said Alan Greenberger, the city's commerce director. Drexel University's eastward expansion and the transformation of the west side of the city near the Schuylkill from industrial to commercial and recreational uses are "all suggesting that there is a wave that is going to happen to get the west side to meet the east side" of the city, Greenberger said.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the full story here.

The Atlantic Cities compiles the year's best #cityreads

The Atlantic's urban site puts together a list of the best writing on urban issues from 2012. Topics include transportation, energy and architecture.

It's not just your lousy memory: the end of 2012 was much busier than the beginning. Just since July, we've seen a U.S. presidential election, a once-in-four-centuries hurricane, four horrific mass shootings, riots and warfare across the Middle East. Our #Cityreads of the year follow the news cycle -- into a high-rise housing project after Sandy and the Republican party's relationship with cities -- but they also veer off course, into the weirder corners of rail construction, charter cities, and more.

Original source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the full list here.

The New York Times reviews 'Dancing Around the Bride"

The New York Times takes note of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's much-lauded dance exhibition, "Dancing Around the Bride," an exploration of the collaborations between Merce Cunningham and the artists John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

Many moments in these solos are like the sudden exclamations and figures of speech that make some Shakespearean soliloquies so present-tense. As a dancer re-examines a step or a position — although there’s nothing that could be labeled acting — we might be watching the movement equivalents of Angelo’s “What’s this? What’s this?” in “Measure for Measure” or Hamlet’s “Ay, there’s the rub.”

Dance performances connected with “Dancing Around the Bride” run through Jan. 21 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Original source:
The New York Times
Read the full review here.

New York Times lauds local drop in childhood obesity

The New York Times takes note of urban success stories in the war against childhood obesity. Philadelphia is among the most promising cases, mostly thanks to school-based initiatives. 

Philadelphia has undertaken a broad assault on childhood obesity for years. Sugary drinks like sweetened iced tea, fruit punch and sports drinks started to disappear from school vending machines in 2004. A year later, new snack guidelines set calorie and fat limits, which reduced the size of snack foods like potato chips to single servings. By 2009, deep fryers were gone from cafeterias and whole milk had been replaced by one percent and skim.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.

CDCs add billions to Philly economy

A recent study found that community development corporations have had a $3.3 billion impact on the Philadelphia economy over the last two decades.

The research found that the money CDCs have spent over that period has added $28 million to the city’s tax base, created 12,000 jobs and increased wealth for neighborhood property owners by $680 million by transforming blight. The report shows roughly $2.2 billion of the $3.3 billion affected neighborhoods through new construction and rehabilitation of homes and commercial and public spaces. In addition, the research found that CDCs have added $5.1 billion to the state’s economy during the last 20 years, generated 37,100 jobs and brought in $118 million in state tax revenue.

Original source: The Philadelphia Business Journal
Read the full story here

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