Horn & Hardart's 'Automat' was one of Philadelphia's most successful enterprises through the first half of the 20th Century. Now a 1912 building that housed one of Center City's first Automats has been thoroughly renovated, and that renovation will be honored by the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia in June with a Grand Jury Award.
"The Steele Building at 15 South 11th Street was derelict for years before our client, Brickstone Realty, purchased it," said David A. Schultz, AIA, co-founder and principal of DAS Architects. "We replaced all the windows and building systems, repaired the tile floors and marble stairs in the lobby, and restored the Italianate friezes and terra cotta fleur-de-les on the overhanging cornice. It is a tribute to the original builder's skill that so much of the delicate exterior features survived intact for more than 100 years."
The Automat cafeteria was on the ground floor and the upper floors were lofts for clothing manufacturers who sent their finished garments to Market Street's big department stores. The old factory floors are now home to The Yards loft-style co-working space. The ground-floor space now serves HoneyGrow, the new millennium's healthy successor to the Automat and fast food.
"The current increase of co-working spaces like this project is the next iteration in Philadelphia's growth," said Susan M. Davidson, IDC, co-founder and principal of DAS Architects. "The Steele Building is at the center of the Midtown Village revival, surrounded by apartment, bars, restaurants, shops and gyms. It's another place for creative Philadelphians to thrive."
Photography: Barry Halkin