Endorsed by

The Navy Yard, Philadelphia

Drive 20 minutes south of downtown Philly, and you arrive at the site of the USA’s first federal naval shipyard, where for nearly two centuries much of the US Navy’s fleet was constructed. Today, the 1,200-acre site is slowly being transformed into a mixed-use urban campus, which currently features a Norwegian-owned commercial shipyard, a scientific research and development precinct and the headquarters of the major apparel group URBN.

The relocation of the Urban Outfitters headquarters (part of the URBN group) to the site in 2004 was an important catalyst, with their adaptive reuse of historic brick buildings demonstrating the potentials of a contemporary work environment away from the city centre. The remarkable fit-outs are complemented by DIRT Studio’s inventive use of recycled material to construct a landscape of ‘forensic traces.’ And then there are the ships. Nothing prepares you for the extraordinary sight of this graveyard of aircraft carriers and frigates – for example the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy forms a formidable backdrop to the communal spaces of the URBN headquarters.

Looking beyond the design, the project is driven by a strong public-private alliance underpinned by commitment to meaningful job creation. On completion, the Navy Yard is projected to employ 40,000 people (almost matching the shipyard’s peak workforce during WW2) continuing the site’s vital role in the economic and historic fabric of Philadelphia.

URBN DRY DOCK NO. 1, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2009). As part of a former Navy yard revitalisation, DIRT Studio expanded retailer Urban Outfitters' Philadelphia campus around a submerged historic dry dock to create public parks and promenades.

URBN DRY DOCK NO. 1, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2009). As part of a former Navy yard revitalisation, DIRT Studio expanded retailer Urban Outfitters’ Philadelphia campus around a submerged historic dry dock to create public parks and promenades.

Image: DIRT Studio

DIRT Studio used recycled material to construct a landscape of ‘forensic traces’ at the URBN headquarters.

DIRT Studio used recycled material to construct a landscape of ‘forensic traces’ at the URBN headquarters.

Image: Jillian Walliss

Retired naval vessels are moored at the shipyard.

Retired naval vessels are moored at the shipyard.

Image: Jillian Walliss

Related topics

More the world

See all
Split bamboo arched trusses were used for the community training centre, near Dawei; this solution was adopted because the local bamboo species is prone to splitting. The bamboo frontier

Kiwi architect Richard Morris reflects on the trials, challenges and rewards of working with bamboo construction in Myanmar.

Serpentine Pavilion 2019 Designed by Junya Ishigami, Serpentine Gallery, London Meditation on a roof: Junya Ishigami completes slate-topped Serpentine Pavilion

The construction of the 2019 edition of the annual Serpentine Pavilion comission in London’s Kensington Gardens has been completed.

Hill House Box by Carmody Groarke. Carmody Groarke preserves Charles Rennie Mackintosh house in chainmail box

Carmody Groarke’s Hill House Box has been completed in Helensburgh, west of Glasgow.

The graphic used on the Architects Declare website. UK architecture firms declare climate and biodiversity emergency

Some of the UK’s biggest and best-known architecture firms have declared a “climate and biodiversity emergency” and pledged to strengthen working practices to help tackle …

Most read

Latest on site

Calendar