fashion district story top banner

Constructing Fashion: Hill Helps Philadelphia Renovate Iconic Urban Mall

Take a tour of beautiful Philadelphia with Hill International Vice President Lance Rothstein to learn more about some of Hill’s projects that have helped shape the City of Brotherly Love. To watch the video, click here. Read more below about one of Hill’s latest Philadelphia projects, Fashion District.

On the morning of September 19, 2019, a great crowd of eager Philadelphians waited for the noontime opening of the new Fashion District. Canvassers handed out promotional materials for flagship stores opening within the new mall. Lines stemmed from the doors of department stores offering opening deals. Visitors wrapped around the massive building, covering three city blocks. At the main entrance of the mall on 9th Street, a marching band patiently awaited their cue as cameras rolled upon the ribbon-cutting ceremony. With a burst of confetti, the doors were opened and Fashion District was filled.

Even before getting into the building, huge differences distinguished Fashion District from “The Gallery,” which previously occupied the space. Lance says of the change: “The building is much more accessible now. Entrances from the street into the old Gallery used to be only on the corners. Now there are over 20 ways into the mall!” Lance went on to describe other visible changes to the exterior of the building. Solid walls were replaced by glass, stone, and metal and pedestrian walkways were made more safe and accessible beneath underpasses. While waiting at Fashion District’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Lance described the opening of the former building in the 1970s, “Even the ribbon-cutting ceremony of The Gallery took place inside. A priority of the renovation was clearly to open this building up.”

Inside, one observed a continued openness. Lance reported that a major issue of “The Gallery” was that one of its flagship stores was right in the middle of the mall. This decreased walkability and views throughout. Fashion District did well to put its biggest retailers on its ends, opening up much more of its interior space, which consequently swelled with natural light let in from the skylights. Where not lit naturally, the interior sported lights that shifted colors for added artistic flourish.

The presence of local art further brightens the building. The main lobby shimmers with hundreds of multicolored ornaments which create waves and ripples in the texture of the lofty walls from which they hang. While passing by an interactive installation made up of sequins that change color when turned and a professionally curated art gallery, Lance said, “The developers commissioned many local artists as a part of the Percent for Art requirement.” Other unique pieces of art and artistic features reflective of Philadelphia’s diverse culture can be discovered throughout the entire mall.

In addition to the art are the usual mall amenities such as dining options and retail stores, but also the more unique additions of a movie theatre, bowling alley, music venue, and local Philadelphia businesses. Lance says of the AMC theatres, Round1 bowling and amusement, and the City Winery music venue: “The sound engineering in those facilities is really impressive. The movie theatres are fully soundproofed. It was really pleasing because you could walk in there with noisy construction happening throughout the building and it would go dead quiet. For the musical venue they actually built a free-floating ceiling held up with isolating springs to help hold the sound within. And the bowling alley, which is adjacent to the movie theatre and above other spaces, has thick floors of wood trusses, about two feet deep, and several inches of sound-killing rigid foam to help manage the thunderous noise of bowling balls.” Within these venues, it seems that there will be no competition across acoustic environments.

A rich diversity was on display during opening day, as well. There were suited stakeholders, construction workers in high-visibility vests and hardhats, employees in their store’s apparel, and eager customers from all over Philly. But an excitement ran through all of the mall’s first guests as they enjoyed all of Fashion District’s features.

Hill International was excited to participate in this hometown project. “I think this will be a really positive thing for the city,” says Lance. “All the features are great and useful for shopping, eating, and entertainment. The architecture really makes the place more welcoming to pedestrians and opens the interior. Given the efforts to execute this project successfully, this will not just be a mall—it will be a fun and convenient place for people to congregate and spend time together.”

Such exciting and meaningful projects are the reality at Hill International. Enthusiastic engineering, program management, project management, construction management, construction inspection, contract administration, cost engineering, estimating, scheduling, project controls, and project management oversight professionals are encouraged to apply today for openings in Philadelphia and all over the world! For application information Click Here.