Urban Outfitters' Anthropologie Headquarters – Philadelphia, PA


In 2004, Urban Outfitters began a massive renovation of multiple dilapidated buildings in Philadelphia’s abandoned navy yards as part of an ongoing plan to consolidate their operations into a single campus. Building 18, formerly a metal foundry at The Navy Yard, has been magically transformed into inspiring, creative and light-filled work spaces for their Anthropologie brand.


One of the biggest challenges was providing a design that met the National Park Service’s stringent standards for historic renovation. Building 18 was a very ornate, wonderful piece of historical architecture and the only navy yard building with a preexisting open glazing system over the length of the building.

Attaching the massive metal skylight structure to the curbing and integrating with the roof posed a special engineering challenge. The existing roof-deck with underlying concrete roof panels was restored to original historical specifications. Some were restored and the others replaced depending on the preexisting condition. “These buildings can be difficult and this particular one was slated for demolition, so the restoration was immense,” said David Ziel, Urban Outfitters chief development officer. “Such a project requires a great deal of discussion, communication and top-notch engineering.”

In a business where creativity is the driving force, building a great working environment is crucial to attracting and retaining the best talent. An inspiring space bathed in natural light was extremely important for morale, productivity and product development, where viewing true fabric color is crucial. The problem was how to maximize the daylight opening but reduce glare and solar heat gain to make a comfortable working environment.

After: The dilapidated old building 18 was transformed into an inspiring, creative and light-filled work space. The National Park Service uses this building project as a prototype for exemplary historical restoration.


Wasco by VELUX’s Pinnacle 350 Structural Ridge System was chosen for its large span capability, variable-pitch hinge design, and fast on-site assembly and installation. “The stunning skylight was the predominant feature, which raised the design to a whole other level,” David Ziel said.

Wasco by VELUX developed a custom tinted glazing system utilizing a combination of Solarban 70 LowE bronze and clear laminated glass to provide all the positive benefits of natural daylight without suffering the undesirable effects such as excessive heat gain, glare and fading.

“The Wasco by VELUX group was fabulous” David Ziel said. “Usually, a project of this magnitude is a real nightmare — many companies don’t even want to touch such a large project. It was a home run on every level. They even beat our very tight deadline! With beautiful common areas, courtyards and college campus like public spaces this building is my personal favorite on the campus.”

The National Park Service uses this building project as a prototype for exemplary historical restoration.

Pinnacle 350 Structural Ridge: 22' × 340', 22' × 106', 22' × 148'. Glazing: 1-1/16" I.G., 1/4" Bronze Tempered Solarban 70 XL (2) over 5/16" Clear H.S. Laminated. Finish: Kynar 500 Quaker Bronze.

Pinnacle 350 Double Pitch: 10' × 20', 11' × 26', 11' × 14'. Glazing: 1-1/16" IG, 1/4" Clear Tempered Solarban 70 XL (2) over 5/16" Clear H.S. Laminated. Finish: Kynar 500 Sandstone.

MSR Architecture

MSR creates exceptional architecture that is responsible and enduring. We seek to enrich lives and the environment through design.

We create beautiful places that are environmentally responsible and have enduring value: high-performing buildings that are expressly right for their time, place and function. We measure performance comprehensively, considering economic, social, cultural, technical and environmental factors.