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Photos: Go inside the FMC Tower in University City

See the AKA suites and stunning lobbies

A lobby with wood ceilings and a smooth, curbed stone welcome desk.
Construction on the FMC Tower in University City is close to completion.
Photos by Melissa Romero

When the AKA University City suites open in about a month, it will mark the last phase of FMC Tower’s highly-anticipated vertical neighborhood on the edge of the Schuylkill River.

“We take delight that the FMC Tower will change the city’s skyline forever,” remarked Gerard Sweeney, CEO and president of Brandywine Realty Trust, whose development company has been at the helm of next-door neighbors Cira Centre and the EVO building.

A rendering of the 28th-floor amenity floor, currently under construction.
Rendering by BLT Architects

FMC and University of Pennsylvania employees have been moved into the 49-story tower—the tallest in University City—for months now, taking up 622,000 square feet of office space. All that’s really left some final glass panel installations on the west-side of the tower, and the much-touted 28th floor amenity floor, which will feature a skyline terrace, a pool, fitness center, golf simulator, media room, and more.

At a recent preview of the FMC Tower, the architects and interior designers involved with the project discussed how they strived to design a so-called vertical neighborhood and a building that served multiple purposes. One thing they knew they needed to include? Multiple lobbies: One for the AKA residences and another for the offices.

The lobby entrance to the office space in FMC Tower.

“That’s why we lifted the hemline of the building,” explains design architect Mark Shoemaker of Pelli Clarke Pelli. but it allows them to co-exist and have individual identities at the same time.”

Both lobbies are impressive in their own way. While they both feature warm, slanted wood ceilings, the AKA lobby is accented by a smooth stone welcome desk. Meanwhile, the office’s double-height entrance features views of the Center City skyline across the river.

They’re both accessible via a drive-in plaza, which design consultant Edward Asfour of Asfour Gouzy Architects says harkens back to a European piazza. “The lobbies are really an extension of the public space,” he says. “It allows for the private space to open up to the public.”

The lobby of the AKA residences.

The tower itself is unique in that despite its heavy glass paneling, it’s striving for LEED Silver certification, says BLTa’s Eric Rahe. “It may be the first tower in Philly that’s features both concrete and steel,” Rahe adds. The former is more suitable for residential and steel is ideal for commercial.

FMC Tower sits at 2929 Walnut Street on the edge of University City.

AKA extended-stay suites, which will take up the upper floors of the tower, revealed varying furnished layouts with gray and black tones, accented by colorful furniture and Flos lighting floor lamps.

“Every layout is different,” explained Nicoletti Canesi of Lissoni Architecti. “We wanted to make them different even more, with the colors and furniture so that it feels like everyone can live in different places when they come to stay.”

For Larry Korman of AKA + Korman Communities, the new suites will be the first AKA residences have been built from the ground up. Or, “really, from the sky up,” as Korman puts it.

Construction of AKA University City should finish up in about a month. Sweeney says in addition to the NYC Michelin-starred Rebel crew’s restaurant, more ground retail tenants will be announced soon.

Says Sweeney, “We want to create a sense of place, where nothing really existed before.”

FMC Tower

2929 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 Visit Website