July 15, 2016

Piero Lissoni Named Design Partner of AKA University City in Philly

All renderings courtesy of AKA.

AKA, a brand of luxury extended-stay lodgings and residences, has announced Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni as design partner for its latest project. Called AKA University City, the tower is located in Philadelphia and sits adjacent to the Schuylkill River. In addition to multiple floors of apartments and hotel suites, the project includes Level 28, an entire floor dedicated to health and wellness. AKA University City is part of Cira Centre South, an 830,000-square-foot mixed-use space that’s being dubbed “Philadelphia’s first vertical neighborhood.” Brandywine Realty Trust is helming the massive project with architecture firms Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and BLTa.

For AKA University City, Lissoni has been tasked with furnishing the residences and suites from top to bottom, including designing and curating upholstery, fabrics, lighting, and furniture. Over the past several months, he and his team at Lissoni Associati have been collaborating with some of Italy’s leading furniture manufacturers to hand-select products in natural materials like wool, linen, and cotton.

“We were influenced by Brandywine Realty Trust’s ‘vertical neighborhood’ concept,” says Nicoletta Canesi, partner and co-founder of Lissoni Associati. “Philadelphia is a cosmopolitan city with many influences on its architecture and design, so I wanted to bring this big-city sophistication to the apartments and public spaces. We want AKA’s guests to feel comfortable, so the furniture is clearly residential, designed by some of Italy’s most iconic designers and manufacturers, including my partner Piero Lissoni. Though I lean clearly to the modern, the selections are not cold—I always have an eye towards warmth with a little bit of whimsy.”

The residences will be located on floors 29 through 46 of the tower and will include studios and penthouses, as well as one—and two-bedroom apartments. Each residence has been outfitted with 10-foot-tall windows and wide-plank, Italian oak flooring.

“I like to work with rich, warm materials, but also throw in a little color and slickness where appropriate,” Canesi says. “For our upholstered goods, we are very fortunate to be working with some of the finest furniture textiles made, those from Kvadrat, a Danish firm, as well as some excellent soft leathers. For case goods, we’re using a lot of matte lacquer and very fine wood veneers, and also beautiful back-painted glass. These materials complement the light oak floors and stone used in the bathrooms.”

AKA University City is expected to open this autumn.

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