Meet The Man Who Transformed 2701 Girard Avenue

w. girard ave. landmark – st. augustines becomes the north abbey

We wanted to give a big shout out to Ian Smith of Ian Smith Design Group for taking on the task of transforming 2701 Girard Avenue from a building designed for religious worship into the beautiful apartments they are today. 2701 Girard Avenue’s imposing architectural features crucial to the structural integrity of the building & soaring open spaces coupled with unusually shaped & oriented windows posed a unique set of challenges for a residential conversion. With a critical eye & a highly creative approach Ian Smith left no corner of the building untouched resulting in large, mostly multi level, highly functional & far from cookie cutter apartments. Head over to Ian Smiths website to see more of his work!

ian smith on designing the abbey

“The Abbey is a wonderful architectural artifact that can be best described as self-deterministic three dimensional puzzle that returns life to a 124 year old anchor building. One of the more complicated challenges was determining the alignment of the apartment units with the available windows in the exterior walls. The solution produced uniquely composed layouts for each unit. The plans only achieved two identical units out of the sixteen squeezed into the adapted stone masonry structure. The most notable features are the preserved decorative structural and church architectural elements throughout the complex. Tenants are granted an up close look at the large timber frame brackets of which they get to walk under when traveling to the 2nd floor apartments. The interior views are also accompanied by ornamental pilasters distributed along the communal stairs and access corridors. Two tenants will have a unique divider, the two ends of the plaster surface gothic archway.  The best way to describe this architectural feature is a clustered gothic column shaft; it looks like it punches down through the ceilings and floors. Three other lucky tenants get to live with the typically out of reach iron medallions that are a part of the church roof structure tension system. The medallions are suspended in the middle of a double height living room space for these units. They are just high enough to be out of reach for most, and just out of reach from the upper level bridge connecting the two sides of the 2nd floor.”

photos of the abbey