October 7, 2019 | DesignPhiladelphia, 2019 Festival

Coscia Moos and Keast & Hood have come together outside of the typical project design setting to partner on a maritime themed installation, titled “Expanse”. The partnership originated during the firm’s collaboration on a recent adaptive re-use project in Philadelphia. Partnering on an installation for DesignPhiladelphia gave both firms a chance to grow their relationship beyond traditional project constraints and charette through a totally different design process.


As designers, Coscia Moos valued this opportunity to break out of standard building project constraints and architect role to physically create an immersive visitor experience at an intimate scale. For the structural engineers at Keast & Hood, it was an exciting opportunity to be involved in the design and concept side of a project. Leaders of both firms enjoyed giving junior members of the staff the opportunity to truly take ownership of a project from start to finish and present themselves on behalf of the company. 

“Teaming with Keast & Hood gave us a great opportunity to design and build an installation that visitors could walk through in order to fully appreciate. Our goal for the installation was for visitors to experience the design from both inside and out, grant them a private moment, and leave them with a renewed sense of awareness of their surroundings.” – Katie Burrell, Project Manager, Coscia Moos Architecture.


From the onset of the project both firms were equally committed to the success of the design. CMA leveraged their creative design approach, excellent organization and scheduling skills to keep the project on track with weekly check in meetings and setting milestones during the project timeline. Keast & Hood utilized their project experience and constantly considered constructability and cost throughout the process. Both firms approached this opportunity with the seriousness of a regular project, holding a site visit, creating a project schedule, ordering material samples, a little value engineering and finally, constructing the installation. However, collaboration in all aspects of design was the main goal of the partnership. It was clear from the beginning of this process that neither firm would be taking a back seat on either aesthetics or structure. Keast & Hood came to the table with their own concept ideas and input on everything from colors to circulation.

“We first came into this project thinking we would just design the structure but were pleasantly surprised by how much CMA wanted and valued our input. We don’t usually get to provide feedback on the design decisions outside of how structure may affect it during a normal project. This was an awesome rapid design and build experience” - Justin Meillier, Project Manager, Keast & Hood

The installation was inspired by the maritime surroundings of the Delaware River. Looking to the design of the nautilus shell, often considered a symbol of unending growth and expansion, the design team connected with the shell’s unique combination of beauty and precision and message of expansion. Combining Coscia Moos’ architectural minds and Keast & Hood’s structural expertise, the design ideas and possibilities expanded beyond what either would have been capable of alone. By reinterpreting common dock and pier materials, rope and wood, the team designed an installation that would invite interaction and exploration. Rope is transformed beyond its traditional use, held in tension with the wooden structure, to create a space evoking the nautilus shell’s spiral. The installation invites participants to wind their way inward, to the solitary center of the shell, where a porthole offers a chance to see through the murky depths of the underwater gradient. Along the spiraling path outward, the view opens up and allows the participant to emerge with a renewed sense of connection to the surface and appreciation for the water.

Visit the installation at Cherry Street Pier during DesignPhiladelphia October 3rd - 13th 11AM - 8PM.

Project Team:

Coscia Moos Architecture

Katie Burrell
Telsa Love
Leann Dreher
Michelle Simone
Kyle Taveira
Sarah Johnson
Morgan Immerman


Keast & Hood

Justin Meillier
Laura Ryan
Amelia Popovic
Thomas Magrino
Bob Boris


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