Cecil Baker helped form Baker Rothschild Horn and Blyth in 1972. The architectural firm’s first project, Queen Village Mews, was awarded a Progressive Architecture Design Award. Success was short lived. 1972 was the year of the energy crisis, the year Time magazine asked on it’s cover: “Is the U.S. going broke?”
The four architects pooled their resources and became real estate developers. Over the next 10 years BRHB Developers built more than 270 residential units in a variety of projects across Philadelphia’s troubled neighborhoods. The firm’s projects included new construction and repurposed industrial structures. Markets ranged from HUD housing to high end homes and condominiums. The work was crafted at a time when the architect’s professional organization frowned on entrepreneurial work undertaken by architects. Nevertheless, BRHB Developers’ projects were widely published in Europe, Japan and South America. From this seminal experience Cecil Baker evolved his practical aesthetic, best summarized as “spending your money on the sunny side of the drywall.”
Cecil Baker’s real estate holdings allowed him the equilibrium to return to his original architectural yearnings: thus was born Cecil Baker & Associates in 1982. The firm grew steadily over time and became Cecil Baker + Partners in 2006 with the addition of Nancy Bastian and Eric Leighton as partners. Chris Blakelock was added as a partner in 2009.
Cecil Baker + Partners today is a thriving architecture firm in Center City Philadelphia. With a practice that spans a wide variety of clients and project types, Cecil Baker has always had a strong affinity for housing, and the firm’s portfolio reflects that. Recent projects include Philadelphia’s newest high-rise condominiums: 500 Walnut, a 26-story luxury high-rise with 38 dwelling units overlooking Independence Mall, and One Riverside, a 21-story high-end condominium building located adjacent the Schuylkill River Park in the Fitler Square neighborhood. Other residential projects include high end single-family residential, as well as affordable and market rate multi-family housing. Institutional, civic and governmental work rounds out the practice.
Cecil Baker + Partners’ designs have received over fifty local, regional, and national accolades, including awards from the Preservation Alliance, Progressive Architecture, Architectural Record, the U.S. Department of HUD, the American Institute of Architects, the Pennsylvania Society of Architects, the PA Historical and Museum Commission and others. The firm’s designs have been published in the U.S., Europe, Japan and South America.