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-   -   PHILADELPHIA | Lowrise/General Developments Thread (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread.php?t=160247)

McBane Apr 17, 2018 4:53 PM

A couple of things to note regarding the United Way Building:

1) A tower? No, it's within the zoning overly, so nothing over 150 feet, which is essentially 15 stories. I'm not sure it's worthwhile to knock down an 8 story building to build 15. If it was 2 or 3 stories yes or if there was no zoning overlay and Pearl wanted to build something in the range of 20-30 stories, then again yes. In any case, it will be difficult to demolish this building because.....

2) Unless you read the article, you may be surprised that this forgettable building from the 70's is listed "on the Philadelphia’s register of historic buildings means city’s Historical Commission would have to approve any plans involving major alterations." Ugh. Really? WTF makes this building historical? Shit like this boggles my mind.

3) The historical designation is really problematic because the worst thing this building has going for it is its lack of interaction with the street. The best thing Pearl could do is open up the ground floor to create retail space along the Parkway. Of course that would require major exterior alterations.

4) I agree it's a great location for a residential building but again, Pearl is severely limited by what it can do to this building's exterior. I don't see this building working as residential without some serious external renovations (a la the PMC's Franklin Plaza reskinning).

mja Apr 17, 2018 5:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by McBane (Post 8157812)
A couple of things to note regarding the United Way Building:2) Unless you read the article, you may be surprised that this forgettable building from the 70's is listed "on the Philadelphia’s register of historic buildings means city’s Historical Commission would have to approve any plans involving major alterations." Ugh. Really? WTF makes this building historical? Shit like this boggles my mind.

For some additional perspective on this: http://planphilly.com/eyesonthestree...d-way-building

Quote:

The United Fund Building, as it was called when it opened in 1971, is the wok of Philadelphia firm Mitchell/Giurgola Associates (now MGA Partners) and it is, but for the architects who love it, an prime architectural underdog. Though it’s relatively young, the building is considered an important example of Philadelphia School modernism, and was designated historic by the city in 2010.

McBane Apr 17, 2018 5:14 PM

^ Thanks for sharing, but meh. Still doesn't seem like something worth preserving forever (in theory). And certainly doesn't rise to the same standard as places like City Hall, Christ Church, or the Union League. Or, for that matter, the 19th century buildings along Jewlers Row.

mja Apr 17, 2018 5:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by McBane (Post 8157836)
^ Thanks for sharing, but meh. Still doesn't seem like something worth preserving forever (in theory). And certainly doesn't rise to the same standard as places like City Hall, Christ Church, or the Union League. Or, for that matter, the 19th century buildings along Jewlers Row.

I'm no architect, but I know this building is extremely well-liked by those in the field, as you can see in the article. I believe there are even architectural textbook chapters that are dedicated in part to it. I admit that I remain underwhelmed by the building at a glance, but as a layman, if you step back and consider the building in the context of an architect's gushing praise, it becomes easier to see what's historically remarkable about the building. I think the issue is that many of us were raised surrounded by buildings made of concrete and have a strong bias against them, hence our incredulity at a building like this getting a historic designation.

allovertown Apr 17, 2018 6:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by McBane (Post 8157836)
^ Thanks for sharing, but meh. Still doesn't seem like something worth preserving forever (in theory). And certainly doesn't rise to the same standard as places like City Hall, Christ Church, or the Union League. Or, for that matter, the 19th century buildings along Jewlers Row.

I don't think it's sound policy to only historically preserve a handful of the most incredibly historic buildings in the city.

I do however think there should ideally be levels to this process. Some buildings should never be destroyed no matter what. other buildings should maybe be provisionally persevered. I think a great example is those beautiful apartment buildings on Walnut or Chestnut in west Philly that they tore down for some crappy paneled bullshit. Those buildings are not of such great importance that they should be preserved forever, but to tear them down the new building should bring in X amount of jobs or X amount of tax dollars. Or perhaps have a design that is judged to be exemplary by a board of architects.

It seems to me a binary yes or no is just not a good system.

Regarding this building in particular, I think it's the type of building you could walk by every day and never notice. But if you actually take the time to study it, it's an incredible building. As you mention yourself, it is not as though you can build much taller here anyway. The park like area it meets in front wouldn't work well in most places but is well suited here. The small section of the building that does abut the parkway is not great at ground level. But perhaps that can be improved without compromising the incredible look that wall has from a distance.

Overall I'm looking forward to some TLC and perhaps some modem urban design principles being applied to an underappreciated architectural treasure.

jsbrook Apr 17, 2018 7:19 PM

I think it's hard to have a sliding scale as to historic designations. But better use can be optimized in other ways. Changes to the abatement could be one way. The abatement could be on a sliding scale. The most property tax abatement could be reserved for new construction takes out a vacant lot, surface parking lot, or garage. Somewhat less of abatement for adaptive reuse of significant buildings in disrepair. The least for demolition of old, historically significant buildings that are replaced with new construction. The last category could have further exceptions, like more abatement goes to a building that houses X or more jobs. A shiny new building that has some good anchor tenants and brings a lot of jobs can be an acceptable tradeoff for demolition of our history (where undesignated). But some of these demolitions to make way for garbage structures that don't materially add to our city as far as economic vitality or much of anything else are disheartening. This obviously needs refinement, and the results of Rebecca Rhyhart's study on the impact of the abatement and its continued need will be instructive.

Quote:

Originally Posted by allovertown (Post 8157960)
I don't think it's sound policy to only historically preserve a handful of the most incredibly historic buildings in the city.

I do however think there should ideally be levels to this process. Some buildings should never be destroyed no matter what. other buildings should maybe be provisionally persevered. I think a great example is those beautiful apartment buildings on Walnut or Chestnut in west Philly that they tore down for some crappy paneled bullshit. Those buildings are not of such great importance that they should be preserved forever, but to tear them down the new building should bring in X amount of jobs or X amount of tax dollars. Or perhaps have a design that is judged to be exemplary by a board of architects.

It seems to me a binary yes or no is just not a good system.

Regarding this building in particular, I think it's the type of building you could walk by every day and never notice. But if you actually take the time to study it, it's an incredible building. As you mention yourself, it is not as though you can build much taller here anyway. The park like area it meets in front wouldn't work well in most places but is well suited here. The small section of the building that does abut the parkway is not great at ground level. But perhaps that can be improved without compromising the incredible look that wall has from a distance.

Overall I'm looking forward to some TLC and perhaps some modem urban design principles being applied to an underappreciated architectural treasure.


Baconboy007 Apr 17, 2018 8:22 PM

The Gallery Roof
 
Looks like they have been taking away the roof on part of the building. Would this just be to replace it or to build more floors?

https://i.imgur.com/QUdC1mA.jpg

McBane Apr 17, 2018 8:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by allovertown (Post 8157960)
I don't think it's sound policy to only historically preserve a handful of the most incredibly historic buildings in the city.

I do however think there should ideally be levels to this process. Some buildings should never be destroyed no matter what. other buildings should maybe be provisionally persevered. I think a great example is those beautiful apartment buildings on Walnut or Chestnut in west Philly that they tore down for some crappy paneled bullshit. Those buildings are not of such great importance that they should be preserved forever, but to tear them down the new building should bring in X amount of jobs or X amount of tax dollars. Or perhaps have a design that is judged to be exemplary by a board of architects.

It seems to me a binary yes or no is just not a good system.

Regarding this building in particular, I think it's the type of building you could walk by every day and never notice. But if you actually take the time to study it, it's an incredible building. As you mention yourself, it is not as though you can build much taller here anyway. The park like area it meets in front wouldn't work well in most places but is well suited here. The small section of the building that does abut the parkway is not great at ground level. But perhaps that can be improved without compromising the incredible look that wall has from a distance.

Overall I'm looking forward to some TLC and perhaps some modem urban design principles being applied to an underappreciated architectural treasure.

I agree 100%.

And to be clear, I never said it was an ugly building that should be torn down. But it seems the historical designation has nothing to do with history and everything to do with subjective arguments related to the building's appearance. To me, there's nothing extraordinary about this building that merits perpetual preservation.

The bigger issue for me is that this building does nothing at the ground level but the historical designation makes it very difficult to change that. It may as well be a blank wall facing the Parkway. Is preserving the sanctity of this building more important than allowing a developer to make major changes that could liven up the area (e.g., carving out ground floor retail/dining space)? Lord knows the Parkway can use it, no offense to the Subway and TGI Friday's nearby.

GtownFriend Apr 17, 2018 8:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Baconboy007 (Post 8158145)
Looks like they have been taking away the roof on part of the building. Would this just be to replace it or to build more floors?

That is where the theater is supposed to go. In the renderings it shows an extra floor on the western section. They took a bunch of HVAC equipment off a while a go. Been wondering when there would be signs of construction. :cheers:

GtownFriend Apr 17, 2018 8:45 PM

Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics Getting Very Close
http://www.ocfrealty.com/naked-phill...-getting-close
http://www.ocfrealty.com/wp-content/...0-c-center.jpg

Capsule F Apr 17, 2018 8:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PHL10 (Post 8148958)
So you have your satisfaction, I did see it. But despite that, we can still be friends as far as I'm concerned. Peace.:)

"Bridge and Tunnel" experienced an adequate semantic shift, and is an appropriate way to refer to the aforementioned crowd and era in Old City. So you are the dumb wrong one.

Capsule F Apr 17, 2018 9:22 PM

My last comment was mad late to the game, however here is a cool picture from today:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/skyscraperp...417_170512.jpg

shadowbat2 Apr 17, 2018 10:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Baconboy007 (Post 8158145)
Looks like they have been taking away the roof on part of the building. Would this just be to replace it or to build more floors?

Thanks for that! I was wondering when they were going to start with razing/raising the roof on that. Was trying to watch via the East market cam, but it's still stuck on 4/15 for some reason....

jsbrook Apr 18, 2018 12:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Baconboy007 (Post 8158145)
Looks like they have been taking away the roof on part of the building. Would this just be to replace it or to build more floors?

https://i.imgur.com/QUdC1mA.jpg

The Easternmost and Westernmost buildings can accommodate towers. It's only the center building that cannot. PREIT is outfitting them to position them for a tower build when they line up the right partner. To my knowledge, they hadn't done so yet, but if there is something in the works n the closer term, that would be great!

Jayfar Apr 18, 2018 2:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jsbrook (Post 8158497)
The Easternmost and Westernmost buildings can accommodate towers. It's only the center building that cannot. PREIT is outfitting them to position them for a tower build when they line up the right partner. To my knowledge, they hadn't done so yet, but if there is something in the works n the closer term, that would be great!

I thought maybe they're just raising the roof to better accommodate the movie theater auditoriums. Is that the section we're looking at here?

GtownFriend Apr 18, 2018 2:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jayfar (Post 8158589)
I thought maybe they're just raising the roof to better accommodate the movie theater auditoriums. Is that the section we're looking at here?

Yes. The locations for the possible future towers are the somewhat rounded sections on either side of the skylight, in the middle of this photo.

JurassicPhilly Apr 18, 2018 1:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by McBane (Post 8157836)
^ Thanks for sharing, but meh. Still doesn't seem like something worth preserving forever (in theory). And certainly doesn't rise to the same standard as places like City Hall, Christ Church, or the Union League. Or, for that matter, the 19th century buildings along Jewlers Row.

Am I alone in not being especially fond of City Hall? I like the idea of a tower with William Penn atop it, but I really don't care for the style of the building. It just seems anachronistic. I wish it could be redone in an Art Deco or classical motif but I know there is a zero percent chance of that happening and the vast majority of people would oppose it.

iamrobk Apr 18, 2018 1:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JurassicPhilly (Post 8158861)
Am I alone in not being especially fond of City Hall? I like the idea of a tower with William Penn atop it, but I really don't care for the style of the building. It just seems anachronistic. I wish it could be redone in an Art Deco or classical motif but I know there is a zero percent chance of that happening and the vast majority of people would oppose it.

I mean, people did want to tear it down right after it was completed. But in 2018? Yeah, you might be the only one...

allovertown Apr 18, 2018 1:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JurassicPhilly (Post 8158861)
Am I alone in not being especially fond of City Hall? I like the idea of a tower with William Penn atop it, but I really don't care for the style of the building. It just seems anachronistic. I wish it could be redone in an Art Deco or classical motif but I know there is a zero percent chance of that happening and the vast majority of people would oppose it.

Are you being facetious to make a point? Serious question, I honestly can't tell.

JurassicPhilly Apr 18, 2018 1:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by allovertown (Post 8158879)
Are you being facetious to make a point? Serious question, I honestly can't tell.

No I'm being serious I just don't really like City Hall, apart from the concept of William Penn atop a tower. It's too busy for me. I prefer clean lines and simpler plans.

I know people could argue that Art Decco and Classical would also be anachronistic but those styles are timeless to me, whereas the late empire style or whatever City Hall is appears dated.


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