In 1889, a major project in Center City changed the way commuters had traveled all over the city. The project, Broad Street Station, included a large viaduct above the city streets with eight tracks and a shed leading to the street just to the west of City Hall. Since the project was demolished by 1953, the former site of the so-called “Chinese Wall” lead to many new developments that boosted the skyline, such as the Mellon Bank Center. Now, 2301 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, a new office and residential tower planned to rise to 303 feet, will sit on one of the last available parcels at the former Chinese Wall.
Though the Chinese Wall is long gone, the foundation of the wall still shows up in certain areas of the city. From 20th Street to the Schuylkill River, there is a slim stretch of unused land where the wall once stood. The western portion of the strip extends on an angle due to the railroad to the north, leaving plenty of room for a new tower. A part of the current site next to the railroad sits at a lower elevation, designated as a flood area, but when the tower starts construction that area will be raised to street level, allowing the tower to grow from the ground level.
The shape of the planned mixed-use tower is like no other in Philadelphia, which will stand out with its bulbous ends along with its fantastic cladding. Viewed from the north and south, the building appears long and flat with curves at the ends, but when viewed from John F. Kennedy Boulevard above 22nd Street, it will look like a modern Flatiron Building. The unique shape features a west face shaped by two round forms popping out of the tower and an east face that features only one round facet. The crown of the tower connects the east curve to the northwest curve, with another curve popping up on the top, forming a stepped crown. The tower also has curves on the north and south face, but rather than popping out they push inside the shape of the tower to allow balconies for the residential floors. The building will feature bronze mullions as the panels on every floor meet at mid-points, forming a staggered facade pattern.
2301 John F. Kennedy Boulevard sits in a rapidly ascending part of the city, where several high-rise projects are currently in progress or are in the planning stages. Across the viaduct to the north, the two-tower Riverwalk complex is well under construction. A 29-story tower is planned two blocks to the east at 33 North 22nd Street. More projects are currently on the drawing boards.
The tower is expected to be completed by 2024.