In the 1950s, Philadelphia was starting to see a rise in new development as developers focused on Center City, particularly after the demolition of the “Chinese Wall” opened up a large swath of space from City Hall to the Schuylkill River. A wild proposal called the City Tower was revealed in the late 1950s at 1400 Arch Street, where the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building currently stands. The 30-story tower would have stood just to the north of City Hall. The tower was designed by architect Louis I. Kahn in a dramatic Futurist style, as the building’s design and form were way ahead of its time.
The floor plates would have consisted of three hexagons joined together. The floors take on different angles as the tower climbs to the sky. Philadelphia was the hometown of Louis Kahn and he had produced a bold design that followed his belief in structural expression. The structure would have consisted of precast elements, and the intersections would have decorative joints that appeared like connectors of a K’NEX construction set. The cladding would have consisted of glass and metal, with the glass having a very dark shade. Metal louvers placed throughout the skin would have allowed the tower to manipulate and play with natural light during the day.
If the tower was built by its projected completion date in the mid-1960s, the public’s eye would be effectively drawn to the tower as the contrasting dark glass and bright metal would call for attention and its zigzag shape would further add to the visual appeal. Even if the tower appeared in the current skyline, it still would have greatly enhanced the city’s collection of unique architecture. It would also share slight similarities with Liberty Place and the Comcast Technology Center, as both feature angled structures in their designs.