We apologize for the somewhat confusing headline. Philadelphia YIMBY’s First Anniversary Countdown tracks the most frequently mentioned article categories over the course of the past year. Last year’s December Development Countdown, which looked at the 31 tallest buildings under construction or proposed in the city, racked up 31 category listings during its month-long run, earning it the 24th place on the ongoing countdown. Today we look at the top three entries from the December Countdown, all located in Center City, and check in on the progress they have made so far in 2021.
#1 – Cathedral Square Phase 2, 1700 Vine Street, Logan Square
685 feet, 48 floors (tentative). Program: Unknown. Designer: Solomon Cordwell Buenz. Developer: Exeter Property Group. Status: Proposed.
The campus of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, located at 1700 Vine Street in Logan Square, spans an entire city block bounded by Race and Vine streets to the south and north and North 17th and North 18th streets to the east and west, respectively. The campus centerpiece is the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peters and Paul, a notable city landmark that was completed in 1864.
The cathedral, designed by architects Napoleon LeBrun and John Notman in stately Italian Renaissance style, is an architectural tour-de-force. The same cannot be said for the rest of the archdiocesan campus, much of which is a blight on the otherwise distinguished cityscape of the area. Parking lots comprise much of the property. The site also featuers the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, housed in a bland Modernist high-rise, as well as two (three until recently) smaller, rather undistinguished prewar buildings.
Recently, the Archdiocese has finally decided to put their centrally located property to better use that would generate income for the religious organization while also bringing much-needed density and activity to the site. Developer Exeter Property Group is replacing much of the underused territory on the block with two high-rises, cumulatively called Cathedral Square. A 245-foot-tall, 23-story Phase 1 residential building will be located at the southeast corner of the block.
The second tower, which will be located at the block northwest corner, will tentatively rise 685 feet and around 48 stories tall. Although detailed renderings are yet to be revealed, the proposal’s impressive height has earned it the number one spot on the December Countdown. While the Phase 1 tower is already under construction, no progress has yet been made at Phase 2.
#2 – W/Element Hotel, 1441 Chestnut Street
617 feet, 52 floors. Program: Hotel. Designer: Cope-Linder Architects. Developer: Chestlen Development. Status: Completed.
The tallest building constructed in Philadelphia in 2021 is the W/Element Hotel which looms 617 feet tall at 1441 Chestnut Street, just south of City Hall. When we visited the dual-branded hospitality structure, which holds both the 460-room Element Hotel and the 295-room W Hotel, the project was nearly finished, with interior work still in progress and finishing touches being put on the streetscape.
The building now stands fully completed, with the Element Hotel having opened in May and the W Hotel announcing its opening just yesterday. The hotel’s dynamic, multi-colored lighting makes for a magnificent presence on the nighttime skyline.
If you wish to look how the hotel took shape and rose into the Center City skyline, check out our special feature tracking the building’s construction over the years.
#3 – The Laurel Rittenhouse, 1911 Walnut Street, Rittenhouse Square
599 feet, 48 floors. Program: Residential (rental and condo). Designer: Solomon Cordwell Buenz. Developer: Southern Land Company. Status: Under construction.
In contrast to the lack of dramatic progress at the prior entries, over the past half year, the story of the third-place contender, The Laurel Rittenhouse at 1911 Walnut Street in Rittenhouse Square has been all about rapid construction. When we visited the site during the December Countdown, the tower’s concrete structure stood 16 stories tall. Today, the 599-foot-tall, 48-story skyscraper is nearly completely topped out and features prominently on the skyline.