The 5th place on Philly YIMBY’s December 2021 Development Countdown goes to the 513-foot-tall, 34-story tower proposed at 3001 John F. Kennedy Boulevard in University City, West Philadelphia. Designed by Practice for Architecture and Urbanism and developed by Brandywine Realty Trust and Drexel University, the red-clad high-rise will be the latest addition to the $3.5-billion, multi-building Schuylkill Yards development currently in progress in University City, adjacent to the Drexel campus. The tower at 3001 JFK Boulevard will feature 930,000 square feet of floor space, mostly office with 6,600 square feet allocated to retail, and will aim for LEED Silver certification.
Planned for the northern fringe of University City, the building will be the most dramatic addition to the local skyline since the crystalline Cira Centre and curvy FMC Tower opened in 2005 and 2016, respectively. However, while Cira and FMC captivate the viewer with their dramatic forms, their blue-glass facade, high-quality as it may be, is rather conventional. In contrast, the tower at 3001 JFK Boulevard will stand out thanks to its massing as much as its eclectic facade.
The design derives its triple-stacked configuration from its site conditions. The lower level projects eastward and is angled to match the site footprint, itself dictated by the fluting of the adjacent railroad lines. In turn, the top section is cantilevered westward over the adjacent High Line Plaza, which runs along an elevated train trestle and will feature landscaping. The upper cantilever plays off the eastern setback of the sister building planned at 3025 John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
The tower’s red cladding pays homage to the red hues of Philadelphia’s traditional brick, terra cotta, and brownstone palette. As such, the building will be both uniquely contextual while adding a touch of fresh air to the city’s blue glass-dominated skyline. Dramatic arches offer another connection to the city’s traditional built forms.
Our recent site visit revealed that construction work has not yet begun, as expected since no construction permits have yet been issued.
We hope to see further progress at 3001 John F. Kennedy Boulevard in the near future, given the building’s vital role for further development of University City as well as its promise of an exciting presence on the Philadelphia skyline.