A recent site visit by Philadelphia YIMBY revealed that residential conversion work appears to be complete at The Terrace on 18th at 1776 Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Logan Square, Center City. The 267-foot-tall, 27-story high-rise was built in 1964 and previously known as Embassy Suites Philadelphia Center City. The development was gradually overhauled over the course of the past year from hotel into a 288-unit rental apartment building, and upon our site visit the development appeared as complete, with no visible of signs of construction remaining. The Pearl Properties website indicates that the building is currently available for lease.
The Terrace on 18th offers wedge-shaped apartments, a layout resulting from owing to the building’s unique shape, with a balcony in each unit. The 12,500-square-foot amenity package includes a two-story lobby lounge, valet parking, laundry, and more. Rents start at $1,995.
The Brutalist-styled high-rise has long been a staple of the Philadelphia skyline. Designed by the architecture firm of Stonorov & Haws, which was also behind local high-rise buildings such as 1300-10 Lombard Street and the Southwark Towers, the structure dates more than two decades older than the iconic Liberty Place skyscrapers and nearly half as old as the rarefied tower of City Hall itself.
Despite its understated appearance and relatively modest height (the setbacked, granite-clad slab of Three Logan Square looms nearly three times as tall directly to the south), the structure is notable for its distinctive appearance. The multi-sided, nearly cylindrical pillar, where flat windowless panels alternate with balcony bays, can hardly be mistaken for any other skyscraper in the city. The building’s presence is amplified by its prominent location on the Parkway, which makes it visible from classic Philadelphia postcard views such as from Love Park looking toward the Philadelphia Art Museum or from the Museum steps looking toward the skyline and City Hall.
Arguably, the building’s decidedly Mid-century exterior aesthetic is quite dated, and not necessarily for the better. On the other hand, this same aesthetic lends it a special charm, where the building is a breath of fresh air among Center City’s seemingly interchangeable rectilinear Modernist office boxes. The building’s appearance is plain, no-frills, and somewhat gritty, yet is nevertheless eye-catching and singular, mirroring a character not dissimilar to that of Philadelphia itself. Similarly, the building’s address of 1776 Benjamin Franklin Parkway is so patriotic-sounding that it borders on parody, yet it is as distinctively Philadelphian as can be.
As such, although a complete exterior recladding may have yielded a more refined design, ultimately we are glad that the developers opted to keep the appearance of this unlikely skyline staple (as we are glad that they opted to maintain the open-air dining establishment atop the podium, a longtime local favorite). With its new function concealed within a familiar form, The Terrace on 18th will continue to grace classic Philadelphia views for years to come, even as they are augmented by new skyline additions such as the mixed-use Two Cathedral Square tower planned two blocks to the north at 227 North 18th Street.