A few days ago, Philly YIMBY shared a construction update for The Standard At Philadelphia, a 209-foot-tall, 19-story residential tower under construction at 119 South 31st Street in University City, West Philadelphia. Designed by CUBE 3 and developed by Landmark Properties, the 362,117-square-foot structure will rise from a narrow, through-block lot stretching between South 30th and South 31st streets, and will house 280 residential units geared toward university students. Our recent visit has revealed that on-site demolition has been completed and foundation work is currently in progress. Today we share another look at the construction progress and how it affects the unusual and varied conditions that flank the site on three sides.
As mentioned earlier, over the past few months, the five-story, 75,200-square-foot building that formerly stood at the site has been completely demolished (you can read more about the structure and see it from various angles in our October article). When viewed from Highline Field, a green space located to the west of the site and named after the elevated train trestle that runs above it, one can see all the way across the narrow side to the double-decker South 30th Street at the site’s eastern end. The temporary construction condition exposes the street’s two-level configuration, which is highly unusual for Philadelphia yet is somewhat more common in Chicago.
On the south side of the site, we can see that lot-wall windows have already been blocked at the two-story Translational Research Laboratory, a University of Pennsylvania facility located at 125 South 31st Street. Evidently, the building’s original designers took a gamble by placing windows on the structure’s northern lot wall, which once faced a parking lot at the western side of the currently under-construction project. Although the tenant surely misses the light and air the windows provided for the structure until recently, at least they were able to take advantage of the site condition for years.
Our photos also captured a close-up look of the mural on the north side of the site, painted on the lot wall of the low-rise facility at 3000 Chestnut Street. Lot wall murals are a cherished feature of Philadelphia’s built landscape, and it is bittersweet to lose these murals to new development, with the knowledge that a new structure will bring effective use and vibrancy to a former surface lot at the expense of public art.
Our photos caught this bittersweet composition at the site of The Standard, where a boater throwing a lifesaver into the water forms an artistic backdrop for construction equipment that will soon assemble a building that will block the artwork from view. Although no lifesaver will be available to rescue the mural, nor do we oppose the new building, we do wish architects were more mindful and inventive when it comes to preservation and incorporation of murals into new development, whether preserved in view with outdoor plazas (as is planned at Mural West in North Philadelphia), or incorporated into building lobbies or other indoor or partially enclosed amenities or facilities.
At a more whimsical scale, we also wish that the project had incorporated a public green space in the building’s mid-section, likely in the form of a narrow walkway and planted strip atop a setback, running along the tower slab’s southern face and connecting via a pair of skybridges and stairs to the elevated Cira Green park to the east and the Highline Park to the west. Challenging as such a project would have been, if completed as described above, the novel public space would have no comparable counterparts even in New York City, home of the High Line itself.