The Philadelphia skyline consists of a number of towers that shape the city’s image, with the Liberty Place in Center City towers among its key features. One Liberty Place and Two Liberty Place, addressed at 1650 Market Street and 50 South 16th Street, are located two blocks away from City Hall. The complex, which also includes a shopping center and a hotel, was designed by Helmut Jahn of Murphy/Jahn (recently renamed to Jahn/) and developed by Willard G. Rouse III of Rouse and Associates, which had eventually evolved into Liberty Property Trust and developed both of the Comcast towers. In this feature, Philadelphia YIMBY presents detailed skyline massings of the 1987 Liberty Place iteration.
Articles by Thomas Koloski
The Virgin Hotels proposal at 500 South Broad Street in Rittenhouse Square, Center City, has been revamped with a new design. Designed by SITIO Architects + Urbanism and developed by The Badger Group and Goldenberg Group LLC, the 468-unit development now known as Broad and Lombard will now boast a tower that will stand 542 feet (alternately pictured at 573 feet) and 43 stories tall. The project involves a renovation of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health Building, with work helmed by Voith and MacTavish Architects. The new tower will echo the design of the Public Health Building and will stand tall in the Philadelphia skyline.
During the 1960s and 1970s, multiple developments with massive amounts of office space, occupied by banking firms in particular, were constructed in Center City Philadelphia. Most of these developments featured a light brown Brutalist exterior with contrasting dark glass. Among the first such structures built was One Meridian Plaza, located at 1416 South Penn Square, which stood 492 feet and 38 stories. Designed by Vincent Kling & Associates (later known as KlingStubbins, now part of JACOBS) and developed by the Girard Bank and Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance, the tower started construction in 1968 and was completed in 1972, and featured the light brown stone cladding commonly seen during the period, along with rows of dark glass leading up to the bay windows at the top. The skyscraper eventually met its tragic demise in 1991, and was deconstructed in the following years in a process that YIMBY revisits in today’s feature.
Center City West is a section of Center City located roughly between 21st, Chestnut, and Arch streets and the Schuylkill River. For decades, the neighborhood was comprised primarily of parking lots, yet in recent years the area has been on the rise with a large number of projects that have recently been completed, underway, and proposed. The largest developments that have originally been completed in the neighborhood are the PECO Building, completed in 1970, and the Aramark Headquarters which renovated the structure of an existing building at 2400 Market Street in 2019. With Aramark relocating its headquarters to the neighborhood, the company saw the potential of the area’s growth. 2222 Market Street, the first development of the new construction wave was revealed in 2019, and is currently underway.
The Liberty Place complex, which consists of One Liberty Place and Two Liberty Place are located at 1650 Market Street and 50 South 16th Street in Center City, has anchored the Philadelphia skyline ever since it was completed in 1990. However, at one point, the final form of the buildings was meant to look very different. The groundbreaking project was designed by Helmut Jahn of Murphy/Jahn (now known as Jahn/), who had hand-drawn a massive quantity of possibilities for the city block. The project was developed by Rouse and Associates, as Willard G. Rouse, who was adamant about raising the skyline above Philadelphia City Hall as he believed that William Penn himself would appreciate the city’s progress. In this feature, Philadelphia YIMBY shares our latest skyline massings of a heavily detailed model of the 1985 iteration of Liberty Place.