Center City

Waldorf Astoria looking northwest. Image via Cope-Linder Architects

Looking at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Residences Once Proposed at 1441 Chestnut Street in Center City

Today’s entry in Philly YIMBY’s ongoing “unbuilt” series is the Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Residences Philadelphia, proposed at 1441 Chestnut Street in Center City, where the W/Element Hotel is now nearing completion. The 567-foot-tall, 59-story tower would have occupied the south side of the site of the former One Meridian Plaza, a 492-foot-tall office skyscraper damaged by a lethal fire in 1991 and demolished in 1999 (yesterday YIMBY covered a supertall structure proposed earlier at the site). Like the W/Element Hotel, the Waldorf Astoria iteration was also designed by Cope-Linder Architects, though the developers at the time were Mariner Commercial Properties, Inc. and Gatehouse Capital Corporation. The tower would have featured 181 hotel rooms and 126 residences.

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Center City Tower rendering with Liberty Place. Image via Kling Lindquist

A Look Back at Center City Tower, Once Planned as the City’s First Supertall Skyscraper

In the late 1990’s, a massive supertall was planned at the site of the 492-foot-tall One Meridian Plaza, an office skyscraper damaged by a fatal fire in 1991 and demolished in 1999. The proposed Center City Tower at 1414 South Penn Square in Center City would have been built where The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton and the under-construction W/Element Hotel currently stand. Designed by Kling Lindquist, the 1,050-foot tower would have become the first supertall skyscraper in Philadelphia, rather than the Comcast Technology Center, which took the title 20 years later. Notably, Comcast was also considering taking office space at Center City Tower, and the cable company’s decision to pull out of the project and to build Comcast Center at 17th and Arch Street instead was a major reason behind the supertall’s cancellation.

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New Massing for 12 + Sansom at 123 South 12th Street in Market East, Center City

In a follow-up to the recent design update to the 12 + Sansom project at 123 South 12th Street, Philadelphia YIMBY shares with its readers exclusive, brand new massing models of the 265-fot-tall, 20-story building’s future presence on the skyline. Designed by Studios Architecture (with Bower Lewis Tower Architects as the architect of record) and developed by Greystar Real Estate Partners, the 412-unit residential building will significantly boost the density in the Market East section of Center City. The tower’s shape and exterior have completely changed since the last iteration.

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W/Element Hotel with decorative lighting. Photo by Thomas Koloski

Decorative Lighting Tested Atop W/Element Hotel at 1441 Chestnut Street in Center City

In recent days, decorative lighting was undergoing testing atop the W/Element Hotel at 1441 Chestnut Street in Center City, as the dual-branded hotel readies for its grand opening in the coming months (Element Hotel in April and the W Hotel in May). Designed by Cope-Linder Architects and developed by Chestlen Development, the tower’s nighttime illumination will be particularly effective due to the tower’s prominent height of 617 feet and 52 stories, further enhanced by the dramatic design inspired by the ripples on the Schuylkill River. During Superbowl LII, the Lighting Practice, the building’s illumination designer, was inspired by multiple skyscrapers that were illuminated in green in honor of the Philadelphia Eagles and decided to switch from an all-white design to a multi-colored LED system.

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Timber Towers. Rendering via Hickok Cole

Examining Timber Towers, a Visionary Concept for Wood-Framed High-Rises Suggested for Center City

In 2018, architecture firm Hickok Cole published a design concept for Timber Towers, a trio of mixed-use high-rises that would use wood as the principal structural material. The concept, which won an honorable mention in the SKYHIVE Skyscraper Challenge, was designed to span an entire block in Center City to the northwest of the Comcast Technology Center. According to the architects, the 1.9-million-square-foot plan would use 2,075,125 cubic feet of wood products, “easily replenished by North American forests in less than three hours,” and sequester 80,775 US tons of carbon dioxide within the structure, resulting in emissions savings are the equivalent those produced by 12,073 cars within one year.

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