Liberty Place

One Liberty Place before topping of the spire. Photo from the Philadelphia Inquirer

Philly YIMBY Revisits the Topping-Out of the Spire atop One Liberty Place in Center City

The Liberty Place development in Center City holds a pivotal place in the Philadelphia skyline, having made a gigantic impact on the and the city’s image and its profile as a business hub. A pointed spire tops the tallest tower, the 945-foot-tall One Liberty Place at 1650 Market Street, outfitted with broadcasting equipment. The complex was designed by Helmut Jahn of Murphy/Jahn and developed by Rouse and Associates. In this feature, Philadelphia YIMBY shares images of One Liberty Place from the day the spire had topped out.

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Worker on top Two Liberty Place. Photo by Thomas Koloski

Observing the Construction of Two Liberty Place

Among the multiple structures that make up the Liberty Place complex, Two Liberty Place is the second tallest, rising 848 feet and 58 stories, yet it is the largest by area, with 1.2 million square feet. As such, the building is one of the most largest skyscrapers in Philadelphia, as the Comcast Center measures nearly 1.4 million square feet and the Comcast Technology Center holds 1.5 million square feet. Two Liberty Place is located near the heart of Center City at 50 South 16th Street. Just like the rest of Liberty Place, the tower was designed by Helmut Jahn of Murphy/Jahn, who had unfortunately passed away in a bicycle crash in Chicago in May. The project was developed by Willard Rouse of Rouse and Associates, which eventually became Liberty Property Trust.

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Many more conceptual drawings of One Liberty Place. Drawings by Helmut Jahn

Looking Back at an Early Iteration of The Liberty Place Complex in Center City

From 1987 to 2007, the tallest building in the Philadelphia skyline was One Liberty Place at 1650 Market Street in Center City, rising 945 feet and 61 stories tall, closely followed by the adjacent Two Liberty Place at 50 South 16th Street, which stands 848 feet and 58 stories tall and was completed in 1990. Designed by Helmut Jahn and developed by Rouse and Associates (later known as Liberty Property Trust), the Liberty Place complex features a fantastic glass, metal, and stone design. Today, Philadelphia YIMBY looks back at an earlier iteration of the complex when the towers were still in designing stages in 1984.

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Unfinished Liberty Place design model. Photo from Helmut Jahn

Visualizing the Under-500-Foot-Tall Early Iterations of Liberty Place on the Skyline

The Liberty Place complex is emblematic of the Philadelphia skyline as they played a key role in Center City‘s skyscraper growth. The towers currently stand 61 and 58 stories tall, with angled sharp crowns pointing toward to the sky, one tower capped with a tall and another with a short spire. The project was commissioned by Willard G. Rouse III of Rouse and Associates, who had originally pictured a $150 million 38-story tower rising to a height that measured somewhere under 500 feet. Just days after New Year’s Day in 1984, the building was first discussed in a publication about how Rouse won the bid for the site how it may become the city’s premier office tower. The architect, Helmut Jahn, was selected in March, and had produced a rapid succession of concepts under 500 feet, which eventually evolving well above that height. Today we share exclusive massing concepts of how the skyline would have looked if the towers were built to their originally planned height.

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One Liberty Place Rainbow animated scheme from South Street. Photo by Thomas Koloski

My Liberty Lights Program Is Underway at One Liberty Place

Over the course of the past two years, the decorative illumination at the crown of One Liberty Place at 1650 Market Street in Center City has been under renovation, as it is being upgraded with powerful lights that can be animated into various schemes and colors. Designed by Helmut Jahn of Murphy/Jahn and developed by Rouse and Associates (later known as the Liberty Property Trust), the tower was completed in 1987 and stands 945 feet and 61 stories tall. The contractor for the illumination upgrade is The Lighting Practice, which has also decorated the W/Element Hotel. The new lighting system is integrated with the My Liberty Lights program, which allows certain users to change the exterior lights atop the building once per day for a duration of five minutes.

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