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Two Liberty Place

Two Liberty Place from One Liberty Place. Photo by Thomas Koloski

Looking at Two Liberty Place, Philadelphia’s Fourth-Tallest Building, in Center City

The majority of the skyscrapers that dominate the Philadelphia skyline are the trophy towers that were built in the late 1980s. One of these buildings is the 848-foot-tall, 58-story Two Liberty Place at 50 South 16th Street in Center City, the city’s fourth-tallest building. The skyscraper is a part of the Liberty Place complex that consists of two towers connected by a mall and a hotel. The skyscraper was designed by Helmut Jahn, who also designed buildings such as MesseTurm in Frankfurt, Germany, 50 West Street in New York City, and the Bank of America Tower in Jacksonville, Florida, among many others. The developer of the project was Rouse and Associates, which eventually transformed into Liberty Property Trust, which built both of the Comcast skyscrapers that today dominate the skyline.

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One Liberty Place elevation and Helmut Jahn. Photo and image via JAHN

As the World Remembers Helmut Jahn, One Liberty Place Lights Up the Skyline

Philadelphia YIMBY often shares exciting and uplifting news regarding the city and its development. However, on May 8th, in Chicago, world-renowned architect Helmut Jahn was tragically killed in a road incident not far from his eponymous firm. According to the press, Jahn was biking near his home, 40 miles away from Chicago, when he was struck by two vehicles and was pronounced dead the next day at 81 years old. The architect was born on January 4, 1940 in Zindorf, Germany, and has designed an incredible amount of buildings between 1974 and 2017. In his lifetime, Jahn has produced unique and awe-inspiring designs throughout the world, which stood out as ahead of their time, and has left a dramatic imprint on the Philadelphia skyline.

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One and Two Liberty Place. Photo By Thomas Koloski

Designing the Tower at Two Liberty Place

Two Liberty Place at 50 South 16th Street in Center City is a 848-foot-tall skyscraper similar in style to the complex’s anchor tower One Liberty Place at 1650 Market Street, with its floor boosted by an extension on the north side of the structure.  Designed by Murphy/Jahn and developed by Willard G. Rouse III of Rouse and Associates, the tower was erected in 1988 and stands 58 stories tall. Philly YIMBY looks at the design process through drawings by Helmut Jahn that date to 1986.

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Liberty Place unfinished design with the Philadelphia skyline, south elevation. Models and image by Thomas Koloski

Imagining the Philadelphia Skyline with the 1985 Iteration of Liberty Place

On April 5, 1984, Willard G. Rouse of Rouse and Associates announced the proposal of Liberty Place, a complex in Center City that would rise hundreds of feet above the informal height limit set by the 548-foot Philadelphia City Hall. By the next year, Helmut Jahn of Murphy/Jahn Architects finalized the design on One Liberty Place at 1650 Market Street as the design we see today, though Two Liberty Place, The Shops at Liberty Place, and the hotel all differed from their current versions. Today Philly YIMBY takes a closer look at this early iteration of the complex design.

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Philadelphia skyline from South Street Bridge. Photo by The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Illustrated History of Philadelphia’s Skyscraper Boom of 1984-1991

The Philadelphia skyline is anchored by a group of particularly tall buildings, but just 40 years ago, not a single tower rose over 548 feet, the height of the City Hall tower that was completed in 1901. An informal “gentlemen’s agreement” held towers back from rising above the limit, but no developer was successful until One Commerce Square was approved in 1984, which was soon followed by a series of even taller skyscrapers. Philly YIMBY looks at the history behind these Center City buildings, which shaped a major portion of the Philadelphia skyline as we know it today.

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