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.
Two Liberty Place
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.
On May 13, 1985, celebrations were held for the groundbreaking for the first phase of the Liberty Place complex in Center City, with another office tower, mall, and hotel under construction by February 1988. The towers, located at 1650 Market Street and 50 East 16th Street, were designed by Helmut Jahn of Murphy/Jahn. Originally One Liberty Place was meant to stand 915 feet, while the shorter Two Liberty Place was proposed to rise 708 feet and 48 stories tall. The project was developed by Willard G. Rouse III of Rouse and Associates, which had eventually transformed into Liberty Property Trust. In this feature, Philadelphia YIMBY shares revised versions of our custom-made skyline massings of the 1985 Liberty Place design.
In 1984, plans were approved for the first office tower to rise above the unwritten Gentleman’s Agreement height above the statue of William Penn. One Liberty Place broke ground in 1985 and was under construction until the end of 1987, starting a new construction boom for the city that revitalized the city’s skyline. One Commerce Square had topped out the summer before One Liberty Place rose, but, shortly after the completion of One Liberty Place, the structure of the Independence Blue Cross Tower joined the skyline. By the end of 1988, the Bell Atlantic Tower was also rising, eventually bulking up the skyline by 1989.
High-rise development offer numerous advantages, including efficient use of valuable urban real estate, environmental benefits through resource use economies of scale and conservation of land, and dense, transit-friendly and pedestrian-favorable environments that create thriving cities. Then, of course, there are the lofty views that are available to dwellers of sky-high aeries. Using the formula of D = 1.22459 x Sqrt (H + 5.58), where D equals distance and H stands for the height of the building’s highest floor and 5.58 represents 5′-7″, the height of the average US adult in feet, we can calculate the longest unobstructed view distances on a clear day from any building level. Today YIMBY offers a comparison of views and view distances from the highest floors of some of the tallest buildings on the Philadelphia skyline.