Over the past 40 years, Center City has become home to multiple structures over the height of 500 feet. Philadelphia City Hall was the tallest structure in Philadelphia from 1894 to 1986 at 548, then in 1987 the steel structure of One-Liberty-Place eventually passed the statue to soon top out its spire at 945 feet. The same developers of Liberty Place also developed the next tallest skyscraper in the city, the 974-foot Comcast Center from 2007 to 2017. In 2017, across the street to the west, the Comcast Technology Center became the tallest skyscraper in the city since 2017 and its first supertall skyscraper at 1,121 feet. For this development, Comcast had partnered with Liberty Property Trust, which was originally known as Rouse and Associates. The tower was designed by Foster and Partners, which has designed iconic structures such as the Gherkin in London and the Hearst Tower in Midtown Manhattan. Today Philly YIMBY looks back at the period when the iconic tower’s spire topped out.
Philly YIMBY recently posted a brief overview of a $60 million expansion proposed at the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center campus in University City, West Philadelphia. The main feature is an eight-story, 493,039-square-foot parking garage planned at 3800 Powelton Avenue. Designed and engineered by Pennoni and THA Consulting, the structure will roughly triple the amount of on-campus parking even while demolishing an existing four-story garage and reducing the total ground footprint used for parking. The project also involves the demolition of a seven-story treatment facility, as well as streetscape improvements and 6,460 square feet of new retail. Today we look at how the project shows that high-rise design benefits urban planning, no matter what function it takes, and why it may be a precursor to further development at the campus.
Developer RREI LLC, run by the father-son team of Neal and Victor Rodin, has announced the completion of the $16 million purchase of the 105,899-square-foot lot at 501 Spring Garden Street (aka 501-39 Spring Garden Street) in Northern Liberties, North Philadelphia, where they plan to construct a large mixed-use project. Designed by BLT Architects, the 13-story building will feature 382 residences and 60,810 square feet of retail, as well as 211 parking spaces. The acquisition was complicated by the site’s ownership being split between 11 different entities, and took five years to complete as the result. Having finally completed the transaction, the team is ready for the next steps in adding this important project to the up-and-coming neighborhood.
In the mid-1940s, the Philadelphia skyline still maintained the general look it received during the construction boom of the 1920s and 1930, when several new towers added significant mass to the Center City skyline. The Philadelphia City Hall still topped the skyline at 548 feet tall, but by the 40s more high-rises were nearing the top of the clock tower, with several rising in the 300-foot range. A number of Art Deco buildings stood out, with predominantly light and dark brown shades. Today Philly YIMBY compares massing renderings of the 1945 skyline and the 2020 skyline.
A large number of impressive structures rose in Center City in the first three decades of the 20th century. Several were built in close proximity to City Hall, such as The Metropolitan at 117 North 15th Street in Center City. Designed by Louis E. Jallade, who designed various structures in New York and beyond, the high-rise started construction in 1926 and was completed in 1928. The 26-story tower, which stands just to the northeast of the iconic Love Park, currently houses residential space.