It has been a rough few months for modernist civic buildings. First, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks denied Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital landmark status, and then came the demolition of Richard Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama, and now the future of The Roundhouse, Philadelphia’s Police Headquarters, hangs in the balance. Last week, during his budget address, Mayor Nutter brought to light the city’s plan to renovate the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Building at 4601 Market Street and turn it into the new police headquarters (to be shared with the City Morgue and the Health Center). Nutter said that the move would mean selling the Roundhouse, along with several other municipal buildings. PlanPhilly reported that the city would pay for the renovation of 4601 Market Street with long-term borrowing, but the costs of the project “would be offset by the sale of the three would-be surplus municipal properties.”
It would seem Philadelphia has a bit of a seating fixation going on with this year’s Design Philadelphia event. First there was the new Veyko subway chairs, and now—as you’ve noticed if you’ve been out wandering the streets of town during October—more than a dozen seats/sculptures scattered about, all cut from DuPont Corian, all created by prominent local designers. Reading-based C.H. Briggs, the interiors supplier, decided it wanted to celebrate Philly’s top designers and the city’s popular public spaces by commissioning them to create site-specific seating from that most ubiquitous of building materials. The results will only officially be up through the end of the month, though Briggs is currently negotiating with the city and certain institutions to donate the pieces so that they might find a permanent home—not unlike those damn cow parades that were so popular earlier in the decade, though at least these seats have a far greater purpose. You can see a slideshow of all 14 here.
One day earlier than expected, the Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously to amend the zoning lot at 19th Street and Arch Street, site of the proposed American Commerce Center. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the council’s Committee on Rules voted 9-0 in favor of the rezoning.
As we wrote last month, this does not grant approval of the KPF-designed project. Instead, it simply changes the zoning of the lot from medium density commercial site with a 125-foot height limit to a super-dense site with no height limits, making way for the 1,500-foot tower, which would far surpass its neighbors. With zoning in hand, it is believed financing and tenants should begin to follow.
Still, the project must return to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and the council for final approval within the year, lest the rezoning expire.