Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Butt-Fugly Building of the Week-- May 31st

Residences at Dockside (formerly Dockside Apartments)

717 South Columbus Boulevard   (Pier 30)

                      What a piece of crud. Everyone has the same reaction when they first see this thing. "Is that a cruise ship? Oh, it's a building? Oh well, who cares." I don't know who must have thought this was a good idea. I can imagine a bunch of guys sitting around a board room saying, "Let's build an apartment building on a pier!!! Let's make it look like a boat!! People will be like 'Wow! I always wanted to live on a cruise ship that's docked at a barely accessible point of the waterfront!'"
                      Ads for this thing say "wonderful views" but I imagine that's only for the residents who face North and West. The South and East facing apartments look upon a world of shit. Unless you're some kind of stevedoring enthusiast who wants to watch cargo not get shipped at Camden's garbage waterfront, those views are useless.
                     Just take a good look at this fucked up Poseidon Adventure. It looks like a ship wrecked there and they used it as a frame to build an apartment building. It looks so dated that it's hard to believe that this pile of shit on thirty-foot pilings was built in the 21st century. Yay, another building on a parking garage pedestal.
                 The other problem with this building is it's location. I don't understand why real estate developers often forget the FIRST THREE FUCKING RULES OF REAL ESTATE. Not only does this building look like ass, but they couldn't have chosen a worse part of the waterfront to place it on.

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                    It's across the street from a surface parking lot and an on/off ramp for a interstate highway. To the south there is a noisy-ass heliport. This is not like a hospital heliport near your place whose noise gets muffled by the buildings between you. This is a heliport with way more traffic and much more unmuffled noise. Those south-facing apartments get fucked even more than I thought.
                This Carnival Fool's Ship is completely cut off from the city. Living there is like living in the city in your own isolated cage that's only accessible by car. Why live in the city if you can only travel by car? That's what the burbs are for. It would have been better at ANY other point of the waterfront. Even if you put it next to that crappy PECO plant on the river near Pier 70 it would be a better location.
                 This place was designed by Bower Louis Thrower Architects. They're so embarrassed about it that they don't even acknowledge it on their website. This is one situation where we can thank the housing bubble for stopping construction... there were actually plans for a second one!!! We would have had twin fucked-up shipwrecks on the waterfront. What a relief!


  1. I am so glad that you had a go at this building. Every time I drive down Delaware Avenue and look at that thing I cringe. I have many questions about this building. First, is it really wise to build a building this big on a pier? Do other cities do this? Is there no one in city government who has the power to say, "No way, your plans are not approved because it is a cheap-ass looking monstrosity?" Does anyone actually live in this building? I never see many lights on and the majority of the windows on the south side are curtainless...But somebody had to make money off that ridiculous behemoth--the people in city government whose palms were greased perhaps? Anyway, it makes a nice accompaniment to the monument to Christopher Columbus' dick just a few blocks away. How about featuring Butt-Fugly public art?

  2. Shit, you know what this reminds me? The "Gates of Chișinãu," in the capital of Moldova, which was a part of the USSR when they were built.

    - Stephen, http://marketurbanism.com

  3. I hate this building, and yet, I was a fan of the Loveboat and Fantasy Island as a kid. You forgot to mention the crappy fish sculptures the developer placed in front of the place to satisfy some public art code. He had a laugh getting his welders to blow some weed and fulfill their high-school art-class never weres dreams.
    I just laugh every time I drive by here imagining the architects light-bulb moment when he/ she realised that because its on the water he could make it look like a ship!
    Unfortunately, Zaha Hadid architects just made the same mistake in Glasgow- oi vey!

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  5. There's a long back-story as to why this building is at that spot. It was originally supposed to be built next to the Ben Franklin Bridge, on the site of Pier 9 or Pier 11 (the Race Street Pier)! But Philadelphia Waterfront Civic Association--which I joined--was formed specifically to put a stop to that plan about 10 years ago. It succeeded and then disbanded. There's more about this in my book, Philadelphia's Lost Waterfront. The Dockside building was, btw, built on the abandoned remains of what was once the Kenilworth Street Pier.