Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Butt-Fugly Building of the Week-- June 28th

801 Arch Street (aka Philadelphia Garment Center)

801 Arch Street

A chimpanzee with a pencil in its ass could have designed a better building.
                   Sometimes there's a building so ugly it you just want to spit on it. In this case, I want to take a big shit on this building because that will make it look better. Look at this Dungeon of Dirty Despair. It has that crappy 70's facade material that looks like stone corduroy pants, super-thin windows, and is surrounded by empty lots so the ugliness could be seen for blocks. What a piece of bagarbage.              
                   In 1973, the non-profit Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation was in the midst of trying to save the city's economy by attempting to promote and enhance local industry. Manufacturing jobs were leaving town and the country. Philadelphians were losing their jobs and had no where else to work. The PIDC hooked up with the Model Cities Program, a federal program designed to organize the myriad of urban renewal programs, and decided that Philadelphia should become the Garment Workers Nexus of the Universe.
                The first phase was to build a modern garment factory across the street from the Guild House and staff it with local workers. The next phase was to build six garment centers throughout the city that would train future garment workers, find them jobs, and provide medical care and day care. The final phase would be development of a new Garment District centered around Broad and Lehigh. Mayor Rizzo loved the idea because it would help him with some of his racial tension problems and help the city's economy. He publicly endorsed the plan and threw some city money at it.
               The factory opened in 1975 as the Somerset Mills factory and employed 500 workers, mostly making men's sweaters. The first Garment Center a.k.a. crappy building in the picture above was next. It was built in 1975-1976 for 4.5 million dollars. Four point five million dollars? That's how much this Anthill of Assholes cost? I wouldn't have approved this building if it could be built for 4.5 million grains of sand.

The heavy rains during the topping-off ceremony should have been a clue.
               As you might have guessed, Philadelphia did NOT become the Garment Workers Nexus of the Universe. I don't throw around the words Epic Fail very often, and I hate when people say it in real life, but this building represents some of the biggest Epic Fail in the city's history, and that's saying something. Rizzo didn't get the political points he was hoping for and the rest of the Garment Workers plan went to shit.
               The other Garment Centers were never built, though plans for opening one in the Mulford Building (now Lofts 640) were thrown around. The factory closed in 1992 and is now the Red Cross. The only effort toward creating a Garment District were small sidewalk and subway station improvements at Broad and Lehigh where there were already clothing factories(long closed). Some of the street signs are still visible today.

Broad and Lehigh. 70's-ish Sign and Subway Station improvements stand as a monument to Shitbagiousness. Image from Google.
                 In the mid 00's the building got renovated and started it's current life as crappy state offices that aren't good enough to go into the State Office Building. The Driver's License Center recently moved from it's storefront on the 1100 block of Market's hoopty-store row to this fucked up location.
                 It's hard for me to express what a piece of shit this building is. I don't even want to call it a building, it should be called an earfucking, because that's what it does to you every time you see it. Ow! There it goes again. To Hell with this piece of shit.


  1. This building isn't horrific, but I don't understand why they put such awful windows in. Apparently the 70's had some kind of hatred of the outside. It's a very weird trend that has thankfully reversed.

  2. It's called prison architecture for non-prisoners..