Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Butt-Fugly Buidling of the Week-- July 26th

Police Administration Building (a.k.a. the Roundhouse)

750 Race Street

                       A Police Headquarters that looks like handcuffs. What a fucking joke. This concrete monstrosity is one of those buildings that stands between regular humans and architecture nerds. 99.9% of the people that see this building say "What a piece of shitfucktastic garbitechture!" but a small small sampling of architecture geeks love this fucking thing. Not me. Fuck this building and fuck concrete.
                     It was the 1950s. Mayor Dilworth was spearheading the revitalization of the entire eastern third of Center City. One of the biggest challenges of that revitalization was the renewal of what was known as Skid Row. It was sort of like Deadwood but with the whores and drunks outdoors instead of in. That place really chapped Dilworth's ass. It had a few historical buildings including some of the city's last wooden houses, which became a code violation in 1796.

No, really.
                      Dilworth had saved the ancient homes that still stood in the Society Hill section, calling the neighborhood "irreplacable". When it came to Skid Row, he was like "Fuck this shit!!!" and mowed it all the fuck down, especially in the areas of it that would touch the not-yet-complete Independence Mall. It was such a high crime area, he was like "Let's drop a new Police HQ there!! That'll solve the crime problem!"
                      At the time, there was a movement of creating futuristic looking municipal buildings. People went fucking nuts over it. Designs that looked like some shit you would see in a bad 50's sci-fi movie became reality, and reality fucking bites. This new police HQ was going to be the most high-tech and futuristic one ever seen... in the early 60's. The brand new architecture firm of Geddes Brecher Qualls Cunningham was on the case.
                      They must of been smoking some pretty good shit because they came up with this goofy-ass plan to create a building consisting of two large cylinders with curving connections between them. They made it look like fucking handcuffs.
Like this, but a building.
                     Dilworth nearly shit his pants. He was like "Do it motherfucker!!!" and construction began. Back then, urban revitalization meant Concrete Over Everything. That was what was going to be answer for Skid Row. They even wanted to run a highway through Franklin Square!
                   For some reason, they thought that concrete would stay all shiny and white forever. Apparently, none of them ever looked down and figured out that you shouldn't build a building out of SIDEWALK. Dumbasses. The firm of shitbags that designed this fuckstick thought they were cool as fuck by making it built of big pre-fab concrete panels. Two thousand of them.

Arangging big pieces of sidewalk into a building. From what it says in the big-ass watermark.
                     They'd literally bring the walls on the back of a truck and crane them into place until they were done. People thought this was the coolest shit since toilet paper. At no point did anyone think of the impracticality of it all. Architects the world over had to change their underwear after looking at it. This Pair of Concrete Testicles gets praised and ass-kissed to this day.
                      What do I mean by impracticality? Think about it. Do you think it's fun to put rectilinear furniture and equipment into a curvilinear room? Kiss half of your square footage goodbye. Being inside a big hollow box of concrete blows. It gets moldy and mildewy and it sucks if you need to install any new plumbing or wiring. Over time, the concrete develops holes and crumbly areas, causing a moist drafty building that's paradise for roaches and ants. Literally, the Roundhouse, as it came to be known, is an Arcology of Vermin.
                      The Police Commissioner has made it clear that they want the fuck out of there, which is the biggest indicator that fifties-futuristic-looking concrete castles are not practical for any damn use... the very people that the building was designed for can't stand it. There's not going to be a new Police HQ built for a looooong fucking time so they will have to continue to suffer because a couple of dumbass shitchitects thought they were cool. Sorry, officers.


  1. $10 says that when the P.D. does move out, the whole thing will be historically designated and turned into condos.

  2. It's a pretty famous building – my mom says that her dad, who was a famous architect in Romania, knew about the building and was excited about it because it was a trailblazer in some concrete technique, which was obviously of much interest to an architect working in communist Romania.

    I think it would actually make a pretty awesome base for some glassy skyscrapers – a facadist makeover, essentially.

    But (other) Steve is probably right – it'll be landmarked and turned into condos, and anyone who has the audacity to propose building on top of it will be shouted down for parking and "historical character" reasons.