Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Butt-Fugly Building of the Week-- November 29th

United States Mint Philadelphia IV

151 North Independence Mall East (5th Street)

Why did they ever think this was a good idea?
                         Aw fuck, Vincent Kling strikes again. All those other cool-looking Philadelphia Mints in the city's history and he goes and fucks it all up with this giant concrete disaster. If Mitchell & Guirgola are the Great Satans of Philadelphia architecture, Vincent Kling is like the bad guy in the 1986 Transformers movie. He's a giant space robot who eats planets... but not before designing ugly-fucking buildings for them.

Vincent Kling in his office.
                      This building actually does look like a robot designed it. A long rectangular concrete box with two rows of windows on the front added in for flair. Philadelphia is the goddamn birthplace of the U.S. Mint and this is the fourth Philadelphia Mint building. The first was a shitty little mansion, the second was a Strickland masterpiece, the third is a huge Grecian temple that is now part of the Community College of Philadelphia, and then, for the fourth, they built this piece of shit. What an insult.
                     Not only is the front of this thing disgustingly boring...the sides and back, which face Race, 4th, and Arch Streets, are just a browned-up concrete blank wall. The only thing cool about it is the huge blast doors.

4th and Race. The Great Wall of Brown Sidewalk just keeps going and going and going. Thanks, Kling.
                        This disgrace was built in 1969, a time when concrete boxitecture was considered cool as fuck. The motivation to build a fourth mint came to be from three issues. The first was, the third Mint was 68 years old and was obsolete. Second, the third mint was in a (then) shitty neighborhood. Third, they needed a higher security facility.
                       Luckily, a giant swath of federally-owned land was just sitting there between 4th, 5th, Race, and Vine. They decided that the new Mint should take the whole damn block, and that's a HUGE block. Though this building is short, its fucking gigantic. Its the largest mint in the world.

                     Vincent Kling had a long and distinguished record of ugly shitbird concrete assbuildings and he made sure to make this building one of his worst, and that's saying something. Ironically, the location is only a few blocks away from the original mint building. A lot of cool shit goes on inside this building but the outside is so revolting that it distracts from all the greatness inside.
                     Other long industrial buildings in the city have gigantic block-long murals on them. This is probably the best solution for the 4th Street megawall created by this thing. The other option is to do it up Atlantic City-style and build a bunch of fake facades of the buildings that used to be on that block. Really, I could just smear a bunch of shit in goofy patterns on those damn walls and it would look better. Hmmph.  

The buildings that were on 4th Street.


  1. As part of the deal to build this mint building, the city also sold/gave to the feds the property on the WEST side of Independence Mall. And so we have a "park" surrounded by tall unfeeling monsters put up by the federal gov't for gov't purposes (mint, courthouse, fed reserve bank). All of these neighborhoods looked like Old City; Old City could have gone to 7th Street if the city had not done this.

  2. This is the single biggest POS in the city. No building comes close. Brutalism defined. Move the OWS vermin there.

  3. I find myself in Denver at least once a year. And when there I find myself at Sam's No. 3 at least once, if not more. Across the street from Sams's is the Denver Federal Reserve building. It is shockingly similar to our fugly mint.



    I was able to discover the Denver Fed's current location opened in 1968, a year earlier than the current Philly mint. I couldn't find out who the architect was though (guess they rightfully are hiding any invovlement).