Thursday, June 28, 2012

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

Class of '23 Ice Arena

3130 Walnut Street

Oof that's some bad concrete.
                     Ya know, I try to avoid talking shit about UPenn's, Drexel's, and Temple's Butt-Fugly buildings. People just sort of expect 20th Century college architecture to look like shit. Back when I did those articles about Myerson Hall and the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, some folks came at me saying it wasn't fair to come down on collegiate buildings because they're SUPPOSED TO suck. Trust me, I understand. I did my undergraduate work at the one of the world's ugliest campuses.
                       Nonetheless, fuck this building. This dirty piece of concrete dogmeat looks worse than the railyard it replaced. Though I like that it has an entrance on the level of the Walnut Street Bridge, they couldn't have made a worse design for it.. blech. The origin of this thing is pretty well known. It started in 1968 when a bunch of rich-ass alumni from the Penn class of 1923 came together into a group called the Friends of Pennsylvania Hockey. They scrounged up 3.2 million dollars in order to build a new hockey facility on the UPenn campus. Back then, Penn's hockey team was a big fucking deal.
                       Over 3 million of the 3.2 million came from one donor, Class of 23er Howard Butcher. The donation was the largest ever in Penn history at the time. Eventually the NYC-based architecture firm of Robert S. McMillan Associates, who usually design stuff for Africa and the Middle East, were commissioned to design the new 2,900 seat rink. Once built in 1970, people went nuts over it. Hockey games in the arena were always nearly sold out.

                         The design was sunk next to the Walnut Street Bridge and looks like the fucking Jetson's house. The entire structure is poured concrete on concrete. 42 years later, it looks like butt, just as you would expect any piece of concrete that old to look. For the longest time, it was the first piece of UPenn property that would be seen when coming over from Center City. How embarassing.
                        In 1978, Penn pulled the plug on Ice Hockey due to budget problems. Ever since, the arena has hosted high school hockey, figure skating shows, trade shows, and other crap. Despite being extremely outdated and ugly, the shitpile is still the largest collegiate arena in Pennsylvania. Pitiful. I'm not the only one who thinks this thing should be gone. Penn knows how fucked up this place is.
                        In 2005-2007, Penn's Master Plan had the Class of 23 demolished in favor of a more intensive use building. Though the demolition wasn't set to take place until 2020 and though Penn guaranteed a replacement rink, NIMBYs came out to protest it. The crowd at the initial planning meeting roared and the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference put out a petition to stop it. Why the fuck are they trying to save this thing? It looks like its about to crumble into dust!
2006 Dead-Ass Proposal Master Plan from Penn. The replacement building is behind that tall one.
                              I could swear I've seen a more detailed rendering of a building that replaces the rink, but I can't find it anywhere. The current Master Plan replaces the shitbird Ice house as well, but has it in the 2025-2030 range. Though NIMBYs will probably still come out against demolishing this motherfucker by that time, I doubt there will be much left of the arena by then. Just go take a look at it. The tarnished up building looks like it will disintegrate if you went up and gave it a good kick. Fuck it.

You really want to save this? That's like trying to save a sand castle.
                   UPDATE: Found the renders of the Athletic Complex once proposed to replace the shitrink:


  1. This building is blandly boring, but don't compare it to George Jetson's house as that one was fun!

  2. I rank this the third ugliest POS in the city. US Mint being number one. Guild House #2.

  3. I like it, it looks like the concrete roof is hovering because of the unbroken band of glass.