Monday, July 16, 2012

Mystery Butt-Fugly Building of the Week-- July 16th

Leon H. Sullivan Human Services Center

1415 North Broad Street

               Goddamn, this building sucks. A little squat building way the fuck back on a huge dirty-ass lawn. The origin of this building isn't exactly a mystery... but the architect and motivation behind the shitty layout of it are. The only good thing about this piece of shit is that maybe one day someone will construct a cool building in front of it.
             The origin of the Leon H. Sullivan Human Services Center begins with Leon H. Sullivan (duh). He was a badass local reverend and civil rights activist. His philosophy on solving poverty in the black community was logical instead of emotional-- education, job training, entrepreneurship, employment, and general health. The "general health" and "employment" parts were the motivation behind creating this shitty building, a centralized location for health and unemployment services.
           The location of this and his one of his other big ventures-- the recently rebuilt Progress Plaza, would have to be in a prominent location for the mid-20th Century Philadelphia black community-- the 1400 and 1500 blocks of North Broad. Unfortunately, this would mean knocking the fuck out of a prominent location for the Gilded Age rich motherfuckers community, the 1400 and 1500 blocks of North Broad. The Human Services Center would take the space of two kick-ass churches, one apartment building, and no less than 4 rows of Robber Baron Mega-Mansions.
Broad an Master in 1924. The Memorial Baptist Church is probably the most bad-ass looking lost church there is.
                 To be fair, at the time the Human Services Center was set to be built (1966), that kick-ass Gilded Age architecture was in pretty shitty shape-- most of the houses were fucked up and some had already been replaced with 1940's-era shitboxes. Nonetheless...whomever designed the Human Services Center thought it would be a good idea to place it set way the fuck back on the lot behind a big lawn and a crappy concrete plaza. Its so set back that its address should be 1417 North Watts Street, one of the blocks behind Broad that got eliminated for this boxy pile of shitballs.
               As I stated earlier, the architect and layout choices are a mystery. The reasoning behind placing the building so far back on the lot is probably rooted in the 1960's philosophy of urban design: suburban design. Even so, this shitty building looks worse than the crappiest 1960's suburban office park. Maybe I wouldn't mind so much if they picked up the incredible amount of trash that lawn collects on a daily basis... it IS the only green space for blocks around (in the Gilded Age, Ontario Park was a block away-- it was eliminated to create William Penn High).
               There is hope on the horizon... nearly all the blocks surrounding this shitty building are seeing or about to see change. Progress Plaza has been nicely redone, an 8-story boutique hotel is proposed for the Blue Horizon/Freedom Theatre block, the failed William Penn High School (the original School of the Future) has been closed, and Temple University's influence continues to move south. It is inevitable that the 46-year-old Leon H. Sullivan Human Services Center will probably be altered or destroyed in the near future. Its lot is zoned C-2 so that'll have to be changed to get something cool built here.
               So does anyone know what idiot architect designed this thing or why the fuck they placed it so far back on the lot? When the fuck will someone wake up and properly utilize this block for modern needs? and What the FUCK?

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