Thursday, August 9, 2012

Butt-Fugly Building of the Week-- August 9th

Seven Penn Center

1635 Market Street

                   You know, maybe I was too tough on Vinny Kling over 1601 Market... maybe I should have focused on the building next door, Seven Penn Center. This piece of garbage had a chance of being an ok-looking building until some dumbass decided it would be a good idea to have a blank stone wall facing Market Street.
                 What the fuck were they thinking? Were blank walls all the rage in 1964? The other three sides of this motherfucker are covering in glass-- why is the blank side on Market Street? At least they had enough sense to have the blank side of 1601 Market face the Penn Center plaza. What a bunch of morons.
                 Back in 1963, IBM was at the forefront of American technology. They were proud of their room-filling magnetic tape computers and two-year-old invention of sort-of mobile storage devices (the first swappable disks). They were getting ready to move their international HQ to Armonk, NY (trying to be like Reader's Digest or something) and they had just launched the first data-moving satellites. Among this bit of success, IBM was in search of a new Philadelphia office.
               Enter Kling and friends. They were in the midst of designing Five Penn Center and IBM latched on as the anchor tenant. Even when the building's first renderings came out, it was being called the IBM Building.

The rendering. Is the south-facing side supposed to be the front? I like how those rendering people are like "WTF?!"
                 The 21-story building was considered quite the big deal at the time. Construction began in May of 1963 and was rife with problems. A fire in December of 1963 put a dent into the construction time. The building finally opened in February of 1965.

It looks better like this.
Shiny and new (and ugly).
                  Once open, IBM didn't stay there very long. After only 2 decades, the building was surrounded by highrises and the only full facade of the building you could see at one time was that big stone wall. In 1985, IBM signed up to be the anchor tenant for upcoming One Commerce Square. The building at 1635 Market would then just be called "Seven Penn Center" and hold offices for various companies that are too shitty to rent better offices in the surrounding buildings.
                 IBM eventually moved the bulk of their Philly operation out to West Chester and keeps one crappy office in the Central Business District. There's not much else to say about this building except to say that IT SUCKS. I don't expect any new commercial buildings to be built in the CBD any time soon so demolishing this thing wouldn't make much sense... we're just stuck with it. That's crap.

The um... front? of the building-- only viewable from the side.


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  2. Haven't worked in this building, I can report that its insides aren't any better.