Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Butt-Fugly Building of the Week-- April 26

Sporting Club at the Bellevue

244 S. Broad St.

Giant Statue of an 80's Movie Robot of the Week
              I hate buildings that prove NIMBYs right. In the early 1980's South Broad Street looked like shit... sort of the way North Broad looks now. The beautiful buildings constructed in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries were caked in layers of coal and car pollution. The old Ritz Hotel (a future Old Ass Building of the Week) was missing it's skydeck and had a 1940's facade of lines covering it's formerly beautiful bottom quarter. The Bellevue-Stratford had pieces falling off of it and was about to fall over... it was tired from just giving birth to Legionnaire's Disease. The sidewalks and streets were cracked up as shit. Ever notice that it's hard to find a picture of Broad Street in the late 70's early 80's?
             Some big-balled motherfuckers named Richard I Rubin & Co. came along and decided to improve the 200 block of South Broad Street. They restored the Bellevue-Stratford and needed to add amenities to it. They looked to the left of the old hotel castle and saw a lot that had been the Empty Lot of the Week for more than five years. Oh yeah, and that lot once held this:
The Philadelphia Art Club
             Then they said, "Wow! An Empty Lot on South Broad Street! Think of the possibilities...", then just said "Fuck it, lets build a parking garage." Build one they did. In 1983 they built a parking garage to match it's uglier big brother across the street (I'll get to that one another time). A few years later, The Sporting Club at the Bellevue was built on top of that garage, designed by Michael Graves.
              Look at that pile of donkeyshit. It's like someone took a parking garage and a Lego set and just went bananas. You almost want to thank the facade for teaching you about geometric shapes. Circles and Squares and Rectangles and Triangles. It was like Michael Graves gave the blueprint to his 4-year-old and said "Hey, finish this bullshit for me... I need a facade for this thing. Use some of the shapes you learned last week at nursery school you dirty bastard!"  
             A book called Philadelphia Off the Beaten Path: A Guide to Unique Places By Karen Ivory calls this giant statue of an 80's movie robot "most noted for its design". She should have said "It sees through the three circles and talks through the giant triangle!" What a pile of crud.

"Hello, my name is D.A.R.Y.L. or J.O.H.N.S.O.N or F.U.C.K. or some other 80's movie robot name. "


  1. Is that what Michael Graves does with everything he designs?

    To add insult to injury, I've always hated how the garage vaguely attempts to pay homage to the Art Club in it faux keystones and half round openings. At least the "Ugly Ass" parking garage across the street knows it's ugly and wears it proud.

  2. Funny, how I wasn't really aware this was a Michael graves Bldg, I guess i just never looked twice at it, but from a glance is just easy to spot it is Graves.

    He's one of the architects I just don't understand, I get that it was the 80s, but still today he's making the same thing.

    His industrial design stuff is pretty cool though, sadly not his buildings.

    I guess he's the black sheep of the New York Five.

  3. I could go on and on about Michael Graves. Somehow he manages to maintain his popularity even after most of his buildings piss people off. Portlanders HATE the Portland Building, they have since it was built.

    In my opinion, Graves, Gehry, and Venturi have made careers out of marketing a brand rather that designing well crafted architecture. It's like pop-art. It's expensive because it's recognizable, not because it's pretty.

  4. Dude, you really need to expand to New York. Not just the city, but the state as well. There is so much hopeless horeshit around here, it makes the odor at Kensington Stables seem like lavender and roses. Take this guy, for instance: http://www.paulrudolph.org/chorley.html Why in GODS GREEN EARTH, would you want to spare this half-aircraft hangar, half-concentration-camp from demolishment, is beyond me. Or this one in the Bronx, that looks like a Police Walkie-Talkie: http://bestplaces.nydailynews.com/sites/default/files/images/galleries/2011/02/18/gal_montefiore.jpg, or this one in manhattan, lovingly coined "The Tumor": http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_CijcaA9yq58/SlKx7XjP2kI/AAAAAAAACrE/Hjk0TYDia_8/s1600/blue_tower.jpg

  5. WOW! THANK-YOU for posting this! This really hits home as I am from Philadelphia and the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel is my most favourite hotel! The parking garage destroyed South Broad Street, and the beautiful Bellevue.. don't even get me started on what they did to her.