Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Butt-Fugly Building of the Week-- September 6th

International House

3701 Chestnut Street

                    Brutalism. Brutalist architecture lets you know its shit with its name alone. It's brutal to look at, brutal to be in, and brutal to everything around it. It's like if I made an architecture style called "Shitfuckcunttaintism". You would know it sucked before you even saw it. This Great Wall of Concrete Cubbies has no goddamn redeeming qualities.
                    A castle of fucking sidewalk. You're supposed to walk on this shit, not see it on the outside of a building. What happens when a sidewalk gets old? It cracks and turns brown and shit. What did you think would happen to a facade made of sidewalk? It ends up looking like the honeycomb of turd-harvesting bees. A turdcomb, if you will.
                   Don't get me wrong, International House is a great organization. I feel bad that they ended up in this lousy-ass building. It all started with this crazy reverend named A. Waldo Stevenson and his wife. They were out partying one night and happened upon a group of foreign students. They were amazed to find out that they were the first Americans to get to know them so they started holding balls-out parties every Friday night for foreign Philadelphia college students.
                  After eight years or so, Stevenson was able to get his Christian organization into the idea of buying a house for the parties at the old Potts Mansion at 3905 Spruce Street. This became the International Student House. It was a great meeting hall for international students where they could vent their frustration related to being surrounded by early 20th Century Americans all the time.

Google Translate is the shit.
                When the organization was getting up into the thousands of members, the mansion was no longer up to the job. The Quakers were still holding on to the cool old building at 15th and Cherry Streets that I'll have to do an article about some time. They let the International House use it as their new clubhouse. When it came time to be demolished for an expansion of Arch Street (never happened), the International House was donated some mad cheese for a new facility, this time one that students could live in!! Several architects submitted designs.
                 Mind you, it was the late 60's. The shit they got offered made my ass look like a willow tree.

Here's one from the firm Mitchell Giurgola, responsible for many of Philadelphia's ugliest buildings. So many.
Good thing they never picked this one.... ah shit.
                   They ended up picking the one from Bower Fradley. That Bower guy seems to show up in these butt-fugly building articles a lot, but always coupled or tripled with different names. Construction of this Cement Ass-Shield was completed in 1970 for 8.5 million bones. Even when it was brand new it looked like ass, like someone took a bunch of sidewalks and tried to make a building out of it. Oh wait, they did!

Seriously, its brand new in this picture.
                   Seriously, they couldn't do better than this? Did they think about how this thing would look in the future? What an insult to 103-year-old International House organization. The awesome-looking Irongate Theatre/Tabernacle Presbyterian Church across the street has taken a shit in its hand and thrown it at International House on the hour for the last 41 years.

Keep trying, Tabby. Keep trying.
                     This building is the victim of the crappy architectural time period its from. It makes one think... what would an International House of today look like? Would it be better or even more goofy-looking? Well, we're about to get an answer. Another International House is being built on the Temple University campus.

And the answah is... Its shit! BYE BYE!!


  1. Weapons-grade awful building. /// Cool shot of "Chestnut Street from Ninth" circa 1900 on Shorpy today: http://www.shorpy.com/node/11195

  2. It might have been more fun back then to pour the worlds largest block of concrete and the bore rooms into it.

    Can we have a neoclassical revival? Please?

  3. Enough to make your eyes bleed. Who would pay to live in a giant lego?