Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dead-ass Proposal of the Week-- November 24th

Academy Center of the Perfoming Arts in Philadelphia

Almost the entire block bounded by Locust, Spruce, Broad and 15th Streets

Well this is... different.
                    Well if I have to choose between this and the Kimmel Center, I'd probably pick this. This strange-looking idea was a primordial version of the Avenue of the Arts concept but it just never happened. The renderings look cool as shit but I've been fooled by drawings before. Nonetheless, I bet in some alternate universe Philadelphia where this thing was built, people enjoy the fuck out of it.    
                   The similarities between this plan and the 2001-built Kimmel Center of the Performing Arts are numerous, even down to the indoor urban garden. The general plan is the same... multiple theatres of varying size surrounding a central indoor public space. The difference with this place is that it had FOUR theatres instead of two... one of those theaters being the goddamn American Academy of Music!!!!
It would have been enormous.
                    The year was 1963. Shit was changing all over the place in Philadelphia at the time. Whole groups of blocks were being demolished and rebuilt with butt-fugly box-shaped buildings. No block was safe. Any proposal that came down the line was entirely plausible and possible. This thing was proposed with the intention of turning Philadelphia into a performing arts mecca, a second off-broadway Broadway on Broad Street.
                   To do it, a huge swath of old buildings would need to be demolished... the Shubert Theater (now Merriam Theater), two rows of 1850's row-mansions, the Vida Building, and McGlinchey's. Only the Atlantic Building and the Westbury Building would be safe.
                The Martin, Stewart, Noble, and Class firm designed this thing... it was probably no coincidence that they designed the renovations for the Academy of Music a few years earlier. I must say, for an early-60's design, its not too bad!! I usually hate the garbage built in that time period... Martin, Stewart, Noble, and Class are responsible for some especially butt-fugly examples (Myerson Hall)... but this doesn't look terrible. I wonder what material would be used for the facade and how it would have aged.
The indoor public space.
                     From what I can tell, this beastie didn't get much past these proposal drawings. Does anyone out there know anything more about this thing? Are there renderings of the 15th, Spruce, and Locust Street facades? Dead proposals have a way of being very quickly forgotten. Even when I look at a bunch of old building proposals from 2006, I don't remember half of them.
                       This proposal was obviously very dead before 1969, because a similar plan, this time including residential buildings, was proposed then. This time it was called Philadelphia Playhouse and it was directly across the street from the site for this. It makes sense that across the street is a better location, because the Hotel Walton and the Hotel Stenton had been recently demolished, opening up a huge amount of space.

Alternate Universe Broad and Locust. Now the Doubletree Hotel and Wilma Theater.
                    The concept of residential living in the theater district came to life in 1973 through the building of the butt-fugly Academy House, right on the site where the Academy Center of the Performing Arts was to go. Here's some more renderings of the Academy Center. Gobble Gobble!!


1 comment:

  1. Given that the year was 1963 you can bet money the facade would be concrete. I'm no fan of the Kimmel, but I'm glad they didn't build this. Not worth losing McGlinchey's for.