Friday, April 15, 2011

New Jefferson Building Construction Update

901 Walnut St.

So there will be a new giant light-up Jefferson sign perpendicular to the other one? Interesting how the smoke stack nex to the Edison Building is missing!
              In an attempt to make the 900 block of Walnut look less like shit, Jefferson decided to knock down the little fleabag 70's era building at 9th and Walnut and build a new 11-storey education and welcome center. I had the privilege of seeing renders for this box 2 years ago at a Washington West Civic Association meeting. The best part was when one of the old NIMBY's asked if the building would have a Green Roof and the Jeff dude chuckled "nooooo".
The crane operator is like "You've stolen my soul!!!"
          The box will be connected to the garishly colored building next door at 903 Walnut and the Edison Building (an upcoming Old-Ass Building of the Week) to its rear. The facade on the right side of the east-facing part of the box will be arranged to match the Edison Building. The facade of the building at 903 Walnut will be re-colored to match the new box. As I was taking pics of the construction I suddenly remembered that the original renders I saw 2 years ago had a supplementary box cantilevering over 903 Walnut. Sure enough, it's there:

Also in this picture, observe 903 Walnut from the What Were They Thinking era of architecture.
            Jefferson also plans to fill the future Empty Lot of the Week found at the corner of 9th and Sansom with two more boxes, but that construction is probably far off. So how long do you think until Washington West is renamed to compliment Jefferson? What do you call it? The Jefferhood? University Shitty? Midtown Fillage? Oh well.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Philly 2111

Alright here's a comic that we'll be featuring every Friday... I think I'll put it up a day early!

Empty Lot of the Week

8th and Market aka The Disney Hole

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                Everyone in the city knows that the most forlorn and depressing empty lot around is the royal shitstain located at 8th and Market. Formerly home to Gimbels’ Department Store, this plot of land has had about five million development deals fall through it like a pile of shit through wet tissue paper.

Those two guys in the foreground are like "What a grand day to be alive. I hope no one puts a big fucking hole here. Pip Pip Cheerio!"

Look at what Market East was like before the Gallery fucked it all up. Gimbels’ moved out of this building in 1977 into the Gallery and promptly went out of business 10 shoplifting years later. This building sat around for 20 some years until this Frankenburger or whatever his name comes along trying to turn the corner into some kind of Disney entertainment area. They knocked this fine building the fuck down and created the great asshole of America, the famed Disney Hole.
When Disney’s deal fell through, the lot came into its current state as a big fucking parking lot in the middle of Center City. Every once in awhile Morkenberger says he has some plan for the lot, until he goes to the site, looks around, and screams FUCK NO and makes his driver speed back to New York for his afternoon Pilates class.
What does the future hold for this lot? Lots of cars parking. If SCRUB has its elderly way, the lot will stay a parking lot in perpetuity. Will there ever be a skyscraper here? If there ever is one, it should be designed as an ode to all the whacky schemes and half-developed ideas this lot has been subjected to over the years. They should call it the Disney Hole Tower or the A Beat Up Old Gimbels' Was Better Tower.
At this point, I'd rather have a life-sized drawing in crayon of the old Gimbels' building on a giant cinderblock wall facing the street than what's there now. I'd rather see a Museum of Elephant Turds. You could call it The Hall of Dumbo's Dumps. I'd rather see a skyscraper made of Duplo blocks. A big pile of used tires. A standalone TJ Maxx. ANYTHING but a big-ass block-spanning surface lot. Fuck.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lost Building of the Week

Broad Street Station

Centre Square

Frank Furness once got busy in a Burger King bathroom.

Ok, I know I already had a LBOTW on Sunday but that was a special one. This is the real one for this week. 

Broad Street Station, designed by Wilson Brothers and Company in 1881 and expanded by Badass-Motherfucker-in-Chief Frank Furness, is probably the city’s biggest architectural loss (except maybe for that building model I made out of foamcore that I spilled coffee on). Look at this fucking thing. Imagine what a great landmark this must have been to the smelly pit-stained rotten-toothed gentlemen of the era. This Ziggurat of Face-fucking Glory was so awesome they called it Broad Street Station even though it wasn’t even on Broad Street.
This building is pretty well-known to us Philaphiles. We all know that it had the largest indoor roof in the world at the time until it burned down in 1933, we all know the lobby was covered in great artwork that got moved to 30th St. Station, we all know about the “Chinese Wall”, and if you don’t know about any of those things, fuck you. What nobody knows, however, is WHY THE FUCK THEY KNOCKED THIS THING DOWN. 
Imagine all the uses this pile of bricks would have today. Fuck the trainshed, fuck the “Chinese Wall”, but the headhouse could be used for about 10,000 uses today if someone wasn’t stupid enough to knock it down and replace it with BOXES. You just have to imagine a bunch of guys in a boardroom sitting around presenting designs for the station’s low-rise office tower replacements. Edmund Bacon was probably there, slapping the architects with his Kevin Bacon-making cock screaming “NOOO!!! <slap>THOSE LOOK TOO MUCH LIKE BUILDINGS!!! <slap> I WANT BOXES, MOTHERFUCKER <slap> BOXES!!!!!!<slap slap>. 
 This building was such a Monastery of Crotch-Kicking that a companion building, also designed by the Badass-Motherfucker-in-Chief, was built across Market Street from it. We’ll get to that building another time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Butt-fugly Building of the Week

Jefferson Alumni Hall

1020 Locust St.

Yeah, really invites you in.

              Ok, look… I know the 60’s were a bad time for architecture, but there’s no excuse for this giant piece of rat shit. Jefferson isn’t exactly known for great buildings (though two of their buildings, the Main Building and the Curtis Building aren’t bad), but this is by far their worst. This Orange Orangutan of Bricks looks like a Super-max Prison, not an education building. Where were the NIMBY’s (and I happen to know this neighborhood has them in abundance) when this Great Wall of Fuck-ups was thrown together?
              I thought this building was bad when there were parking structures across the street… then when they built that Lubert Plaza, I realized its full fucked-uppeditude once I could see its full frontage straight-on. Look at those super-tiny windows. Must suck to have an office with a window a mosquito couldn’t fit through. I appreciate that it is surrounded by a garden, but the garden is 4 feet up in the air on top of a dirty-ass pile of concrete that will only look worse with time.
             I got excited last fall when this shitpile was covered in scaffolding. I thought they might be sprucing up the façade with SOMETHING that would make it better. All they did was re-point bricks and put a new sign on the front without removing the markings left by the old sign. They also installed those weird blue flags that are on every Jeff building nowadays. IT ACTUALLY LOOKS WORSE THAN BEFORE!
             In 1968, I’m sure this building looked modern as shit. People were like “Yay! 6-inch wide windows! That’s what every building should have!” and “Yay! If the University folds, they could turn that into a Maximum Security Prison!” and “Yay! This reminds me of my domicile in Soviet Belarus!”
              The problem is that buildings like this just don’t age well. They look dated in a year and once they get dirty, forget it… they look like a baboon’s ass. Remember that the next time you think about buying one of those ugly-ass newfangled rowhomes with boxes all over them.
Jeez... even on a sunny beautiful day it looks like a bum's rotten foot.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Old-Ass Building of the Week

The Hale Building (formerly the Lucas Building, formerly half of the Garrick Theatre, formerly Keystone National Bank)

Juniper and Chestnut Sts. 

Look at this sexy bitch. Sure, it’s been mangled beyond recognition and has gone through a buttload of facades, but as every other building on the block from its time period has disappeared, Willis G. Hale’s kick-ass bank building still stands. Many an out-of-towner notices this coal-stained weather-beaten Great Wall of Cathedrals when avoiding bum-stink on Chestnut St. and nut themselves… just lil bit. This motherfucker was the Symphony House of its time, reviled by architecture critics to the point of being showcased as an example of what not to build. All those critics are now a bunch of skeletons covered in worm piss.
Rumor has it that this Temple of Badassery is about to become a hotel. I recommended the name Willis G Hale Aint Nuthin To Fuck With Hotel but they didn’t listen. A bunch of asshat NIMBY’s are whining about the hotel plans to change the already buttfucked up façade, not realizing that this thing has gone through 5 facades and has lost most of its ornamentation. Gotta love the NIMBY’s… rather have a beat up old building with a fleabag Valu-Plus in it than a hotel on East Chestnut, which is in EXTREME need of revitalization. Dumbasses. Is there even anyone left in America that has the skills necessary to restore the Hale’s original façade?
The Valu-Plus is finally gone out of business so some of these hotel rumors may be valid. I wonder how long it will take to restore the inside. I hear the roof is about as strong as a piece of toast with too much jam on it and the interior has been used as a bum, rat, and pigeon bathroom for the last 40 years. If this building EVER gets restored, I'll fuck the mouth of one of the ornamental lions on the west-facing facade. 

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Empty Lot of the Week

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13th and Market

    Ah jeez, where do I begin with this one? This dirty-ass surface parking lot conveniently located at our urban core always serves as a reminder that Philadelphia still has a loooong way to go. Shitting distance from city hall, surrounded by hotels, strong retail, and a big motherfucking convention center, this lot is a huge dick-slap in the face to every citizen, tourist, and bum that walks by.

    About 10,000 different developments would work just fine right here. Another hotel? Sure. The Convention Center Expansion’s Expansion? Sure, why the hell not. Condo? I’m sure someone would enjoy the view. Giant statue of me? I’m fine with it. Movie Studio? Wasn’t there a plan for that there once? (Help me out here, Philly nerds) SURFACE PARKING LOT? Nooooo!

     I’d rather have the world’s tallest check cashing place than a surface lot. I’d rather see a skyscraper in the shape of one of those rat balloons the unions put out when they protest. I’d rather have a quantum singularity there sucking people into oblivion. People would hate it but you could just say “better than a surface lot” and they’d shut the fuck up. 

Lost Building of the Week

The Jayne Building

242-244 Chestnut St.

    Alright motherfuckers, it’s time to get serious. We’re going to talk about the Jayne Building. It may not look like much today but in 1850 constructing a 10 storey office building was like building two Burj Khalifas on top of each other just to drain the lizard off the roof. Up to this point, the tallest office building in the goddamn WORLD was five storeys. If 10 stories doesn’t seem tall to you, go walk up 10 flights of stairs without feeling like a dead dog’s dick.

    That’s right… when the Jayne Building was built, it had no elevators-- just a mechanical hoist that could move equipment up and down. Lazy-ass employees were known to ride the hoist up, which must have been pretty scary. Imagine standing on a wood palette held by chains up a pitch-black shaft for 10 floors. You have to realize though, in 1850 the Jayne Building was one of the most prestigious buildings in the world. You would have made out with a dead rat’s ass for a chance to fall off that hoist to your excruciatingly painful death.

    The best part of the building was a wooden tower that served as America’s first public observation deck. Old-timey people put on their smelly pit-stained Sunday best and climb the stairs all the way up to the dizzying height of 130 feet. From there, they could observe the sea of brick over shit-strewn streets under the permanently grey sky that was the city of Philadelphia at the time. It must of put a tooth decay ridden smile on their curly-mustached faces to know that the smelly, dirty, riot-happy, virtually lawless Philadelphia of that age would have more superiority in America than it would have before or since. The tower was lost in a fire in 1872, and it was national fucking news at the time. It was like the spire of the Empire State Building falling off. You would hear about it.

    The rest of the Jayne Building stood for 108 years until it was kicked down by a toddler in 1958 for the great disaster known as Independence National Historical Grass Lot Collection or whatever the fuck its called. I can understand that the 200 block of chestnut was a huge shithole at the time… I once met an old man that told me a story about getting high with squatters in the vicinity of the Jayne building in the late 40’s… but considering the way the Preservation Alliance and the Historical Commission bitch and moan about a 7 year old building getting a façade restoration, you would think SOMEONE would have known the history of the Jayne building and stood in the way before it was pushed over by a pissing bum. Cocks.