Thursday, December 15, 2011

Empty Lot of the Week-- December 15th

The CHoP Hole

Between the Colket Translational Research Building and the Fisher Translational Research Center

It's deeper now than it was in this pic from October 2011.
                          Does this even count as an empty lot? It's not even a lot, its a hole. A very deep hole that seems to be getting deeper by the day. Every time I see it, I'm floored by how much deeper it has become. What are they digging for? Is this Gold Rush Philadelphia? What the frick!?!?!
                           For the history of this lot, look no further than the Butt-Fugly building article here. I still don't know what the fuck Translational Research is. Wait a minute... this hole almost seems like a construction site. Could CHoP's South Campus Master Plan actually be a go?!?!? If it is, what form will it take? There have been a shitton of renders of what would be built on this spot over the years.

Obviously an old one. The Civic Center is still there.

This one has the Colket Tranlational Research Center in it but it looks all weird.
Here's the same configuration of buildings as above but with goofy colors.
The accompanying text said that this was an 8 storey building.
                         The other clue that makes me think that its a construction site is the recent news that CHoP has issued a 270 million dollar bond sale to "fund future expansion projects". Now that could mean anything, since in July they released the news that they would be building a whole new set of shit on the other side of the river from the Hole, but the articles about the bond sale also mention "a new five storey Ambulatory Care Center."
                          I guess that's what's going on... but the question still remains... why the fuck do they need to go so deep over a five storey building? Also, the deepest part of the hole is in an area that every rendering has as a grassy open space. I know that this area of land has had its share of landfill applied in the early to mid 19th Century... maybe that's what is being removed.
                           You have to be pretty impressed with an organization says "fuck you" to the Great Recession and sells off a bunch of shit to get their buildings built. Though the future South Campus Complex will probably pale in comparison to the old master plan for it, it is another step in the right direction for the city. Oh, and kids' lives will get saved too... but fuck that, this is an architecture blog.

The least deep section of the hole as of yesterday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lost Mystery Building of the Week-- December 14th

Philadelphia University of Medicine and Surgery (aka Pennsylvania Medical College)

252 S. 9th Street

Pretty frickin' cool! Image from the PAB.
                          This cool-looking building rocked the corner of 9th and Latimer Streets for 120+ years but no one seems to remember anything about it. This building was a gem that probably wouldn't have been demolished in the present day, but was considered shit that needed to go in the 1960's.
                        The early history of this thing is known.. its what happened later on that no one seems to care about. In the early 1840's, Doctor William Paine founded and administrated the Philadelphia University of Medicine and Surgery, known locally as just Philadelphia University. This was just one of the medical schools in a time when they were popping up and fizzling out every few years. The medical schools that we currently have in the city are vestiges from that era... the ones that survived.
                         By the mid 1840's, this particular medical school was doing pretty well and the leaders of it decided that they needed a brand new headquarters building that could not only function as a school but as a medical museum of sorts as well. They got the Megagrandmaster of Highway-Speed Crotch Kicks Thomas Ustick Walter to design them this castle of the medical arts. Though only two stories, this beast seems massive.
                        After it was built in 1849, it became a meeting place for the entire medical establishment of the city and beyond. By the 1860's, after the school became part of the Pennsylvania Medical College, doctors from far and wide would come to an annual conference that was held there. The museum portion of the building displayed anatomical, pathological, and surgical specimens, sort of how the College of Physician's Mutter Museum does today.
                       Pernnsylvania Medical College didn't last very long after that. The University of Pennsylvania was pissed that there was a another college called "Pennsylvania", so they worked hard to get the place shut down just because they had a similar name. Pennsylvania College was absorbed by the Eclectic Medical College of Pennsylvania, which was a school that was based on a form of quackery called Eclectic Medicine. That place was shut the fuck down in 1939 for being about bullshit.
                      During and even after the Philadelphia University of Medicine and Surgery's existence, the school was embroiled in a national controversy at the time: Bogus degrees. A company was making diplomas (they called them "Matriculating Tickets" back then) that said "Philadelphia University" on them and selling them to anyone who wanted one. After the school lost its charter and became part of Pennsylvania College, bogus degrees with the school's full name on it got spread across America.
                    After all that, I can't find shit about what happened to this building, other than these shitty photographs of it:

1961. There it is on the right, extremly altered and with an addition. SOMEONE cared about this thing.
Aerial photo from 1931.. the alterations and addition are present in this photo as well.
                           I have found some records of people listing this place as their home address in the late 19th Century. Was it turned into a private residence or maybe apartments? I'm sure there are some oldheads out there that remember this beast... WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO IT!?!?!?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Butt-Fugly Building of the Week-- December 13th

CVS/Pharmacy #1545 (aka Acme Markets, aka Thriftway, aka Food Rite aka Tyson and Griswold Residences)

1500 Spruce Street

Surprised? Image from Google.
                         I've always hated this building... its dirty, outdated, and scars a spot that should have a much taller building. This building, like the old Crane Company Showroom, confirms that butt-fugly buildings definitely existed before 1940. The construction date of this building is actually quite shady, because it is really the super-mangled form of two really old mansions. Real Rap.
                        This corner started as two massive homes that were built some time between 1830 and 1850. Though many different families flourished in the two gigantic houses, the most famous people who lived in them were super-businessmongers Frank Tracy Griswold and Dr. James Tyson. Some time between 1917 and 1930, the first stage mangling began. The Philadelphia-based Acme Markets took on the properties and formed them into this ugly supermarket, leaving the upper floors of the Tyson residence somewhat intact. The row of mansions on the rest of the block got knocked down to be the parking lot some time in the 40's.

How it looked in 1950.
                     The spot uglied-up the corner of 15th and Spruce for decades, finally reaching its ultimate form in 1977, when the building went through seven months of renovations and all evidence of the Tyson residence was removed.

This 1986 picture pretty much sums it up.
The interior after the grand reopening in 1977.
                       The 1977 interior stayed relatively unchanged all the way up into 2007 or so, though it looked like a decroded piece of crap by then. Acme gave up on this building by the early 90's and the spot became a Thriftway and later the crappy-ass Food Rite Market by the end of the 90's.

As Thriftway in 1995.
                     For some reason, this piece of shit is historically certified... though the file for it has no architect or build date listed. I'm guessing it's certified because this dirty piece of shit is one of the only remaining Acme Market buildings from the era when they had neighborhood stores. I'm not the only one who thinks this thing is shit... the Avenue of the Arts Master Plan from 1999 demolishes this motherfucker and replaces it with a pocket park.

I'd call it Shitzod Park, but that's just me.
                         Like many of the things in that Master Plan, it never fucking happened. A few years ago, CVS/Pharmacy rolled in and renovated the building into Store # 1545. They TRIED to make the place look nicer, re-windowing openings that the Food Rite Market closed up and painting over the fucked up bricks from the 1977 renovation. Good try, but this building is just beyond help. Even when you go into that CVS you notice how the floor is all crooked and uneven. Just put this fucker out of its misery already.

The only picture I could find from the Food Rite era. Check out how dirty the place was. This pic is from some blog article from the late 90's about where you could find Jolt Cola. Anyone have a pic from the exterior of Food Rite?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Old-Ass Building of the Week-- December 12th

The Pennsylvania Building (aka Robinson Building aka Penn Building)

1501 Chestnut Street

Nice work, motherfucker.
                      Here's a cool building that people just walk right by or use the storefronts of but never notice. This shit right here is the real deal from the skyscraper boom of the very late 19th Cenutry and very early 20th. Nobody respects this sexy bitch today but back when it was built, it was a big fucking deal.
                      In the late 1890's and early 1900's, shit was going pretty fucking well in good ol' Philadelphia. The Gilded Age was in full effect. The population of Philadelphia broke a million and was continuing to grow rapidly. The richest motherfuckers in America were still living in the city limits and the largest building in the world was being constructed in the center of town.
                     Speculative office building construction was going gangbusters based on the fact that this super-massive city hall was going up. The business district of the city, for decades before based in Old City and later just a little bit west of that, would now move itself over to what was previously a pretty quiet part of town. Not only were they building office buildings, these office buildings were the tallest any Philadelphian had ever seen.
                    The cool thing about this particular building that could never happen today was that it did not have an anchor tenant lined up when it was built. The Land Title and Trust Company just built it on pure speculation, knowing businesses would move in just to be in the new commercial district. They would say, "Fuck the Drexel Building, are you gonna stay in the old business center and not move to a brand new fireproof super-modern skyscraper? Of course not! Move here!".
                    The building started construction based on the kick-ass design from a brand new Philadelphia architect named Henry Lewis Adrien Jekel on February 10th, 1902. The building was so badass that they would name it after the Commonwealth. They called it the Pennsylvania Building.

Under construction.
                        Once built, it became a marvel of the city and the country. It was so fireproof due to it's foot-thick terra cotta floors and water nozzles on every floor that it got its own three-page article in Fireproof Magazine. That's not a joke... there really was a periodical called Fireproof Magazine. It was considered ultra-modern because it had sidewalk lighting, bathrooms on every floor, and what they used to call "Direct Steam Radiation" for heating.

The Pennsylvania Building when it was knew. The cornice is giving you the finger like 100 times. Pic from the Philaphiles over at the PAB.
                    This pile of kick-ass has stayed in continuous use after countless alterations and renovations for 102 straight years... the building's facade is pretty close to the original configuration except for the mangling of the ground floor. This building has managed to keep most of its kick-ass cornice which is rare for buildings of this age.
                    Jekel loved his own design for this so much that he made a smaller version of it for Washington, D.C. five years later called the Westory Building. That building is also still kicking ass and taking names to this day. Jekel wouldn't get anything else built in Philadelphia but went on to design a bunch of shit for San Fransisco, Buffalo, NY, and Riverside, California. Good job, buddy.

The Westory Building, the PA Building's little sis. Picture by StreetsofWashington.