Thursday, August 16, 2012

Butt-Fugly Public Art of the Week-- August 16th

Unnamed 9/11 Memorial

Schuylkill Banks just south of Chestnut Street Bridge

              Well, we all knew something like this was coming. For the last 10 years, pieces of the World Trade Center have been sold by the NY/NJ Port Authority for use as memorials in cities, towns, and villages across America. Supposedly, over 400 memorials have been created from the structural steel of the WTC. This doesn't really make any single piece of WTC steel special-- yet here we are, a brand new not-yet-dedicated 9/11 memorial using structural steel in Philadelphia in 2012.
             Worse yet, its in the Schuylkill River Park/Trail, one of the city's best amenities. The first time I saw this thing, I didn't know it was a 9/11 memorial.. I had seen it from the Chestnut Street Bridge and that little flag wasn't there. From that vantage-point, it just looks the pedestal for some unfinished piece of public art.

From the Chestnut Street Bridge.
               Only when you get close to it do you know what the fuck its for. Its a sad piece... a short girder of steel sinking into a granite slab with the names of some locals who died in the incident. That's pretty much it.
              Look, I'm not saying that a 9/11 Memorial should be this big bombastic ostentatious thing with penises everywhere, but anything's gotta be better than this.. especially since there's so many similar memorials elsewhere. On their website, the Schuylkill River Development Corp says that they had acquired the steel and had the memorial designed by the Wells Appel firm.

Pics from the Schuylkill Banks website showing construction of the memorial.
                   But that's not all... there's ANOTHER 9/11 Memorial in the works for Philly, and yet AGAIN it will be using structural steel from the WTC. This one will take up the southeast corner of Franklin Square and will be a great clash of two cliches-- steel from the WTC and yet another depiction of the Liberty Bell.

Rendering from the Philly 9/11 website.
                    In this one, the pedestal will be a giant Pennsylvania keystone shape with steel from the WTC, limestone from the Pentagon, and soil/stone from the PA crash site. The towers will be depicted in stone. In the middle will be a half-size replica of the Liberty Bell. The crack of the bell will be filled with WTC Steel. A non-profit called Philly 9/11 is in the midst of collecting donations for the memorial, calling the concept "Mending Liberty". I don't know how long they've been trying to get this built, but their website looks like it was made on 9/12.
                 As corny as the Philly 9/11 version of a memorial seems, its leaps and bounds more interesting than that single short piece of steel on a granite pedestal at the Schuylkill Banks. The Philly 9/11 website also says that the piece's design is subject to change-- so hopefully it changes alot. The victims of 9/11 deserve a proper memorial in Philadelphia, lets hope we get a better one some time soon. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Parking Garage of the Week-- August 15th

Five Star Parking 7th and Market

618 Market Street

            What a sad-looking dreary-ass cement dungeon this piece of shit is. This crappy parking garage has been infecting the corner of 7th and Market with its tarnished facade and shitbag storefronts for nearly 50 years. Its time to put this pile of shit out of its misery.
             What kind of thing is this to have in our primary tourist area? You walk half a block past Independence Mall on Market Street and you can already see Market East-level shittyness. What a disaster. Eliminate this shit!! What happened to that zoning bill for large lit-up signage on Market Street buildings from 7th to 13th Street? It was approved in June of last year... this crap garage qualifies for some big obnoxious ads-- DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!
           In 1964, the Redevelopment Authority was sitting on a bunch of old buildings at the corner of 7th and Market... there were the ruins of the theatre, a few unremarkable commercial buildings, and a very very lost Willis G. Hale building.

Willis G. Hale aint nuthin to fuck with.
                     That building was the Claxton, Remsen, and Haffelfinger Publishing Company. William Weightman, super-rich motherfucker extraordinaire, paid for the design and construction of this kick-ass structure just because he was friends with Edmund Claxton and the publishing company needed more space. Weightman got his favorite architect, Willis G. Hale, to design it. By the time the RDA had a hold of it, the building was probably all jacked up and barely recognizable.
                   Three groups of folks were into the available space. The Atwater Kent Museum (now Philadelphia History Museum, still has that shitty logo) next door proposed an expansion that would reach all the way to the corner of 7th and Market, a Society Hill developer wanted the land on which to... well, develop, and the Rohm and Haas International HQ Building under construction next door wanted the land for a parking garage. Guess who won?
                   Ever since, this shitbag garage has made the southeast corner of 7th and Market a pile of orangutan ballsweat. In 2003, in an attempt to de-uglify the side and back of the garage, Rohm & Haas paid for a mural illustrating the tree-named streets. It is known as Tree Walk.

It goes around the back too... you get the idea.
                Rohm & Haas hasn't owned the garage for a long time-- they don't even own themselves anymore, they are now part of Dow Chemical. The current owner of the garage is based in NYC and spent $6,655,000 on it in 1997. I wonder if this owner knows anything about the lit-up advertising bill? Either way, its gonna take one hell of an ad to make this crap garage look good. 
              In short, fuck this garage. This thing is currently zoned C-5, which means its taking up the space that should be used by a tall-ass skyscraper. Under the new zoning code, the site will be zoned Super CMX-5, which means it will be taking the place of an even bigger tall-ass skyscraper. DESTROOOOOYYYYYYYYYY!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dead-Ass Proposal of the Week-- August 14th

First Version of Station Square

2900 block of Market Street

                     This proposal isn't exactly dead-- it was just executed in a very shoddy and half-assed way. The little area between 30th Street station and the old post office/current IRS Building has always been a pile of shit. There's not much that could be done with it-- the entire section is a gigantic bridge deck with railroads running underneath. Though the Porch isn't half bad, its not 1/10th of the original plan.
                      Read more at the Philadelphia Citypaper's Naked City Blog!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mystery Building of the Week-- August 13th

!!!??!?!?!?!? Building

132 North 10th Street

This pic is from a few months ago-- a new storefront is now on the 10th Street side.
                     Chinatown is chock full of mystery buildings and this one is no different. While other matching buildings from the same neighborhood are lost but known, this one still stands and is unknown. What a pain in the ass.
                    The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has nothing about this building except that it was once a factory and it MIGHT HAVE been built in 1885. Other than that, nothing-- nobody else ever mentions this thing, other than some of the old storefront tentants. The design looks right for that time period but no architect linked with this address can be found. The building looks more or less unaltered (except for having storefronts running down all sides) but the cornice looks muted as if there was once something up there.

Pretty much the only old pic of the !?!?!?!? Building, behind that parking kiosk in this pic from 1954.
                The ?!?!!?!?!?!?! Building has had the same owner since 1971, who bought the place for $1. The place looks like it might have apartments up top but I think they might actually be commercial offices, at least on the second floor. The architect did a pretty good job for a building of this type... too bad we'll never know who the fuck it was!!!
             Seriously, I have nothing else to say about this motherfucker. Its so much of a mystery that I have pretty much nothing else to offer in the way of info. Does ANYONE know where the fuck this building came from? What it was for? Who designed it? and What the fuck!?!?!?!?