Oh here we go... another concrete box from the glorious architectural era of the early 1970s, fucking up what should be a much nicer corner in Center City. Look, I understand that the American Red Cross does a lot of great things and they support themselves entirely with donations and volunteer work. Good for them, I applaud it. If only the local chapter's headquarters building was built in a different era. ANY other era, really. What a shame. This organization deserves better.
They should have left the original building here. What was the original building, you ask? It was a nice little structure called Philadelphia School of Nurses and Central Hospital of Philadelphia, which had a lawn that extended out to the corner of 23rd and Chestnut.
|Corner of 23rd and Chestnut looking east, 1911. PhillyHistory.org|
Regardless of all that bullshit (irregardless?), the building they were in looked cool. So cool, in fact, that even after the hospital/nurses' school went kaput, the building was covered in stucco, new facade details were added, and the lawn was enclosed behind a nice wall for its next job as the Spanish Embassy.
|Yes, this is the same building. The front of it was lobbed off for the widening of the Chestnut Street Bridge in 1911/12. PhillyHistory.org|
Being that it was 1970, the most cutting edge bad ass design anyone could think of was a squat concrete monolith with rows of windows and an indentation on one side of the facade. They made sure to make the thing as anti-pedestrian as possible by including a below-grade surface parking lot and a wide driveway on the 23rd Street side. I will give them a small bit of credit for the plaza at the 23rd/Chestnut corner, only because it sets the building back just about as far as the Central Hospital's lawn was.
|Pedestrian-friendly street level presence by early 70s standards|
|A surviving Oscillocast from The Lindan Collection of Medical Devices.|