Monday, November 10, 2014

Butt-Fugly Building: Free Library of Philadelphia Charles Santore Branch

932 South 7th Street

             Fuck this bomb-shelter looking piece of shit right here. I don't care how much people might like it. This 51-year-old asspile is just yet another mid-century building in the city that proves, like many others, that these type of designs don't stand the test of time-- not in Philadelphia, anyway.
            There isn't much to say on the history of this place. It is the sequel to a much nicer 1911-built building that still stands at 5th and Ellsworth. This uglier one was proposed and designed in 1960 under designs from a crap firm called Eshbach, Pullinger, Stevens, Bruder. This firm did a lot of fucking damage to this city. Their other masterpieces include the 9th District Police Station/Rodin Place shopping center/parking garage at 20th and Hamiltion, the Orlowitz Residence Hall at 10th and Locust, and all of the UGLIEST 1960s/70s buildings on the Penn campus, which is saying something.

 Pic by Austin Murphy, Creative Commons License etc etc
            Talk about a building that doesn't fit with its surroundings. Great old brick rowhouses, churches, and schools as you walk around this hood, then you happen upon this goddamn concrete bunker and just yell "WHAT THE MOTHERFUCK!?!?!?" to the sky. It fits less into the neighborhood than the bright red awning of the pizza place across the street. What the fuck were they thinking with this design? It seems to be this common institutional theme from the mid 20th Century where they would make this pentagon shape like when a 5-year-old draws and house and run it over and over again down the street.

The logo of the Capital Area Head Start program looks mysteriously like the Charles Santore Branch

                You can also find this architectural theme in the design of some of the Rec Centers around the parts of the city the vast majority of you will never go. What a bunch of garbage. This 7,700 square foot Free Library branch broke ground on July 11th, 1962 and opened on November 1, 1963 as the Southwark Branch, again the sequel to a much awesomer building of the same name. Oh, did I mention what they demolished to build this piece of shit here?

Early 1962 pic of the awesome fire/police station destroyed to make way for this mess. 
The short time between the demolition of the old and the building of the new. If only they knew.
             The library went through a major renovation in 1998 when all 52 library branches were cleaned up and given internet access. On March 26, 2004, they insulted the shit out of the memory of Charles Santore, former boxer, Republican Ward Leader, and union local founder by naming the ugliest building in his whole neighborhood after him. There was another small renovation in 2010.
              I'm sure the community likes this place and that the library itself is just fine, but what a piece of fuck architecturally. Why the white walls at the corner? All the oddly-shaped rooms on the inside? I feel bad for the residents of Beulah Street who have the back of this shitty building across the street from their front doors.

The original blueprint via the Free Library of Philadelphia. In the 60s they thought having a bunch of slanted walls everywhere was the way to go.
                Look, the predecessor of this library was 52 year old when this place was built. This one is 51 years old now. That means, if we're going to follow to same pattern, a replacement of this building is due. Not that the city will be building new library buildings any time soon. Do this motherfucker a favor and put it out of its goddamn misery. Harrumph.

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