Monday, May 4, 2015

Butt-Fugly Building: Seaman's Church Institute

475 North 5th Street

             Jesus Christ, what an ugly piece of shit. I understand that its in the Franklin-Callowhill Industrial District so I'm not supposed to expect greatness, but if you're gonna obliterate an entire neighborhood to build industrial garbage with huge surface parking lots in between, at least try to make it look nice!
           Before this building was here, the southern part of the original version of Northern Liberties was an actual neighborhood. York Avenue, the diagonal main street of the district, ran right through the middle of where this building is now.

The area just north of this shitty building, mid 19th Century or so. Library Company of Phila via
           Around 1970, the Franklin-Callowhill Industrial District was created in order to create a manufacturing/warehousing district in the middle of city and supposedly create all kinds of jobs for nearby residents. It was a failure in almost every respect-- urban planning-wise, revitalization-wise, manufacturing-wise... there's not much else to say about it.
          In 1983, the construction of crappy short industrial buildings there wasn't done yet. In that year, Altman Brothers Inc out of Glenside, PA proposed a 23,000 Sq Ft juggernaut of ugly called the East Callowhill Industrial Building (real creative). The unfortunate design was by Theodore Brandow of Brandow Design Associates.
         The facade appears to be that corduroy pants-looking cladding used on all of the worst buildings I've ever seen. The openings in the facade are big and round with some kind of brown stone trim. Its not visible in the pic above but the facade rounds out at the north and south corners. It was 1984, people. Even I have to give them some leeway for that.
         After the building was finished in 1984, its first tenant was COFCO Group, a.k.a. the Commercial Office Furniture Company. They eventually added to the building and installed a mezzanine/2nd floor office space. In 2002, they sold the place for $2.4 Million to the Seaman's Church Institute of Philadelphia, an ancient organization that deals with support of seafarer's and maritime-related crap. They started in Philly way back in 1843 in a goddamn floating chapel!
          Today, the Seaman's Church Institute shares the building with Color Reflections, a digital imaging company that printed out large images of a fish and some water to cover those big-ass round windows. I guess they didn't want any sun coming in and fucking their shit up.
            As ugly as this pile of shit is, I wish I could say it was the worst-looking building in the shitbag Franklin-Callowhill Industrial District. If you ever have a chance, take a walk around there and check out what a real urban planning mistake looks like up close. You can check out Silk City when you're done, but be careful to put the ugliness of the neighborhood out of your mind before macking on their incredible Silk Cakes.

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