Monday, October 25, 2010

The Granary

Pearl Properties proposed converting The Granary at 20th and Callowhill into a mixed use high rise by adding twelve stories of modern apartments to the top of the silos. While the plan was ultimately denied, and subtly criticized by Inga Saffron, it could open a debate over how and why to preserve historically significant buildings that no longer serve a practical purpose because of elements that serve its historical significance.

The Granary was built by the Reading Company in 1925, and is historically significant because it represents an era that once dominated this neighborhood, an era represented solely by The Granary.

But is it architecturally significant? One can hardly argue the right angles to be design. In fact there really are no artistic elements to this building. It is purpose-built practicality throughout. However, the building's aesthetics are so staunchly preserved that in order to reuse this building, Granary Associates occupies a bevy of windowless floors in order to maintain the gray, concrete facade.

That's quite a sacrifice, to deny architects a view of their city to save a barren wall. Would it really be a preservative sin to allow the few large windows to be replicated on each floor? As something architecturally significant, I can understand this tedious preservation, but as an historical representation of a bygone era, the history lies in its presence and location, not in the detail, or lack thereof.

This building preserves an era that's ending made it impractical. As it stands the Granary stares over our Champs-Élysées, a white elephant amongst meticulously designed museums and parks, but an artistically designed addition could allow it to continue to serve as an historical reminder of a bygone era while adding architectural significance to the location.


  1. I thought The Granary was a condominium? I wonder what they've ever done to Divine Lorraine... I hope it's not a condo!

    PS- Thanks for linking to my blog, but I've changed the name from Rhymes with Hideous to "the Tsaritsa sez." How did you find me?

  2. I believe it used to be condos or apartments on the top few floors, given they are the only floors with windows. The rest of the building is office space. I'd love to see the view from the top. That would be a great place to watch the 4th of July show.

    The Divine Lorraine is gutted and vacant. A European owner was in the process of renovating it into condos and then walked away from it when the economy tanked. It's a shame because the Peace Movement Mission took such meticulous care of it, and now it's just a shell covered in graffiti.

  3. That makes me really angry. Thanks for the update.