Friday, December 17, 2010

One Meridian Plaza

It's difficult to look at the Residences at the Ritz and picture the charred remains of One Meridian Plaza that loomed over Dilworth Plaza for nearly a decade. Designed by Vincent Kling & Associates, the office building was completed in 1972.

One Meridian Plaza

On February 22, 1991, the a Twelve Alarm Fire broke out on the 22nd floor resulting in the deaths of three firemen. The fire was ultimately fought from the outside because of concerns that the building may have collapsed. The blaze didn't begin to die down until the fire reached the 30th floor and finally set off functioning sprinklers. The fire lasted nearly a full day and damaged neighboring buildings, leading to the demolition of buildings that once occupied the neighboring parking lot, including the 20 story Morris Building.

Fire destroyed eight floors of One Meridian Plaza in February of 1991

An unprecedented disaster, One Meridian Plaza was the tallest building in the world to ever be destroyed by a fire at the time. The eyesore sat vacant for eight years while its owners, E/R Partners, and insurers went to war over its fate. Neighboring property values declined, Chestnut Street shops began to close, the Girard Bank tower's water damage caused most of it to sit vacant for years, and lawsuits claiming losses rained on the owners of the remains.

For nearly a decade, the charred remains of the skyscraper loomed over City Hall, depressing properties values, frustrating politicians, and embarrassing the city.

Beginning in 1998, the unique deconstruction was required because of its proximity to other buildings. It was connected to the Girard Bank tower, currently the Ritz Carlton Hotel, and its scar can still be seen on the hotel's west wall. It was completely removed by 1999 where it sat as a surface parking lot until the Residences at the Ritz opened a year ago.

1 comment:

  1. The three fire fighters who lost there lives were part of a group of courageous heroes that fought the fire from inside the building. They were forced to climb numerous floors (the fire started on 22) wearing full gear & carrying equipment. One positive result of this fire was changes in building codes to help prevent the loss of electrical feeders in the event of a similar fire. Although the building was equipped with an emergency generator to supply power to fire pumps & elevators, it was rendered useless when the feeder wires were destroyed by the fire. If you walk by the Residences at the Ritz, please take note of the commemorative plaque dedicated to the Fire Fighters.