Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Misleading Renderings

The Preservation Alliance has joined SCRUB in misleading the public with renderings falsely displaying an historic building shrouded in advertising. I have to give them props for using a Krispy Kreme ad in their doctored rendering right in the midst of the sugar tax fiasco.

As I understood the bill, the Lit Brothers building was exempt. However, look closely at the facade next time you walk by it and you'll see the moulding is covered in period signage.

The Preservation Alliance prepared a rendering showing a sixty year old black and white photo of Lit Brothers shrouded in color billboards, including office windows. This is a worst case scenario that will never happen. Not only is Lit Brothers a landmark loved by the city, there are many other locations on Market East more condicive to these advertising schemes, including The Gallery, The Girard Trust Block, and the Disney Hole.

Even if it's not exempt, the public outcry from someone attempting to cover this landmark in billboards would be louder than any irrational rant carried out by SCRUB.

On the roof, however, who cares? If you ask me, that block could use some height. But the Preservation Alliance would like you to believe that the facade, including the office windows, are going to be covered in Revlon ads. Really? That's just ridiculous.

This is our historic corridor of consumerism but it is not Philadelphia's historic core. While it leads tourists to our to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, so does I-95 and Delaware Avenue. There is no endangered history on Market East. With historic churches and theaters decaying all over the city, like SCRUB, the Preservation Alliance's resources are better employed elsewhere.


  1. I'll go ahead and out myself right off the bat-- I'm with the Alliance and I put the rendering together simply to illustrate what was legally allowable under the proposed ordinance. The Alliance does not oppose this bill-- we simply oppose the lack of any language exempting the four buildings already listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places-- Lits, PSFS, Strawbridge, and Reading Terminal. The original version included this exemption, but the amended bill introduced earlier this week removed this language. You are absolutely right that it is a worst case scenario that would probably never happen on this building-- at least not the facade wraps. But what about other historic buildings? The vacant floors of Strawbridges? Why rewrite a bill to even suggest the possibility?
    And re: rooftop signs, I get the argument that there is historical precedent. I don't disagree. But lets be honest-- there is a big difference between those historic rooftop signs, which were always accessory and site-specific, and the large-format advertisements being proposed by this bill. The Hard Rock guitar? I think its great and would love to see more like it on Market. But this bill is written for 1600 square foot electronic billboards, not quirky neon guitars.
    Happily, this argument might be moot, because I understand that Councilman Dicicco agreed today to amend the bill again to exclude the historic buildings from the new district. So we gladly go back to employing our resources elsewhere, and new signs can do their thing on the two buildings the ordinance was was really written for-- the Gallery and the Girard block.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I always appreciated the Alliance as a level headed advocacy group in a city where many tend to get off track. That's why it surprised me that it would join in on a discussion that involved so little physical history.

    I wouldn't want to see Strawbridges shrouded i billboards any more than Lit Brothers. I can't imagine why it would be removed from the exemption. I'm certainly not against preservation. In fact, in addition to those four buildings, I would also like to see the USPS and Robinson's Department Store protected from this bill. As for the rest, light 'em up.

    What irks me is the argument that this is some quaint, Colonial corridor somehow synonymous with the Liberty Bell. Is wasn't, isn't, and never will be. Hopefully if City Council has the common sense to exempt those four buildings, there won't be anything left to argue over.

  3. Agreed. And doubly agreed on Robinsons, though strangely the bill excludes anything with less than 100 feet of frontage. I would LOVE to see Robinsons listed on the Philadelphia Register regardless, but you wouldn't believe the pushback I got after posting this:

  4. I'm surprised you got pushback from that. I find most people - myself included - write the building off as an eyesore until they really look at it, or see it in an old picture. The more I learned about it, the more I began to relate it to the PSFS Building as an architecturally significant site way ahead of its time.

    I tried to write more but Google said it was too long. Guess I'll have to add another post :)

    Great blog by the way, LOVE the drawings!

  5. Robinsons is a fantastic building. This bill is about 95% good and 5% bad. Please don't hold it up, you know it truly determines the life and even deader death of Market street east.