To add insult to injury, corporate design is impossible to reuse. When my hometown decided to expand its county offices, a vacant Safeway was chosen as the site. Even though it was rebuilt complete with a clock tower, Safeway's signature Quonset Hut roof can't be ignored. And who hasn't seen at least one 80's era Bonanza serving as a Chinese buffet?
While many upscale hotels, at least in large urban cores, have chosen to occupy historic office buildings, many others have carried their corporate branding far beyond signage, sharing the same approach as roadside Super 8's. Hilton Home2 Suites at 12th and Arch is no exception.
Not only is Home2's design scene only design in the most technical sense of the word, worse, it doesn't care. It's ugly, deliberately ugly. And why shouldn't it be? People are brand loyal, and for anyone loyal to the Home2 brand, these abominations are impossible to miss. Surrounded by gracefully reused Marriott properties and the respectfully preserved Loew's PSFS Building, Hilton isn't even pretending to care about Philadelphia.
It's irresponsible. To those residing at Home2, it's conveniently located across the street from the Pennsylvania Convention Center and Reading Terminal Market. But those residing at Home2 aren't Philadelphians and will rarely consider that this building is nothing but a middle finger to our portfolio of historic and modern architecture.
The choice of Hilton's executives to use branded design becomes even more insulting when you consider the fact that this was the site of a proposed W Hotel that was (and I never use this world lightly) fabulous. You have to wonder if Hilton's corporate architects even visited the site. But again, this building wasn't designed for Philadelphians, or even with Philadelphians in mind, so why bother? In almost any case, anything is better than a surface parking lot, but perhaps not here.
The W Hotel, once proposed for 12th and Arch.
Community activists routinely protest handsome residential developments, pushing local developers out of town. Yet when a billion dollar corporation decided to drop this bomb at a major intersection, a corporation that can afford to employ better design, our voices were silent. The fact that a parking garage that recently opened chose to grace its façade with an ounce of pizazz is all you need to know to recognize that this hotel is an absolute disaster.