Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Renaissance Plaza

The site of the proposed Philadelphia World Trade Center has seen yet another redesign, one that only loosely earns its "re."

Now dubbed Renaissance Plaza, the mixed use complex looks a lot like the 90s era proposal for Philadelphia's World Trade Center.

Philadelphia's World Trade Center proposal

Of course there's no question that this site should be developed. It's on Penn's Landing. At this point we should take anything. But the newness of its latest rendering is merely a stunted version of its previous rendering, one which looked a lot like the Trade Center proposal.

Why? As if it isn't bad enough that Carl Marx Real Estate is calling its isolated proposal Renaissance Plaza, a name that immediately conjures up images of Detroit's own urban island complex Renaissance Center, it's simply another incarnation of the Trade Center's bad, suburban design.

Initial, taller proposal for Renaissance Plaza

Carl Marx cut the 430 foot proposal in half and added more retail. But with Waterfront Square dominating the Northern Liberties skyline and SugarHouse fortressed from the street, why bother reducing the number of residents in Renaissance Plaza's towers, housing less residents to shop in its additional retail space?

Carl Marx's Most Recent proposal

Instead of accommodating more shoppers and less residents, Renaissance Plaza could better integrate into the lost fabric of Delaware Avenue's city scape.

It could easily be tall. There's no reason it can't be. But a more urban configuration, one that points towards Center City instead of away from it, could actually attract the customers it needs from its additional retailers from Old City and Northern Liberties.

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