Thursday, February 20, 2014

MIC Tower

Philly Bricks usually breaks out in song anytime a developer dares exceed 200 feet. But the proposed Mellon Independence Center Tower near Market East barely elicits a "meh." The 429 foot mixed use tower designed by Stantec Architecture will be reviewed by the city's Historical Commission next week. You know, the guys who green-lit the demolition of the historic Church of the Assumption and Boyd Theater.

Let's step back though. I'm not mongering fear. Despite the fact that this is being wildly described as a tower above Lit Brothers, it's anything but. The Lit Brothers isn't a building, but a block of buildings tethered together by a century of bureaucracy. What we commonly refer to as "Lit Brothers," its iconic iron facade, will remain untouched however the commission rules.
In fact, Stantec's design is deliberate. Setback from both 7th and Market streets, it will remain largely unseen to pedestrians.

Renderings show the MIC Tower from an angle most can't access. To pedestrians on the sidewalk, the tower will only be visible on Filbert Street.
It's absent presence is evident in the tower's design as well, devoid of detail and color it is intended to fade into the shadows of better buildings. What makes the MIC Tower great is the fact that it isn't. Reminiscent of some of the latter Penn Center towers, it could set a precedent for new highrises in a desolate part of Center City. But hopefully it will also bring with it the adjacent - and better - architecture that masked how awful Penn Center really looks.

Of course Captain Obvious would point to the eight surface parking lots within a block of this site as a better location to build...anything. Unfortunately the politics of parking in Philadelphia is so complicated it has its own TV show.

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