Thursday, April 10, 2014

Raelen's Vine Street Tower

GroJLart's choice words are always welcome in Philadelphia's bizarre and frustrating world of architectural progress. I'm amazed as some of the lost proposals he manages to dig up for Philaphilia, and the most recent is one of my favorites, for two reasons:

One, because I love tall buildings. And two, because I jog past the site every day and always wondered what exactly happened to this block and why it was so awful.

Between 15th and 16th, behind Hahnemann Hospital, is a sidewalk that runs between a parking garage and the Vine Street Expressway's 15th Street (Broad Street) exit ramp. It does nothing but carry me to more scenic jogging routes, but were there more than a parking garage and a surface lot, the space could be an inviting outdoor space for an office complex.

It turns out, that's what it was supposed to be. Unfortunately the small, narrow park space horrifyingly sidles up to the parking garage and a few trees used to stash homeless bindles. If you jog through there after dark, jog fast.

But as GroJLart's crafty paleointernetology managed to unearth, a skyscraping office complex would have, like the Latter Day Saint's recent apartment building proposal, helped bridge the divide of the Vine Street Canyon.

Perhaps the Mormons will help bring the life to Vine Street it needs. Interstate caps and parks are nice thoughts, but nothing helps camouflage dramatic eyesores such as the Vine Street Expressway like equally imposing architecture right next door. The Expressway is no wider than the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Flanked with skyscrapers and high rises, the Canyon would be just another wide boulevard. Although Raelen's design is dated, plenty of skyscrapers date from the 90s and blend in just fine.

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