Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Philadelphia Skyspire

If you count Camden, the immediate Philadelphia area is currently sitting on three proposed observation towers. Camden's Skyview Tower, Pier 53's Land Buoy, and now the Skyspire in South Philadelphia.

The nerd in me loves these proposals, particularly the former two. They're unique. But my disdain for copycat architecture has some reservations about the Skyspire.

If the Gaming Control Board approves Casino Revolution near Front and Packer, the LoSo Entertainment Center is coming with it. And with LoSo may come a 615 foot structure similar to Seattle's Space Needle, but ten feet taller.

Considering the boon a second entertainment center could bring to the Stadium District, potentially laying the groundwork for a vast entertainment district along Packer Avenue, the Board may consider LoSo Entertainment's connection to Casino Revolution in their decision. 

And they'd be smart to do so.

Two other casinos proposals, the Provence at the old Inquirer Building and Market8 on the Disney Hole, are in Center City neighborhoods that don't want or need a casino. 

Oriental Pearl Tower
A casino along Packer Avenue has always been a no brainer. No one lives there. It's chock full of sports fans spilling into XFINITY Live!, the way gamblers could spill over into LoSo, stepping away from the slots to dine 600 feet above the city with epic skyline views. 

As for the architecture - and the abundance of so many unique structures proposed in a such a short period of time - these three towers could be signaling a desire to uniquely define our skyline in a way that sidesteps Development Hell. They're cheaper than skyscrapers and more unique than rectangular buildings. 

Too many cities in the United States arduously try to emulate Chicago and New York, while cities across the Middle East and Asia look like something out of Blade Runner or The Fifth Element

Let's go for it. 

But don't stop at reinventing the wheel. Look to Shanghai's Oriental Pearl Tower or the Fernsehturm Berlin for inspiration. Mark Philadelphia's skyline with something America has never seen before. Giving those passing through from D.C. to New York a reason to look at our city and wonder, "What's that? Oh, that's Philadelphia. I should check it out."

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