Monday, November 17, 2014

Broad and Washington

Thanks to kidphilly on, we know a little more about Bart Blatstein's plans for the long dormant "Cirque Hole" at Broad and Washington. 

While many keep calling this "the next Piazza," I suggest we hang that up. This is not the Piazza. The Piazza is relatively detached from the urban experience. It's insular. If the plan for Broad and Washington happens in its entirety, it could be far more urban than the Piazza ever intended to be.

With two towers roughly thirty stories high, Broad and Washington could carry the city's skyline south while drawing upper South Philadelphia neighborhoods into Center City. One can hope it will also inspire improvements in the vastly suburbanized street scape between South Street and Washington Avenue.

At 750 parking spaces, it can provide some much needed parking for the Italian Market and mobile neighbors.

However, with 1600 residential units, the endeavor is ambitious even for Center City, let alone what is technically part of South Philadelphia. Also, in what are hopefully preliminary renderings, Broad and Washington lacks the Piazza's futuristic architecture brought to us by our own Erdy-McHenry. 

Seriously, the Piazza's concrete walls, angular windows, and Piet Mondrian-esque color blocks are straight out of a Battlestar Galactaca flashback. But at Broad and Washington, save a few floors and it would easily blend in King of Prussia. 

But will its most exciting components even happen, or are they simply being used to pitch what will essentially be a big box retailer on a city street? When the Gallery at Market East, a similar concept, was pitched it included two sleek, albeit bland, towers that never emerged. Will the same "we'll get to it someday" be true of Blatstein's Broad and Washington towers?

What the Gallery at Market East was supposed to be.

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