Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Cheesy Corner of 15th and Market

What was once dubbed the "World's Most Elaborate Cheesecake Factory" is now open, complete with valet parking...'cause this ain't the Olive Garden. Anchoring the first floor is a new Verizon store. While Verizon's attempt to rethink cellphone stores as something on scale with Mac, Verizon made no attempt to integrate this location with its unique host. I will give its branded decor one thing: Verizon really knows what people in 1991 thought 2005 might look like.

But the Cheesecake Factory didn't do the building any favors either. Instead of embracing the stellar architecture gracing the corner of 15th and Walnut, the Factory brought in its own branded architecture and slapped it haphazardly on the east end of the facade. 

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson's wild building at 15th and Walnut is already being dubbed the "cheesecake building," and that's unfortunate because nothing about this building says "cheesy." The Factory's culinary standards might be a little higher than the OG or Bertucci's, but when it comes to the company that got its start in Beverly Hills, their corporate standards are on par with Johnny Rocket's. 

The Cheesecake Factory is certainly true to their Los Angelean roots: opulence for the sake of opulence without an ounce of restraint. All it needs is a few faux marble columns and some nondescript Roman statuary. It's not what people think of when they think, "Beverly Hills," it is Beverly Hills.

It's really too bad that Philadelphians only had about a week to appreciate the beauty of this building before it was hijacked by chain-store branding tactics, because what stands before us today pales in comparison to the architecture being masked by kitsch. I get it, corporate businesses want to be seen, and truthfully, this isn't nearly as bad a Time's Square Friday's. But Philadelphians - argue with me if you want - set higher standards for our city's aesthetics than New Yorkers.

At least the Cheesecake Factory didn't build the building at 15th and Walnut or we might have wound up with another Hilton Home2 disaster. But the Factory could have used this unique space to create a unique Cheesecake Factory.

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