Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pa. Convention Center Approval Revoked

It's pretty clear that Pennsylvania officials didn't bargain on a public fuss when they decided unilaterally to tear down the two protected Broad Street buildings that were supposed to be part of the expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center. Nor, I suspect, did they expect any trouble from one of Philadelphia's more obscure agencies, The Philadelphia Art Commission.

But now the project's architects have some explaining to do.

The art commission wants to see the revised design for the facade - sans the Philadelphia Life Insurance Co. headquarters - before it will allow the $700 million mega-project to receive a building permit. That's sort like having your dam project derailed by a snail darter.

The art commission, which is charged with reviewing designs for all publically funded buildings, approved the center's new Broad Street facade in February 2007. But once the state Department of General Services edited out the two historic buildings, the commission felt the facade design had been radically altered. The two masonry buildings, including Romaldo Giurgola's landmark 1962 addition, were supposed to anchor the southern end of the airport-modern facade.

What will take their place? Will the glass curtain wall be drawn across the ugly gap? Will the gap be converted into a pocket park, as the Convention Center's Al Mezzaroba promised? Will the space be left as a refuge for the homeless? No one knows. And that's why the art commission is asking to review the new design, said director William J. Burke Jr.

Burke sent a letter dated Feb. 11 to Vitetta's Richard Holland, who is responsible for that part of the design. There's been no response yet. The earliest that Vitetta can show the revised facade to the art commission is at March 5 meeting.

But that would presume that someone has actually produced design drawings to fill in the gap.

Until that happens, no art commission approval, no building permit - and no new convention center.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back it's been two months!!

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will the person who revised the plan with out proper authorization be fired?

This will probably end up costing millions in delay and lawyer fees.

Way to go Harrisburg

7:35 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

This entire situation is a disgrace. This city lost 2significant and notable architectural treasures with this move. The heedless rush to obliterate these buildings especially in the face of so much civic outcry is criminal. This move mkaes me sick of all the fat cat politicing going on at the expense of common sense.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the news. Maybe insult won't be added to our civic injury.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Captain America said...

And the Race St. Firehouse will still be torn down in a final disgrace.
If a building has any historic value this one sure does. It was The Fire Department Headquarters during one of the most most significant periods of the city and the Departments history.
Instead of using it f to build a world class Fire Museum it will be lost forever. It could easily be used to bring tourists from all over the country as well as serve as a draw for conventions. It is a registered historic building. I guess that doesn't mean musch.

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pardon my ignorance is a snail darter?

2:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where at war! A permit! Where talking about an permit?

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an opportunity for Mayor Nutter to step in and give directives to keep things moving along. Yes it's sad that the facades are gone and it was underhanded in how it all happened, but moving forward is what's needed for the city.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that they have to redesign the facade, how about asking the architect to add a green roof too? I could trade the loss of historical buildings for less energy use in the future...

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Wes said...

I'm surprised the PCC hasn't had plans sans these too buildings laying around for years. They new they were going to get them down from day 1. You know they're next move will be to either "accidentially" compromise the highrise at Broad and Arch or let it decay to a point it's "unrepairable". I'd like to see the PAC refuse approval for any design that doesn't incorporate at least the facade of the firehouse. I gotta say, it's nice to see the snail playing dirty.

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Broad Street facade is going to represent an airport terminal, can it be wrapped by the stain-glass window left over from the American Airlines’ old JFK Terminal?

The window is longer than the length of a football field.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's amazing how people who think they know better, actually knows the least. I know it's just a blog, but do you think that money that just grows on trees? Everytime there is a delay, YOUR tax dollars are wasted, and MORE jobs are NOT created.

What OTHER industry is there that's clamouring to open up business here in the region with it's political Red Tape and NIMBY attitude??

I'm all for saving buildings, and it's a crime that the buildings were torn down the way they are...
but to try and STOP projects that will benefit us ALL is just as big a crime.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Davis said...

The delays were not caused by preservationists, but by the underhanded way the convention center has behaved.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much was paid to KM Architects to do the restoration work for these demolished buildings? Emanuel Kelly sits on the Art Commission. Inga.... you should look into this as more "pay to play".

10:56 AM  

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