In her latest Changing Skyline column, Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron, whose taste is
fairly impeccable, calls the building coming to the 15th and Walnut “visually sublime,” “intellectually rich” and “sophisticated.” Best of all, she says the all-glass, three-story cube will be “one of the city’s finest new buildings.” Not exactly what comes to mind when you think “Cheesecake Factory.”
The building has been designed by Apple Store architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, which has deliberately given this building some weight to make it work within the context of the other buildings on the corner. “Most glass buildings are riffs on lightness,” Saffron writes, “but here the architects intentionally emphasize the thickness of the transparent skin by making deep cuts into the surface.” The firm’s most well-known Philadelphia projects are the Liberty Bell Center and the adaptive reuse LEED-certified renovation of the 30th Street Post Office. It was the recipient of the Good Design Is Good Business Lifetime Achievement Award this year.
The building has not been designed specifically for the Cheesecake Factory; the chain signed on after it was planned by Midwood Investment & Development. The Factory will occupy the second floor, with ground-floor retail to occupy the first (as well as other floors). Japanese apparel company UNIQLO will be one of the tenants. Whatever that turns out to be, the building itself will clearly be an architectural jewel.