John Pron, a former professor of architecture at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, has a problem with Comcast’s burgeoning corporate campus. In an article published in last month’s Art Matters (recently made available online), Diane M. Fiske asks Pron what he thinks of the Norman Foster-designed CITC. Like most, he looks forward to the new building on Arch, even referring to it as “marvelous” and “dramatic.”
But Pron worries about pedestrian life. As it is, he says, pedestrian life between 15th and 30th along the stretches of Market and JFK suffers from little opportunity to connect with pedestrian activity along Arch Street and around Logan Square. Not helping matters is the north/northeast side of Comcast One, whose sidewalk-level design blocks pedestrians from easily entering Market and JFK.
In Pron’s words:
“I’m disappointed in the sidewalk-level design of Comcast One both in terms of a dearth of pedestrian activities as well as a lack in architectural scale.
“If Comcast Two continues that, it will further the setting up of a new, taller ‘Chinese Wall’ [replacing the old Chinese Wall of the railroad line that existed there until the 1950s]. I would wish for some design gestures that invite pedestrians — residents, museum goers, tourists from out of town to feel more invited to move north/south — to live, shop, eat, visit the institutions, and so on. Now, it seems that the glassy wall of Arch Street will continue marching westward.”
Another partial critique was the building’s exterior, which he called “barren, totally in shadow, and scaleless.”