Midday Headlines: Saffron Says One Water Street Design Isn’t Good Enough

“It may be the most dispiriting apartment facade since you-know-which pink tower on Broad Street.”

Rendering of One Water Street via PlanPhilly

Rendering of One Water Street via PlanPhilly

Better…but not good enough. That’s how Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron feels about the new design for One Water Street, a residential project planned for the north side of the Ben Franklin Bridge by PMC Property Group. So while the developer is aiming for a July groundbreaking — something the Civic Design Review board will determine at a hearing this Tuesday — Saffron has her fingers crossed for it not to happen. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Facade is better than earlier renderings, but still not good enough:

    “Clad in a random pattern of blue and gray aluminum panels, it may be the most dispiriting apartment facade since you-know-which pink tower on Broad Street. The patterning makes no sense, nor does the big flat blank expanse on the all-important Arch Street corner. There is almost zero modulation to give the surface texture and shadow. If it weren’t for the windows, you might mistake it for those mountains of shipping containers you see near ports.”

    That “pink tower on Broad Street” she’s referring to is the Symphony House, which she called “the ugliest new condo building in Philadelphia” back in 2007. Yikes.

  • It doesn’t promote pedestrian life (could a “linear park” along Columbus really be enough?):

    “Just like 1 Water Street, Dockside promised that its ‘public space,’ a plaza featuring a school of swimming fish by sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz, would help make it a destination. But there are plenty of friendlier places to sit and look at the water.”

    So what about restaurants and cafes?

    “[PMC Vice President] Stavin is resistant because he says the location is still too far off the beaten path for foot traffic.”

  • Goes over height limit for no good reason (135ft. on south, 190ft. on north):

    “What does bother me is how PMC managed to legalize the added height using the zoning code’s bonus system. PMC earned an extra 24 feet for creating public space. If the public space were truly usable, OK. But to increase the height for a measly strip of decorative greenery seems excessively generous.”

Proposed building next to Ben Franklin Bridge an improvement, slightly [Changing Skyline]

Moving onto other news...

Architectural Committee rejects concept for Warner Brothers building [PlanPhilly]

Bridgeport delays rental inspection program [Main Line Times]

Port Richmond building to become loft apartments with ZBA blessing [Philly Living]

How a drone is helping restore a historic building in Camden [Technical.ly Philly]

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  • mw91

    The blue and grey facade is referring to 1900 Arch by the same design firm, not the new building. Reread the original article more carefully please

    • ac

      Hmm, I think she’s comparing it to the Symphony House: “it may be the most dispiriting apartment facade since you-know-which pink tower on Broad Street.” A link to it is right underneath the quote.

      • mw91

        Yes, but inga was comparing the varenhorst project at 1900 arch in logan square to symphony house. This post implies the author thinks the blue and grey facade is part of the 1 water proposal

  • Josh Lev

    Not so sure, Inga. The facade is uninspired and not particularly attractive. But it’s not hideous. It’s not really fair to compare it to the monstrosity that is Symphony House.