Monday, May 5, 2014

Butt-Fugly Building: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius Building

1701 Market

                 Why the hell does our Central Business District have this shitty fucking box of a building? This antiquated piece of shit with its old timey ribbon windows that aren't even that old! Knock this fucker down and put a real building in its place. This pile of shit had its time in the sun, now it needs its time in Hell. 
                This 248-foot-tall piece of Lego-looking asstrash was once considered quite the important building. At the time construction was about to begin, the future of the infant Penn Center was looking pretty bleak. The Center was already on its second developer, the first one having said "Fuck this shit!" immediately before. Plans for an underground concourse to connect the whole thing (which was planned to have 1000 retail spaces lol) were looking bleak. The plans for 6 Penn Center were going to put the concourse in even more danger, since they called for an underground delivery area that would have blocked any future concourse. Edmund Bacon and his gigantic Kevin Bacon-making cock actually had to get the city's Law Department involved to help make the concourse happen.
              Anyway, 6 Penn Center's ugly ass was complete by the end of 1957. It was to be part of a transportation Super-Block. The Pennsylvania Railroad would have its offices here while the rest of the block would be filled with the world's ugliest bus station. The design came from the Great Satan Vincent Kling, and was basically a box with box-shaped windows. Like he was doing the first drawings on graph paper, got stoned, then just outlined every other square on the paper and drew a box around it out of laziness.

The building in 1958. It was less than a year old in this picture and already looks like crap. The crappy watermark indicating where the picture comes from actually makes the building look better!
               As you can see in the picture above, the original version of the facade was even shittier than it is now. It was built a full block away from the rest of Penn Center, the 1600 block of Market being a big-ass surface parking lot for 8 years afterward.
              While it was known as the Transportation Building, 1701 Market held the Pennsylvania Railroad's offices through their two mergers, becoming Penn Central in 1968 and finally Conrail in 1976. At some point, some of the office floors were made into a 194-car parking garage... I guess they figured with those shit windows no one would know the difference. By the time the 1990s rolled around, Philly had a shitload of office buildings in this area that were about 1000 times better looking and 75000 times more technologically advanced. Conrail ditched the building in 1993 and it stayed empty for years thereafter.
             Finally, in 1997, people started to get sick of having this antiquated butt-fugly building sitting around doing nothing. The conglomeration of owners commissioned Kohn Pedersen Fox to re-design the building to make it look like it might actually be able to get a real company to move in. They ripped the facade out between the windows to create a ribbon window effect, making the building look like it was built in 1958 instead of 1957. The ramp up to the internal parking garage was covered in stainless steel panels. The entire interior was upgraded. It didn't help. The building still manages to look dated as fuck.
            The Morgan, Lewis & Bockius law firm took occupancy of the building in 1998 and was doing well enough by 2001 to eliminate the internal parking garage and add 44,000 square feet of office space to the place. The building is now named after them. It went up for sale in 2004 but no one took the bait.
             This little piece of rhinoceros shit takes up space in a location that should have a much taller, more modern building. It also has a corner retail space on its Market Street side that is chronically unfilled, but I'll be telling y'all about that some other time. Once Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius's lease is up, put this ugly bastard out of its misery.

You can see the covered former parking garage ramp from this angle. You can find two other Butt-Fugly Buildings I've written about before in the background, 1601 and 1635 Market.

1 comment:

  1. From what I recall Morgan Lewis bought the building, to be fully occupied by them, after Conrail was bought out and ceased existence. It was Morgan Lewis who ripped off the really really ugly façade and replaced it with the marginally less ugly one.

    Also from what I recall, it was Morgan Lewis who turned the lower floors into a private parking garage. It was odd a private parking garage being installed at ground zero of a thriving Center City Philadelphia, right over a train station, but hey it was investment.

    There was a great story from the renovation that sadly turned out to be false. It was thought the shitty Elsworth Kelly "art" piece that was in the original lobby was tossed in a landfill since the renovators had no idea it was worth anything, let alone worth so much. It looking like a pointless piece of shit and all. BTW Elsworth Kelly is still around, still sucking. The Barnes recently bought a giant piece of Elsworth Kelly shit for their garden.