UPDATE (February 2014): The City of Philadelphia has announced that Kimpton Hotels will convert the Family Court Building into a luxury hotel that will preserve the building’s historic interiors and will not involve a rooftop addition. The Alliance applauds both the City and the developer for pursuing a sensitive rehabilitation of this historic landmark.
Significance: Logan Square is home to the greatest concentration of civic architecture in Philadelphia. Among its grandest buildings are the Free Library of Philadelphia (Horace Trumbauer, 1925) and the Family Court Building (John T. Windrim, 1941), twin Beaux Arts palaces modeled after the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The symmetry of these buildings opposite Swan Fountain is one of the most picturesque and character-defining elements of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Threat: With construction of a new Family Court facility now underway, the City of Philadelphia will be inviting proposals from private developers to repurpose the Family Court Building. The most likely new use is a hotel. The parcel’s zoning allows for developments up to 150 in height, which could invite proposals to build on top of the existing building. Though Family Court and its interiors are protected by listing on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, designation alone is not likely to prevent tower addition proposals that would disrupt the symmetry of the Free Library and Family Court buildings, adversely impacting the character of Logan Square.
Recommendations: The City should stipulate in its developer selection process that no rooftop addition to the building will be allowed. While a hotel rehabilitation has the potential to be a successful addition to the cultural vitality of Logan Square, it should not be undertaken at the expense of the building’s architectural integrity. Other reuses that don’t require extensive additions or alterations should be given equal consideration in the City’s developer selection process.
Media coverage of Logan Square and Family Court:
- “The New Life of the Old Family Court (and Its Murals),” Hidden City Daily, June 25, 2014
- “Luxury hotel to replace Family Court,” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 19, 2014
- “Family Court to be redeveloped as Kimpton Hotel,” PlanPhilly, February 19, 2014
- “Court’s art in new light,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 15, 2013