All this guilt aside, the PSFS (Philadelphia Savings Fund Society) is, in fact, one of the beautiful structures I have ever seen. The best? Not quite, but nothing ever trumps your first love. (Oh The East Gallery by I.M. Pei! Why must you always break my heart?) So let’s do a little bit of background:
This building was originally conceived in the 1920s, when architecture was about the power of money. If you had a successful company why not show it off and publicly announce your means. This was the age of great sky scrapers and grander ambitions. Buildings were the same thing as a new Rolls Royce or a trophy wife. And the PFSF wanted the hottest chick there was.
ENTER Howe and Lescaze or Howe I Met My Partner
William Lescaze was a Swiss-born American architect who moved to
George Howe was about as American as hot-dogs and baseball. Educated at Harvard, and then later Ecole de Beaux arts, he received some initial influence from the infamous Furness, Evans & Co, which undoubtedly taught him the importance of human scale. He also served in World War I which lumps him in with those “lost generation” dudes.
They teamed up just before submitting a bid for the PSFS and lo, the dark horse won.
However, during the construction the market crashed and slowed construction significantly, the building was finally finished in 1932 and the HUGE neon sign emblazoned the sky to inspire the people of
It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s.
Having entered it from several different angles (that’s what he said) during the course of my stay. I can safely attest that every initial impression is one of elegance and intrigue. When you first come in there is immediately a sense of being pulled into a scene where you are a character of some importance. The sharp clean marble, the bony lines, and powerful thrusts of cantilevers that hum a low tune, it’s all there for you to be more important than you may actually be, which is what you want when you’ve been traveling.
Traveling makes you alien, you almost want to be forgotten so reinvention becomes more believable. By being in a smart and sophisticated place, you too feel smart and sophisticated.
The place I most fell in love with was the 33rd floor, which has wide-glass and an almost unobstructed view of
On the exterior there is a nod to the art-deco vogue but there are also the early signs of international style, no doubt brought over from
The street level is addressed by one large dark pull that stretches like licorice taffy. This move addresses the curb in a friendly way, welcoming you in but reminding you not to touch anything that looks expensive.
The only criticism is that the flow of interior spaces is a little jarring, like they were planning on it being wider and then had to skew their design to fit the requirements.
In conclusion: It’s a Pretty Sweet Freakin’ Structure.