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Giant Tower of Controversy Gets Thumbs Up From Saffron

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The mixed-use property proposed for Second and Race has had its share of NIMBY naysayers—particularly the Old City Civic Association (OCCA). But one day before the Zoning Board hearing, it seems the tide may be turning on architect Peter Gluck's concept for the Brown/Hill Development space. A big win for the high-rise project is the endorsement by the Inquirer's architecture critic Inga Saffron, who concedes that while OCCA's opposition to similar projects in the past has been justified, its current opposition is misguided. From Saffron's column:

We're told that Old City is a special place, an ensemble of low-rise, early-19th-century buildings, punctuated only by the occasional church steeple. Gluck's 16-story tower, the argument goes, would disrupt its unique skyline and set a dangerous precedent. But, Saffron notes, the placement of the building is not particularly special. In fact, it's on the outskirts of Old City's thriving corridor, a site that leads to a David-Lynch-in-Philadelphia outpost that's disconnected from Center City. The building's massing and materials strategically lighten its feel, and the retail space is designed to integrate the facade with the neighborhood. The line of visibility is acceptable too. All these considerations, and more, make this particular project worth supporting, Saffron writes. "What happens at this site is important for the city," she notes, and if you agree, check out www.205race.com to get more information before the hearing.

· Changing Skyline: Old City plan deserves praise, not opposition [Inquirer]