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U-G-L-Y: Seven of Center City's Ugliest Buildings, Mapped

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Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but it seems that ugliness is acknowledged as a far more universal truth. Whether or not everyone thinks these buildings are ghastly menaces to the city's streetscape and skyline, archicritics and Philadelphians alike have noted that these buildings are less than universally pleasing. Here's a map to help you avoid them, or, if you're feeling contrary, you can do a walking tour.


Did we miss a truly revolting monstrosity? Feel as though one of these buildings ought to be struck from the list? Hit the tipline and let us know.

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1. Philadelphia City Hall

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1 Penn Sq
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 686-0321
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Known as the "folly at Broad and Market", City Hall was reviled when it was finally completed 40 years after its construction began. It was referred to as "the monstrous inchoate municipal palace at Broad and Market streets", and as ""The Marble Elephant". The Times once said "It would be a publicservice to blow [the entire building] into fragments with dynamite".

2. The Hale Building

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Chestnut Street & South Juniper Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

The Hale building, designed by Willis G. Hale (the architect behind the design of the Design Lorraine), is a prime example of a "more is more" design philosophy. Not everyone hates it, but those who do really do hate it. Reviewers called it "“Crude…violent…revolting…ignorant…higgledy-piggledy,” and "Absurd…irrational, incongruent and ridiculous…". Of course, the conversion of the first floor to a now defunct Valu-Plus didn't help.

3. Home2 Suites

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1200 Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 627-1850

The new Home2Suites Hotel at 12th and Arch has been widely panned. Hidden City's Nathaniel Popkin said, "the hotel was painfully ugly–an architectural dunghill on what might have been a transformative corner", and Inga Saffron compared it unfavorably to a parking garage.

4. The Robinson Store

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1020 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

One of the buildings on this year's Endangered Properties list from the Preservation Alliance is also one of Philly's ugliest ducklings. The Robinson Store's architecture probably made more sense when a large "Robinson's" sign adorned the front facade. Now it's a weird, windowless concrete wall tacked onto nondescript street level storefronts.

5. Symphony House

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440 S Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19146
(215) 735-3617

Symphony House, a South Broad condo building by developer Carl Dranoff, was completed in 2007. Inga Saffron referred to it as ""a Frankenstein mix of historical elements", "a clumsy, contemporary fake", "decorated with the padded-shoulder pomposity of the Reagan era", and "like a sequined and over-rouged strumpet"

6. Roundhouse

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8th and Race Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Where to begin? Though there are a select few who find the Roundhouse stunning, others, like Philaphilia blogger GroJlart are less fond: "A Police Headquarters that looks like handcuffs. What a fucking joke." It's true that Brutalist architecture (of which The Roundhouse is an excellent example) can be a divisive style. Preservationists and fans of the building say that lots of buildings get demolished a generation after their time, and that people just don't appreciate the Roundhouse yet. There's even a facebook campaign to save it.

7. The Rittenhouse Hotel

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210 W Rittenhouse Square
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 546-9000

The interior is, by all reports, breathtaking, if a bit stodgy. The exterior, however, provides a stark contrast to the lovely Rittenhouse Square. This building was built to provide great views of the park below. Unfortunately, it provides horrible views from the park below.

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1. Philadelphia City Hall

1 Penn Sq, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Known as the "folly at Broad and Market", City Hall was reviled when it was finally completed 40 years after its construction began. It was referred to as "the monstrous inchoate municipal palace at Broad and Market streets", and as ""The Marble Elephant". The Times once said "It would be a publicservice to blow [the entire building] into fragments with dynamite".

1 Penn Sq
Philadelphia, PA 19102

2. The Hale Building

Chestnut Street & South Juniper Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

The Hale building, designed by Willis G. Hale (the architect behind the design of the Design Lorraine), is a prime example of a "more is more" design philosophy. Not everyone hates it, but those who do really do hate it. Reviewers called it "“Crude…violent…revolting…ignorant…higgledy-piggledy,” and "Absurd…irrational, incongruent and ridiculous…". Of course, the conversion of the first floor to a now defunct Valu-Plus didn't help.

Chestnut Street & South Juniper Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

3. Home2 Suites

1200 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

The new Home2Suites Hotel at 12th and Arch has been widely panned. Hidden City's Nathaniel Popkin said, "the hotel was painfully ugly–an architectural dunghill on what might have been a transformative corner", and Inga Saffron compared it unfavorably to a parking garage.

1200 Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

4. The Robinson Store

1020 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

One of the buildings on this year's Endangered Properties list from the Preservation Alliance is also one of Philly's ugliest ducklings. The Robinson Store's architecture probably made more sense when a large "Robinson's" sign adorned the front facade. Now it's a weird, windowless concrete wall tacked onto nondescript street level storefronts.

1020 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

5. Symphony House

440 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19146

Symphony House, a South Broad condo building by developer Carl Dranoff, was completed in 2007. Inga Saffron referred to it as ""a Frankenstein mix of historical elements", "a clumsy, contemporary fake", "decorated with the padded-shoulder pomposity of the Reagan era", and "like a sequined and over-rouged strumpet"

440 S Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19146

6. Roundhouse

8th and Race Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Where to begin? Though there are a select few who find the Roundhouse stunning, others, like Philaphilia blogger GroJlart are less fond: "A Police Headquarters that looks like handcuffs. What a fucking joke." It's true that Brutalist architecture (of which The Roundhouse is an excellent example) can be a divisive style. Preservationists and fans of the building say that lots of buildings get demolished a generation after their time, and that people just don't appreciate the Roundhouse yet. There's even a facebook campaign to save it.

8th and Race Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19106

7. The Rittenhouse Hotel

210 W Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA 19103

The interior is, by all reports, breathtaking, if a bit stodgy. The exterior, however, provides a stark contrast to the lovely Rittenhouse Square. This building was built to provide great views of the park below. Unfortunately, it provides horrible views from the park below.

210 W Rittenhouse Square
Philadelphia, PA 19103