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The "Roundhouse" Brutalist-era building that has long been loved and loathed by Philadelphians.
The "Roundhouse" Brutalist-era building that has long been loved and loathed by Philadelphians.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The 15 ugliest buildings in Philadelphia

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The "Roundhouse" Brutalist-era building that has long been loved and loathed by Philadelphians.
| Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

"Everyone is entitled to their opinions."

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, we present: The 15 ugliest buildings in Philadelphia, nominated by you, dear readers.

Last month for an open thread discussion we posed the question: What's the ugliest building in Philadelphia? Comments rolled in on both the thread as well as throughout the social media universe—and people did not hold back. Given the amount of feedback, we compiled the top 15 buildings that folks were most up in arms about, and stayed away from single homes or smaller developments (for what it's worth, there were a lot of those). We should note, too, that these buildings are not listed in any particular order.

So what say you? Agree? Disagree? Think another one should be added to the list? Leave a comment, or head over to our tipline!

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Meyerson Hall

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"Let's just say, it didn't come from a great period of American architecture." Those words came straight from the mouth of former PennDesign dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor in a 2015 video describing the future of Meyerson Hall. Said one commenter, "The irony that is the Design School being located in a terribly designed building takes the cake." Even Louis Kahn was said to have refused to teach in his classes in the building because it was "without merit."

Over the past few years there have been a number of interior renovations with the hope of transforming the concrete box into an updated, state-of-the-art design school.

Philadelphia Municipal Services Building

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This building across from City Hall is both liked and loathed. Haters point out that one problem is that the large concrete plaza, which served as a main protest site during the DNC—sits above street level. The interiors aren't any more beloved either, says one commenter: "Even worse is when you have to go inside it."

But when it was built in 1962, one awards jury touted its ability to provide 500,000 square feet of office space and a gathering space around City Hall.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Sure, PECO provides thousands of Philadelphians with electricity, but that doesn't mean people have to like their headquarters. The PECO building was built in 1970, but what it lacks in color it makes up in its notorious LED light display banner that scrolls the time, temperature, and other messages 24/7. Another fun fact: It features the biggest green roof in Philadelphia.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Symphony House

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As one reader put it, this one was a "no-brainer." The Dranoff condo building was called a "monstrosity" by Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron when it was built in 2008 for $130 million. At the time, the building's design aimed to infuse the era of the 1920s with the 21st century.

AT&T Communications Building

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Google "AT&T Building" and you'll see that people have been wondering "what is UP with" this building for quite some time now. Designed by Ewing, Cole, Erdman and Eubank, the AT&T Building, also known as the Telephone Exchange Building, is a mostly windowless structure that sits right on the edge of South Street Bridge. Said one commenter, "I can just see the pitch, 'And the best part is, no windows!'"
Courtesy of Google Streetview

Guild House

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Yes, this is a Venturi-designed postmodern building. And yes, readers do think it's worthy of this list. It was the first major work of Robert Venturi when he designed it for senior citizen housing in 1960. Of the post-modern building, Venturi admitted, "Economy dictated not 'advanced' architectural elements, but 'conventional' ones. We did not resist this."

Robinson Building

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When the Robinson Building was built in 1946, it was a midcentury modern gem of a department store. Unfortunately, the building on Market Street has not aged well over the years, which may be one reason why one commenter called it "historically ugly." Recently, though, it was added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.
Courtesy of Google Streetview

One and Two Commerce Square

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These two towers received critical praise when they were first built in the 1990s. Designed by IM Pei & Partners, they were the last two skyscrapers to be built until the Cira Centre in 2005. Today, though, some readers think they're just too dated. Said one commenter, "Oafy and drab but the worst part is the juvenile square/circle shape decoration."
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Samuel Paley Library

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There were a couple of nominations for buildings on Temple's campus, including the Samuel Paley Library. The good news is that the university's new Snohetta-designed library across the street will be the complete opposite of the windowless building when it opens in fall 2018.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Aramark Tower

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The Aramark Tower was built in 1984 for its namesake company. Of the 32-story building, one commenter said, "The Aramark Tower is as gaudy on the inside as it is lumbering on the outside."
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

One Parkway

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"The city building is just plain dingy" and looks like a "high-rise prison," one commenter said of the metallic building on 16th and Arch. The 18-story high-rise was designed by Francis Cauffman Foley Hoffman and originally served as the headquarters for Bell Telephone Company. It moved out after three decades while municipal offices moved in.
Flickr user It's Our City

United States Mint

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This brutalist building spans an entire block, with its main entrance on Independence Mall. The unfortunate part of the design, readers pointed out, is that it's windowless on every other side of the building, which makes for a long, drab walk on 4th and Arch streets.
Courtesy of Google Streetview

Philadelphia Police Department Headquarters

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There's no denying that the home of the Police Headquarters is unusual. Designed by Geddes, Brecher, Qualls and Cunningham, the Brutalist building was dedicated in 1963 and has been despised by many ever since. But with the police's planned move to West Philly, some preservationists are campaigning for the building to be saved, regardless of whether folks love or loathe the curved structure.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

2400 Chestnut

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Multiple nominations came in for 2400 Chestnut Street, with one commenter saying the 34-story apartment building "completely ruins the skyline." Interestingly enough, a Frank Furness-designed train station used to sit on this very same corner.

A photo posted by Wes (@someguyinphilly) on

Family Court of Philadelphia

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Right next door to One Parkway is the Family Court of Philadelphia, the most recent city-building constructed in the last two decades. One commenter said it will likely look dated in 20 years, but was most concerned that it obstructs the view the Art Deco Metropolitan apartment building on 15th Street. "For that reason alone, I really hate the Family Court Building," he said.
Courtesy of Google Streetview

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Meyerson Hall

"Let's just say, it didn't come from a great period of American architecture." Those words came straight from the mouth of former PennDesign dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor in a 2015 video describing the future of Meyerson Hall. Said one commenter, "The irony that is the Design School being located in a terribly designed building takes the cake." Even Louis Kahn was said to have refused to teach in his classes in the building because it was "without merit."

Over the past few years there have been a number of interior renovations with the hope of transforming the concrete box into an updated, state-of-the-art design school.

Philadelphia Municipal Services Building

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
This building across from City Hall is both liked and loathed. Haters point out that one problem is that the large concrete plaza, which served as a main protest site during the DNC—sits above street level. The interiors aren't any more beloved either, says one commenter: "Even worse is when you have to go inside it."

But when it was built in 1962, one awards jury touted its ability to provide 500,000 square feet of office space and a gathering space around City Hall.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

PECO

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Sure, PECO provides thousands of Philadelphians with electricity, but that doesn't mean people have to like their headquarters. The PECO building was built in 1970, but what it lacks in color it makes up in its notorious LED light display banner that scrolls the time, temperature, and other messages 24/7. Another fun fact: It features the biggest green roof in Philadelphia.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Symphony House

As one reader put it, this one was a "no-brainer." The Dranoff condo building was called a "monstrosity" by Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron when it was built in 2008 for $130 million. At the time, the building's design aimed to infuse the era of the 1920s with the 21st century.

AT&T Communications Building

Courtesy of Google Streetview
Google "AT&T Building" and you'll see that people have been wondering "what is UP with" this building for quite some time now. Designed by Ewing, Cole, Erdman and Eubank, the AT&T Building, also known as the Telephone Exchange Building, is a mostly windowless structure that sits right on the edge of South Street Bridge. Said one commenter, "I can just see the pitch, 'And the best part is, no windows!'"
Courtesy of Google Streetview

Guild House

Yes, this is a Venturi-designed postmodern building. And yes, readers do think it's worthy of this list. It was the first major work of Robert Venturi when he designed it for senior citizen housing in 1960. Of the post-modern building, Venturi admitted, "Economy dictated not 'advanced' architectural elements, but 'conventional' ones. We did not resist this."

Robinson Building

Courtesy of Google Streetview
When the Robinson Building was built in 1946, it was a midcentury modern gem of a department store. Unfortunately, the building on Market Street has not aged well over the years, which may be one reason why one commenter called it "historically ugly." Recently, though, it was added to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.
Courtesy of Google Streetview

One and Two Commerce Square

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
These two towers received critical praise when they were first built in the 1990s. Designed by IM Pei & Partners, they were the last two skyscrapers to be built until the Cira Centre in 2005. Today, though, some readers think they're just too dated. Said one commenter, "Oafy and drab but the worst part is the juvenile square/circle shape decoration."
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Samuel Paley Library

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
There were a couple of nominations for buildings on Temple's campus, including the Samuel Paley Library. The good news is that the university's new Snohetta-designed library across the street will be the complete opposite of the windowless building when it opens in fall 2018.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Aramark Tower

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The Aramark Tower was built in 1984 for its namesake company. Of the 32-story building, one commenter said, "The Aramark Tower is as gaudy on the inside as it is lumbering on the outside."
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

One Parkway

Flickr user It's Our City
"The city building is just plain dingy" and looks like a "high-rise prison," one commenter said of the metallic building on 16th and Arch. The 18-story high-rise was designed by Francis Cauffman Foley Hoffman and originally served as the headquarters for Bell Telephone Company. It moved out after three decades while municipal offices moved in.
Flickr user It's Our City

United States Mint

Courtesy of Google Streetview
This brutalist building spans an entire block, with its main entrance on Independence Mall. The unfortunate part of the design, readers pointed out, is that it's windowless on every other side of the building, which makes for a long, drab walk on 4th and Arch streets.
Courtesy of Google Streetview

Philadelphia Police Department Headquarters

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
There's no denying that the home of the Police Headquarters is unusual. Designed by Geddes, Brecher, Qualls and Cunningham, the Brutalist building was dedicated in 1963 and has been despised by many ever since. But with the police's planned move to West Philly, some preservationists are campaigning for the building to be saved, regardless of whether folks love or loathe the curved structure.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

2400 Chestnut

Multiple nominations came in for 2400 Chestnut Street, with one commenter saying the 34-story apartment building "completely ruins the skyline." Interestingly enough, a Frank Furness-designed train station used to sit on this very same corner.

A photo posted by Wes (@someguyinphilly) on

Family Court of Philadelphia

Courtesy of Google Streetview
Right next door to One Parkway is the Family Court of Philadelphia, the most recent city-building constructed in the last two decades. One commenter said it will likely look dated in 20 years, but was most concerned that it obstructs the view the Art Deco Metropolitan apartment building on 15th Street. "For that reason alone, I really hate the Family Court Building," he said.
Courtesy of Google Streetview