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What Could Norman Foster Bring to Philadelphia?

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News broke last week that world-renowned architecture firm Foster + Partners has been commissioned for a potential new skyscraper on a narrow lot at 18th & Arch Streets -- a promising move that could implant a modern masterpiece into Philadelphia's skyline.

Knighted "the Mozart of modernism" by The New Yorker's architecture critic Paul Goldberger, famed architect Norman Foster's buildings famously intertwine classical elements of nature with the form and functionality of progressive high-rise design. With any luck, Foster might soon be on his way to Philadelphia, so Curbed brings you an international map of the firm's finest work to offer a sense of his style and potential vision for Center City.

The lot in question happens to be the site of the once-greenlighted American Commerce Center, which would have topped out at a grandiose 1,510 feet and brought Philadelphia to the forefront of the international high-rise scene. The ACC fell apart alongside the economic collapse in 2008, and the project's gravesite has been used as surface parking for the past several years.

While it's far too early to know exactly what will develop at this site, this is undoubtedly one of the most exciting architectural developments for Philadelphia in recent memory. Based on its portfolio, Foster + Partners is endowed with the power to transform a city's energy and optimism by deconstructing and reinventing the modern skyscraper with minimal input from the rulebooks.


Is Foster + Partners the right designer for Center City's skyline? Sound off in the comments section and tell us what you want to rise at 18th & Arch Streets.

[Please note that some mapped addresses are approximate.]
· A Foster for Philadelphia [HiddenCity]

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1. HSBC Building, Hong Kong

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1 Queen's Road Central
Central, Hong Kong

Completed: 1985
Floors: 44
Height: 587 ft
Trivia: Gigantic mirrors inside the atrium conserve energy by channeling natural sunlight throughout the building, despite the smog.

[Image courtesy skyscrapercity.com]

2. Commerzbank Tower, Frankfurt

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Kaiserstraße 1
60311 Frankfurt, Germany

Completed: 1997
Floors: 56
Height: 985 ft
Trivia: Germany's first steel-framed skyscraper and considered the world's first eco-friendly highrise.

[Image courtesy Roland Meinecke, Wikimedia Commons]

3. Al Faisaliyah Center, Saudi Arabia

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Completed: 2000
Floors: 44
Height: 876 ft
Trivia: The building's four corners meet to house a giant golden ball near the apex, which features a revolving restaurant inside.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

4. City Hall, London

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A200, London Borough of Southwark
London SE1, UK

Completed: 2002
Floors: 10
Height: 148 ft
Trivia: Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone described this building as a "glass testicle." Its shape actually makes it rather energy inefficient.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

5. HSBC Tower, London

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8 Canada Square, London
Greater London E14, UK

Completed: 2002
Floors: 45
Height: 656 ft
Trivia: One of Foster's more modest designs, this is the fourth-tallest building in the United Kingdom and features 1.1 million sq ft of office space.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

6. Swiss Re Headquarters, London

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30 Saint Mary Axe, London
Greater London EC3A 8AF, UK

Completed: 2003
Floors: 41
Height: 591 ft
Trivia: Also known as "The Gherkin," this is one of the finest examples of modern architecture, which recently sold for just over $1 billion in 2007.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

7. Moor House, London

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120 London Wall, London
Greater London EC2Y 5ET, UK

Completed: 2004
Floors: 19
Height: 276 ft
Trivia: Just 19 stories above ground, its foundation burrows another 19 stories below street level to accommodate future London Tube stations.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

8. Millau Viaduct, France

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D992
12100 Creissels, France

Completed: 2004
Length: 8,070 ft
Height: 1,125 ft
Trivia: A rare infrastructure project by Foster, this four-lane bridge is widely considered one of the greatest engineering feats in modern history.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

9. Deutsche Bank Place, Sydney

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126 Phillip Street
Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Completed: 2005
Floors: 39
Height: 784 ft
Trivia: Foster's only building in the Southern Hemisphere. It was originally planned to be much taller, hence the oversized twin spires.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

10. Hearst Tower, New York City

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300 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

Completed: 2006
Floors: 46
Height: 597 ft
Trivia: Earned a LEED Gold certification and its steel structure features a previously unseen triangular grid pattern, which made construction a challenge.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

11. Willis Building, London

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51 Lime Street, London
Greater London EC3M 7NP, UK

Completed: 2008
Floors: 26
Height: 410 ft
Trivia: Its design is intended to resemble the shell of a crustacean and offers 475,000 sq ft of office space in London's financial district.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

12. Savings Bank Tower, Madrid

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Paseo de la Castellana
Madrid, Spain

Completed: 2008
Floors: 45
Height: 820 ft
Trivia: Known as Torre Caja Madrid, this is the tallest building in Spain and features dual concrete cores that support the building's full weight.

[Image courtesy Luis Garcia, Wikimedia Commons]

13. The Bow, Calgary

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500 Centre Street South, Calgary
AB T2G 0E3, Canada

Completed: 2012
Floors: 58
Height: 774 ft
Trivia: Features three sky gardens and was named for both its crescent shape and its proximity to the nearby Bow River.

[Image courtesy Florian Fuchs, Wikimedia Commons]

14. 2 WTC, New York City

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200 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007

Status: Approved, on hold
Floors: 79
Height: 1,348 ft
Trivia: The four diamonds are cleverly designed to shine light down to the 9/11 memorial below, but the project currently lacks an anchor tenant.

[Image courtesy wtc.com]

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1. HSBC Building, Hong Kong

1 Queen's Road Central, Central, Hong Kong

Completed: 1985
Floors: 44
Height: 587 ft
Trivia: Gigantic mirrors inside the atrium conserve energy by channeling natural sunlight throughout the building, despite the smog.

[Image courtesy skyscrapercity.com]

1 Queen's Road Central
Central, Hong Kong

2. Commerzbank Tower, Frankfurt

Kaiserstraße 1, 60311 Frankfurt, Germany

Completed: 1997
Floors: 56
Height: 985 ft
Trivia: Germany's first steel-framed skyscraper and considered the world's first eco-friendly highrise.

[Image courtesy Roland Meinecke, Wikimedia Commons]

Kaiserstraße 1
60311 Frankfurt, Germany

3. Al Faisaliyah Center, Saudi Arabia

King Fahd Road, Riyadh Saudi Arabia

Completed: 2000
Floors: 44
Height: 876 ft
Trivia: The building's four corners meet to house a giant golden ball near the apex, which features a revolving restaurant inside.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

4. City Hall, London

A200, London Borough of Southwark, London SE1, UK

Completed: 2002
Floors: 10
Height: 148 ft
Trivia: Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone described this building as a "glass testicle." Its shape actually makes it rather energy inefficient.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

A200, London Borough of Southwark
London SE1, UK

5. HSBC Tower, London

8 Canada Square, London, Greater London E14, UK

Completed: 2002
Floors: 45
Height: 656 ft
Trivia: One of Foster's more modest designs, this is the fourth-tallest building in the United Kingdom and features 1.1 million sq ft of office space.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

8 Canada Square, London
Greater London E14, UK

6. Swiss Re Headquarters, London

30 Saint Mary Axe, London, Greater London EC3A 8AF, UK

Completed: 2003
Floors: 41
Height: 591 ft
Trivia: Also known as "The Gherkin," this is one of the finest examples of modern architecture, which recently sold for just over $1 billion in 2007.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

30 Saint Mary Axe, London
Greater London EC3A 8AF, UK

7. Moor House, London

120 London Wall, London, Greater London EC2Y 5ET, UK

Completed: 2004
Floors: 19
Height: 276 ft
Trivia: Just 19 stories above ground, its foundation burrows another 19 stories below street level to accommodate future London Tube stations.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

120 London Wall, London
Greater London EC2Y 5ET, UK

8. Millau Viaduct, France

D992, 12100 Creissels, France

Completed: 2004
Length: 8,070 ft
Height: 1,125 ft
Trivia: A rare infrastructure project by Foster, this four-lane bridge is widely considered one of the greatest engineering feats in modern history.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

D992
12100 Creissels, France

9. Deutsche Bank Place, Sydney

126 Phillip Street, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Completed: 2005
Floors: 39
Height: 784 ft
Trivia: Foster's only building in the Southern Hemisphere. It was originally planned to be much taller, hence the oversized twin spires.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

126 Phillip Street
Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

10. Hearst Tower, New York City

300 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019

Completed: 2006
Floors: 46
Height: 597 ft
Trivia: Earned a LEED Gold certification and its steel structure features a previously unseen triangular grid pattern, which made construction a challenge.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

300 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

11. Willis Building, London

51 Lime Street, London, Greater London EC3M 7NP, UK

Completed: 2008
Floors: 26
Height: 410 ft
Trivia: Its design is intended to resemble the shell of a crustacean and offers 475,000 sq ft of office space in London's financial district.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

51 Lime Street, London
Greater London EC3M 7NP, UK

12. Savings Bank Tower, Madrid

Paseo de la Castellana, Madrid, Spain

Completed: 2008
Floors: 45
Height: 820 ft
Trivia: Known as Torre Caja Madrid, this is the tallest building in Spain and features dual concrete cores that support the building's full weight.

[Image courtesy Luis Garcia, Wikimedia Commons]

Paseo de la Castellana
Madrid, Spain

13. The Bow, Calgary

500 Centre Street South, Calgary, AB T2G 0E3, Canada

Completed: 2012
Floors: 58
Height: 774 ft
Trivia: Features three sky gardens and was named for both its crescent shape and its proximity to the nearby Bow River.

[Image courtesy Florian Fuchs, Wikimedia Commons]

500 Centre Street South, Calgary
AB T2G 0E3, Canada

14. 2 WTC, New York City

200 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10007

Status: Approved, on hold
Floors: 79
Height: 1,348 ft
Trivia: The four diamonds are cleverly designed to shine light down to the 9/11 memorial below, but the project currently lacks an anchor tenant.

[Image courtesy wtc.com]

200 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007