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Saturday, 23 January 2010


No. 10 Loses Points

David S. Traub, a Junto Staff Writer, thinks Inga Saffron of The Inquirer was 'very asute' in her recent appraisal of No. 10 Rittenhouse Square, a new high-rise apartment building on the Square.

But, he adds:

I disagree that the Allison Building that fronts Rittenhouse Square forms a base for 10 Rittenhouse. Yes, a classical building has a top, a middle and a base. However, 10 Rittenhouse seems to arise out of nowhere    behind the Allison Building. I have always thought 10 Rittenhouse is a building without a site, a true site.
The Allison Building, which houses Barnes & Noble, might have served more effectively as a base, if the brick on 10 Rittenhouse matched that of the Allison Building, and if the fenestration of 10 Rittenhouse was of the type with "punched openings" with "double hung windows" like the Allison and 250 S.18th Street, which you mention. With that type of window treatment, the Allison and 10 Rittenhouse would have fused together better visually.

Robert A.M. Stern, whose New York-based firm designed the building, didn't seize upon that possible device/solution to the detriment of the ensemble of buildings. Even had he taken that approach, 10 Rittenhouse sits so far behind the Allison, it is doubtful that the Allison would have read as a convincing base for 10 Rittenhouse.

You also do not indicate which new tenants, if any, have been found for the 18th Street frontage. Are the store fronts finished? They were not earlier this week.

Additionally, you do not discuss whether you think the setback and step down along 18th Street, in lieu of the four townhouses, works in relating that frontage in scale, rhythm and character to the small scale buildings on the West side of 18th Street, north of Sansom Street stretching to Chestnut Street.

Thanks for good coverage of an important new building on the skyline.

(David S. Traub is a Philadelphia architect).