Bell Atlantic Tower
17th and Arch streets
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Date Constructed: 1991
Architect(s): The Kling-Lindquist Partnership
Participating AIA Philadelphia Members: Jacobs Global Buildings Design
The Bell Atlantic Tower, is a contrast to its predecessors in almost every way. The form and location of the building were influenced by the special design controls along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway which limit the height of buildings within 200 feet of the Parkway. To avoid the line of controls, the office tower was located on the southern edge of the site and designed with stepped-back corners. This left the northern portion of the site for a large landscaped park and fountain.
The 53-story building is easily distinguished by its rectangular shape, flat roof and warm red color. The facades are formed by projecting the stepped-back corners into a series of stepped slabs creating terraces at the top of the building and culminating in the flat roof. This breaks down the scale of the broad facades while giving the ends a narrow, graceful silhouette. The stepped-back corners and narrow floor plan create 16 corner offices per floor and allow an unusual amount of natural light to reach all interior spaces.
One of the most appealing qualities of the building is its color. Factory-built red granite panels with gray-tinted glass reflect the brick color of traditional Philadelphia architecture. Honed granite spandrels accent the façade and polished granite surrounds the entrance porticos. The top of the building is more glass than masonry and the source of a cascade of light at night.
The building's structural system consists of a central structural core connected to four major columns and four super-columns. Five story high vierendeel trusses give stability to the broad facades and two story vierendeel girders tie the super-columns back to the central core.
The choice of materials and simplicity of form give the building a refined elegance and lasting presence on the Philadelphia skyline.