This month the city of Philadelphia announced a unique partnership with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to develop a two-block “Mormon complex” just north of the downtown area.
In addition to the temple that is already under construction there and scheduled for completion in 2016, the complex will feature:
- a 32-story tower featuring 258 apartments
- 13 rental townhomes
- a 24,000-square foot meetinghouse for area Mormons
- a landscaped plaza area
- walkable shopping
- underground parking
The plan has earned a mixed review from the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s architecture critic, Inga Saffron. She generally hates the hodgepodge look of it:
It’s hard not to wince when you first look at the renderings of the Mormon Church’s expanding kingdom at 16th and Vine Streets, unveiled last week by Mayor Nutter. The architectural chameleons at Robert Stern’s office have paired a 1920s-style apartment tower with a teensy redbrick meetinghouse that looks as if it was dragged across town from colonial-era Society Hill.
As if that wasn’t enough, those retro buildings will join a snow-white, double-spired, French classical Mormon temple by Perkins+Will that is already rising along the cliff edge of the Vine Street Expressway. The collection of architectural pastiches promises to be one of the weirder ensembles produced in 21st-century America outside of Las Vegas.