Construction's Social Impact on Philadelphia

Super User

Construction’s Social Impact on Philadelphia What once was a city full of 18th century low rising brick row homes is making a forefront in the construction industry and in architecture. For years there was an informal gentleman’s agreement in Philadelphia that stated that no building was to be constructed higher than 548 feet: the height of the William Penn Statue on top of City Hall. The bronze statue is 37 feet high, representing Philadelphia’s pride by standing taller than any other statue on top of a building.


In 1987 the agreement ended when One Liberty Place was built taller than the statue. There was said to be a curse on Philadelphia’s sports teams after William Penn was surpassed. Their luck was non-existent. Although it is still the tallest masonry building in the world, it is only the sixteenth tallest building in Pennsylvania. Georgian, Federal style, Greek revival, and Victorian architecture all played their role in the city’s character throughout the years, but most recently it has been geared towards the steel, glass, and concrete skyscrapers.

In 2007 when the Comcast Center was finished being constructed, it was not only leading architecture in the city, but also became the new tallest building at 975 feet. On the final day of construction when the last beam was raised, the ironworkers attached a miniature statue of William Penn to the beam making him once again the highest point of the city. That next fall, the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series and thus the “bad luck streak” was over. Its social ties gave the people of Philadelphia reason to be paying attention to what was going on in the world of construction in their city.

In Fall 2017 the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center will be completed, becoming an innovative, vertical campus for the company, as well as a world-class media center, hotel, and new transportation hub for the city. It will make the people of Philadelphia give notice to it simply because of how advanced it will be and how many jobs it will bring to the city. Compared to other cities Philadelphia isn’t as recognized for having designs from the big name architects of today. Bringing in international architect Norman Foster for the job is likely to encourage future construction to compete with the Innovation and Technology Center for prime recognition in the city. Not only is the building giving Philadelphia a better presence in the construction field, but it will be giving the miniature statue of William Penn a new home.