How To Dress A Building

Image: Erdy-McHenry Architecture

The site of the Bulletin newspaper’s seven story printing annex, demolished in 1993, will become a 530 car garage, designed by Erdy-McHenry Architecture. Some 1,000 off-street spaces were lost in the Convention Center expansion. “The garage will slip into the background,” says Steve Cupps of Realen Properties, the developer. What’s important, he says, is that the building will have 16,000 square feet of retail. “We’re looking for something that reaches out into the street.”

The garage will disappear in part because the skin of the building is made of 100% recyclable woven mesh textile. “Functionally,” says Scott Erdy, “the textile allows for constant air flow, provides UV protection and durability through tough weather conditions. Architecturally, the fabric screens the mass of the garage, giving it varying degrees of opacity depending on the time of day and ambient light.”

The $20 million garage will open in summer 2012. Realen, who developed Edgewater, at Race along the Schuylkill Banks (which also hides its parking), manages a city owned parking garage on 15th Street.

Archival photos of the site (see comments below):

Philadelphia City Archives

Philadelphia City Archives

About the author

Nathaniel Popkin is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and author of three books of non-fiction, including the forthcoming Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City (Temple Press) and a novel, Lion and Leopard (The Head and the Hand Press). He is the senior writer of the film documentary "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment."


  1. I’m fairly certain that the printing annex would have been at 13th and Arch (that is, the city-owned lot behind the CJJ, which is on the former Bulletin site). Historical photos on Philadelphia Speaks show that a parking garage, likely built in the 1950s or ’60s, stood for a time where the Realen garage is being built now.

    • Steve Cupps says: If you dig into the City’s archives, you will find that the Bulletin Building Annex was indeed located at 1324-42 Arch St. Its basement level was connected by a tunnel under Juniper and Cuthbert Streets to the Bulletin Building itself, which was located on the block where the Criminal Justice building now sits.

      To our understanding, the Bulletin Building Annex ceased to be a “Bulletin Building” in the mid-1900’s (not completely sure of the date), when the Bulletin moved out to 3001 Market. Sometime in the balance of its life up until its demise in 1993, along with what we think was some office use, the Annex was indeed used for parking (see the attached archive photos we were able to come up with from the City’s archives). Note, the 7-story Annex building only occupied the eastern 1/2 to 2/3 of the site; the balance of the site was occupied by a 2-story structure that, along with the lower levels of the Annex itself, appears to have been used for parking. Both structures were demolished in 1993.

      • Ah, that explains it. The archive images of the garage seemed to suggest it was purpose-built; however, a heavy reno would have likely been accomplished in the late ’50s (probably part and parcel with the repositioning of the former main office building after the Bulletin’s move out to 30th Street). It also explains the odd artifact, noticed earlier this summer, of some rather heavy-duty steel beams lying under the lot, discovered after they were dug up.

        That City lot behind the CJC at 13th and Arch is REALLY not the highest and best use for that particular site, too…

  2. I wonder if in the future a structure may be built on top of this garage, I am really not an advocate of above ground parking structures in urban areas. Maybe they can build a hotel above or apartements. That is what’s happening with the garage near Jefferson. I really don’t like parking garages.

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