Among preservationists, the demolition is a bitter pill. As the Hillman Medical Center falls, there are some benefits to historic buildings in Philadelphia, negotiated as “mitigation” by the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia
after appealing the hardship decisions by the Historical Commission and Zoning Board of Adjustment. Among the offsets:
- Buck Co. will contribute $125,000 to Preservation Pennsylvania to sponsor surveys and historic property nominations for modern architecture in Philadelphia.
- The Historical Commission will hire an independent real estate consultant to help evaluate financial hardship applications.
- Buck Co. will support preservation projects at two neighboring historic churches, Frank Furness’s First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia across the street and the Evangelical Lutheran Church next door. The new tower will darken stained glass windows in both churches.
Philadelphia’s 20th Century modern architecture is largely under-researched and under-appreciated, and demolitions like this one raise the profile of other modern buildings that are worthy of documentation and designation. In a 2009 PlanPhilly opinion piece
, Frank Matero, a professor in PennDesign’s Historic Preservation program, wrote:
Were the building to be re-evaluated today, it would clearly qualify for full protection as a significant example of mid century Modernist architectural design and social program that so well defined the movement.