The following are photos of a model of Park Towne Place. Built in 1958, Park Towne Place was, like Penn Center which preceded it by a few years, an icon of an Edmund Bacon-inspired postwar city on the move. Along with the Youth Study Center and the Ben Franklin Motor Lodge, Park Towne Place stands as a high water mark of the modernist planning insurgence, its presence a sign that postwar planners did not hold sacrosanct the mature Beaux-Arts school’s reigning dominance on the Parkway. And yet unlike the YSC and the Ben Franklin Motor Lodge, the shift in planning paradigms has not rocked Park Towne Place to its core. The YSC stands as testament to modernism’s unshakable belief in the therapeutic potential of “good” design and the motor lodge a reminder of the postwar deference to the automobile–two concepts that have not weathered time, architectural preference, and the realities of urban life very well.
Perhaps because its function is simple: to offer residential amenities in a park-like setting has Park Towne evaded the scorn of modernism’s critics. I don’t know the occupancy of the 17 story units, but people seem to still enjoy living in Philip Johnsonian glass houses. [A new banner proclaims that some units are being rehabilitated–probably to compete with “fresher” condos which really aren’t that much more engaging that PTP] Then again the complex’s marginality, its stark shunted-off irrelevance also may play a role in its dodging bullets. In some ways the real Park Towne Place still remains cocooned under a canopy of plexiglass: as a “model” of 1950s city living not really a part of the Parkway or city, but a part of some architectural museum’s storage basement.
Follow the jump for more PTP photos.
[PARK TOWNE PLACE FROM 24TH STREET]
[LOOKING NE FROM VINE STREET EXPY]
[THE EXCITEMENT OF URBAN LIVING]
[SOUTH BEACH, BABY.]
[THE NEVER-BUILT PTP RESTAURANT]
[NO MODERNIST BUILDING IS COMPLETE WITHOUT ITS SUBMERGED GARAGE]