Philadelphia Savings Fund Society Building [now Loew's Philadelphia Hotel]

Howe and Lescaze
1930-32
designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976



This landmark building, often called a "masterpiece," is usually cited as the first skyscraper in the US built in the International style--a style defined as a simplified and functional architecture absent of decoration. While it may be undecorated in the traditional sense, it used varied and luxurious materials from the polished gray granite of the base (the three-story bank office area set back is in sand-colored limestone) to the gray brick spandrels. The interior is replete with luxury materials--stainless steel, varieties of marble, and rare woods--and with custom-designed furniture. The most luxurious rooms were on the roof where the Board of Directors meet. (It is worth noting that this building was constructed at the height of the Depression.) The PSFS building was the second skyscraper in the United States to be completely air conditioned.

 

The polished gray granite base with an elegant sculptural curve

Retail stores were originally at the base with the banking room located on the next level.
 

The base

The base forms a podium from which a 30-story tower rises. The windows form horizontal strips, emphasizing the horizontality of the office floors; at the same time, exposed vertical columns soar upward, emphasizing verticality.
 

Skyline identity: PSFS sign, with letters 27 feet high

Even though the building is now a Loew's hotel, the hotel chain chose to keep the signature rooftop PSFS sign in place. Although the sign was once illuminated 24 hours round the clock, it is lit from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. now, in order to conserve energy.




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© 2008 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. (I would appreciate being told if you find them useful.) They are not available for commercial purposes without my explicit permission.