Before 1987, Philadelphia had no significant skyscrapers to speak of due to an old “gentleman's agreement” to preserve the architecture of power of the civic monument of city hall. This situation in which the power of the city was presented as above all else was shattered by the forces of capitalism which, from the late 1980s, have determined the city skyline. The two tallest buildings in the city both bear the name of the telecommunications conglomerate Comcast. Humans have long used architecture to convey power, from soaring cathedrals to massive castles. From the kings of antiquity building palaces to the corporations of today building modern towers, architecture as a means of projecting power is nothing new. In this modern case-study of the physical architecture of power, I reveal in particular how the Comcast Building in Philadelphia conveys the power of capital over the power of the people, of democracy, via tearing the city’s central focus away from its City hall. My analysis of the architectural style of these buildings and how it contrasts to the previous city center helps illustrate why this commercialization of city space alongside a realignment of the city center to the benefit of corporations is ultimately an unfortunate event for the people of Philadelphia. The tyrannical and dictatorial nature of capital monopolizing space and using that space to affect power structures, as the Comcast building does, have been to the detriment of the populace and their lived environment.
Download Full Text (1.3 MB)
Killenbeck, Ryan, "Architecture of Power in Philadelphia, an Analysis of the Comcast City Campus" (2022). Research Days Posters 2022. 127.