ThinkGreen LLC, was tasked with upgrading the two-acre pool area adjacent to the high-rise apartments.
Built in 1950, Presidential City echoes the "Towers in the Park" conception of the modern city. But after half a century, this residential complex had fallen into disrepair.
As part of the strategy to give a new lease on life to Presidential City, the landscape architecture company, ThinkGreen LLC, was tasked with upgrading the two-acre pool area adjacent to the high-rise apartments. Known as the Sora Pool Club, ThinkGreen LLC designed focused on creating a respite from the stresses of modern life, with spaces for both individual relaxation and dynamic social interaction. Integral to the design was also an emphasis on sustainability.
Presidential City was the first skyrise residential complex in Philadelphia. The project was built by legendary American builder John McShain, known as "The Man Who Built Washington" for his extensive construction work in the nation's capital, including the Jefferson Memorial, White House reconstruction, and the Pentagon.
McShain, himself a resident of Philadelphia's dense Center City, built Presidential City on the Schuylkill River at the front end of a phenomenon that would expand across U.S. cities in the coming decades.
Modernist architect Le Corbusier first conceived of iconic cruciform high-rises surrounded by open greenspace in his Plan Voisin, a concept for modernizing the antiquated streets of Paris. Though his ideas were initially rejected, the "Towers in the Park" became a model for new urban multifamily housing in the mid-to-late twentieth century.
Le Corbusier's vision sought to free urban streets of congested structures, smog-filled air, and inescapable gray hardscapes. By concentrating buildings into towers pulled back from the street, pedestrians could enjoy expansive grassy lawns and the shade of trees as they moved through the city.
Presidential City, like many developments that succeeded it, echoes Le Corbusier's original plan.
The towers rise high enough to offer views of both downtown Philadelphia and the preserved green spaces of Fairmount Park, while the open space at their base provide room for swimming pools, shade trees, car parks, and other desirable amenities not afforded to the residents of more crowded Philadelphia neighborhoods in the 1950s.