If you’ve visited Jeweler’s Row in the last year, you’ve probably noticed a sizable construction project taking place on the southwest corner of 8th & Walnut. For decades, a seven-story parking lot made its home on this corner, a disappointing remnant of a plan that never came to fruition. According to an article in the Philadelphia Business Journal, two high-rise residential buildings were originally planned for the air above this parking lot, built in 1984. Instead, part of the garage was converted into medical offices, and then Wills Eye Hospital was built on the western end of the parking lot.

In 2009

About a year ago, work began on a twelve-story addition above the parking lot, dubbed Penn Medicine Washington Square. This project, which will provide appropriate height and density at a downtown corner, will eventually house 153K sqft of medical offices, hospital departments, and ambulatory services for Pennsylvania Hospital. Consolidating all of these functions in one location will allow Pennsylvania Hospital to “reach its ultimate goal of an all private room acute care hospital at its main campus.”

With the project’s completion expected sometime in 2013, progress has been significant. Check it out:

Same view as above

Looking up. Saint James is on the left.

The eastern side of the addition

A low-res rendering of the building designed by Ballinger.

It’s amazing to think that just ten years ago, the seven-story parking lot was the tallest structure on this corner. Now, with the forty-five story Saint James on the southeast corner and the soon-to-be-nineteen story Penn Medicine building across the street, the height and density will be decidedly more Center City than it once was. And considering the location, this seems to be entirely appropriate.

Or did people like it better the way it was before?