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Strawberry Square

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1975–1979, Mitchell/Giurgola Architects with Lawrie and Green; 1988 alterations. Walnut St. between S. 3rd and S. 4th sts.

Urban renewal had demolished much of old Harrisburg when the Harristown Development Corporation led by Doug Sutherland hired Philadelphia modernists Mitchell/Giurgola to design a building that would combine offices with retail on the site of the old Penn-Harris Hotel. Their scheme filled two entire squares, but instead of adhering to the old rectilinear grid of the streets, they animated the site by a diagonal through an interior shopping mall and food court, one of the first food courts in the region. After much discussion the architects chose to clad the upper levels of the facade in precast concrete panels surfaced in brick-red tiles that were intended to relate the new building to the old, brick town and to contrast with the light hues of the capitol complex ( DA20). The result was visually breathtaking, a strawberry-red building of modern scale whose name and image were linked by their shared color. Unfortunately, tiles began popping off the precast panels due to the freeze-thaw cycle of Pennsylvania. In the 1980s after much debate, the upper levels of the building were reclad in a limestone tan metal panel whose change of color reversed the allegiance to the old town and ties the complex instead to government.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas
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Citation

George E. Thomas, "Strawberry Square", [Harrisburg, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/PA-02-DA14.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 346-346.

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