Look Up! 30th Street Post Office will receive preservation award

The $252 million restoration of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Main Post Office will receive a Preservation Honor Award on Friday from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The building was designed in 1935 by the Philadelphia firm of Rankin & Kellogg, who specialized in Beaux Arts public structures around the country, including the Newark Public Library. For the five-story, 926,000-square-foot post office, the firm created an Art Deco behemoth of limestone block at 30th and Market Streets with what look like Mayan patterns in its pylons and roof line.

The post office never quite lived up to its potential, however. It use diminished through the Depression and World War II, and by the 1990s the building declined into obsolescence. It was left vacant and in disrepair in 2006.

But a group of developers, government agencies and architects embraced one of the largest tax credit projects in Pennsylvania history and re-opened the building in April 2011 as the new regional headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service. 

The National Trust will honor the firm of Bohlin, Cywinski, Jackson for reversing 70 years of deterioration and repurposing the building that now employs 5,000 IRS workers. Co-recipients at the ceremony in Spokane, Wash., this week will be Brandywine Realty Trust, Jacobs Engineering, Keating Development, PHY Engineers, and Powers & Co. 

The National Trust will also present its Outstanding Achievement in Public Policy Award to John Gallery, who will retire at the end of this year from his post as executive director of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.

For the full list of 2012 National Trust award winners, go to www.preservationnation.org/awards.

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Contact the writer at ajaffe@planphilly.com.


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