ACP History: ACP Headquarters Buildings - Part 3 - Independence Mall Site

In 1984, Executive Vice-Presidents Dr. Robert H. Moser and other ACP leaders decided that the College would benefit a great deal from moving into a new headquarters. The building at 4200 Pine Street, which had served as the College's headquarters for nearly fifty years, was no longer suited as the center of operations for the nation's largest specialty medical society. Leadership began to explore the financial feasibility of building and sustaining a new headquarters. After a period of exploration, College leadership concluded that the College could afford to build a new headquarters and the search for a new site commenced.

Independence Mall Headquarters Building

A site selection committee was formed and several options were examined, including the possibility of relocating the College to Baltimore or Washington D.C. Among the many considerations contributing to the decision to remain in Philadelphia was the desire to retain the College's local staff of about 200, whose roots were in the Philadelphia region. Philadelphia had also served as the College's home for 60 years and there that a move to Washington, D.C. might be misconstrued as a departure from ACP's educational mission in favor of health policy activities.

In April 1986 the site selection committee, under the leadership of the President-elect, Dr. Ceylon S. Lewis, eventually recommended the purchase of a building site on the west side of Philadelphia's celebrated Independence Mall. The site area was between Sixth and Seventh Streets bordering on Race Street and was the location of the former Bicentennial Exhibit which was constructed in the early 1970s by the city for the nation's Bicentennial. The College began negotiations with the city's Philadelphia Redevelopment Corporation, and various officials in Mayor Wilson Goode's administration. The city was only able to sell the College the area on Sixth Street bordering on Race Street, since WHYY-TV had a long-term lease on a section of the Seventh Street side. Ultimately a compromise was reached as the College agreed to accept about three quarters of the initial location.

The Independence Mall site was ultimately approved and, although the College maintained a satellite office in Washington for purposes of congressional liaison, all other activities would remain under one roof in Philadelphia. Construction on the new building began in 1987 and was completed for occupancy by 1989. By the late 1990s, WHYY-TV had moved to a new location next door to the College. After further renovation on their new building gave them additional space, WHYY-TV no longer needed to retain their lease with the city for the location on Seventh Street. Consequently the College was able to acquire the remaining section from the City of Philadelphia in 2000. Construction begun within months of the purchase of the west wing, which was fully occupied as of April of 2002.

-Prepared November 2013 by Eric Greenberg, based on materials from the Archives of the American College of Physicians and Moser, Robert H. A Decade of Decision: A Physician Remembers the American College of Physicians, 1977-1986. Philadelphia, PA: American College of Physicians, 1991.