Friday, July 29, 2011

A Final Entry

I must apologize in advance for the somewhat cryptic and esoteric references which appear in this final entry of Brick Canyon Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the time has come to abandon this small, modest platform and leave it to the omnipotent Gods of to dispose of during some distant, unforeseen date.

To the pageviewers, the image googlers, the site linkers, the loyal occasional peruser, friends, family and to those who once viewed this blog and never returned, I thank you for your mild interest. I intended to capture the zeitgeist of the Philadelphia urban landscape and reveal the unknown happenings between its past and future. Whether or not I failed in my intent may ultimately be irrelevant in an age when anything mammoth and blue is preferred to a cornice, a pediment or a Corinthian column. Perhaps the pictures were uninspiring, the rhetoric opaque, the stories hackneyed, the style unimaginative or perhaps I know better words instead of using four letter words when writing prose, but then again anything goes.

As I abandon this platform, I also depart the city to which I surveyed. A man cannot stand at Speaker's Corner without being in London and so I must move on. Finally, I leave you with an image of an urban planner's vision of a more beautiful Philadelphia and a quote which forewarns of a paradise lost.

Jacques Greber's original 1917 design of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Logan Square and what is now Love Park.

"Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future? Americans care about their past, but for short term gain they ignore it and tear down everything that matters. Maybe… this is the time to take a stand, to reverse the tide, so that we won't all end up in a uniform world of steel and glass boxes."
 -- Jacqueline Kennedy's response to the planned demolition of Grand Central Station in 1968

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Pulse At South Broad?

Real estate development in Philadelphia appears to be showing signs of life after a near fatal heart attack (aka the recession of 2007) nearly crippled and halted almost every major development in the city. After four years of setbacks and disappoints it now seems the city's main artery is poised for a rebound. 

The newest proposal on South Broad comes from Dranoff Properties who outbid P&A Associates (builders of the St. James and Murano) to develop the parcel of land located at the northeast corner of South and Broad, which is now occupied by the Garden of the Arts. Dranoff has given us such architecturally "unique" buildings as the Gumdrop Mountain-inspired Symphony House and the take-it-or-leave-it faux-art deco, 777 South Broad. While something reminiscent of Peanut Brittle House or Candy Cane Forest might have been more interesting for Broad Street's missing tooth, the design offers an acceptable and pleasant alternative to what seemed to be P&A's homage to the decaying Soviet Era buildings of suburban Budapest. The proposed project features an L-shaped six-story apartment building with an adjacent "pocket park", which may possibly serve the retail space located on the ground floor.

While critics continue to censure the shortcomings and follies of Dranoff's previous projects, this particular proposal seems to compliment the architectural aesthetic of the neighborhood and provide the necessary density/infill for an area that desperately needs it.  Regardless of the final design, this project has the potential to inject some much needed vitality into the southern extremities of Center City. 

                               Dranoff Properites' winning proposal for Broad and South

                                   P&A Associate's proposed building for the site