Urban Fold

Bad Architecture, Good Urbanism in Philadelphia

The Mormon Church released renderings for development plans at 16th and Vine in Philadelphia. The plan's grab-bag of historic architecture styles succeeds in urbanism but roots the area in an unfortunate historicism, according to critic Inga Saffron.
Rich Anderson / Flickr

Inga Saffron’ provides an ambivalent review of the Mormon Church’s plans for the area at 16th and Vine streets. “The collection of architectural pastiches promises to be one of the weirder ensembles produced in 21st-century America outside of Las Vegas,” writes Saffron. But, “Weirder still, they could end up as one of the most civic-minded projects now being built in Philadelphia.”

The development includes “a 1920s-style apartment tower with a teensy redbrick meetinghouse that looks as if it was dragged across town from colonial-era Society Hill” as well as a “snow-white, double-spired, French classical Mormon temple.”

Saffron’s very good question: “How do you respond to a development where the architecture is awful, but the urbanism is terrific - especially in a city routinely shortchanged in both categories?”

Full Story: Changing Skyline: Mormon development combines civic-mindedness, awful architecture

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