Critic: Development Proposal to Close for Comfort to Philadelphia's Rodin Museum

Architecture Critic Inga Saffron decries the development proposal making progress through the approval process in Philadelphia—a large, glassy residential building that would encroach on the tiny serenity of the Rodin Museum.
January 16, 2015, 12pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"Won't someone in City Hall please come to the rescue of this Philadelphia treasure?" is the plea of a recent column by Inga Saffron in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The treasure she refers to is the Rodin Museum—a tiny temple on Philadelphia's parkway, where a development proposal for an adjacent parcel threatens to rob the site of its effect.

According to Saffron, "[the] proposal would dramatically alter the experience by cutting off the northern third of the block. The Rodin would no longer be a building in space. It would appear visually jammed on a smaller, less serene, less countrified site."

If approved, the project will require upzoning, which is where Saffron suggests the city can leverage the development proposal to protect the Rodin Museum. "Of course, that doesn't mean the city has to be the project's enabler. It requires a raft of permits before it can be built, including a substantial zoning upgrade, from a rowhouse category to CMX-4, which allows dense, multistory development." She adds, "[some] say the city can't control the aesthetics of its buildings, but a zoning bill is a big ask."

Saffron provides a lot more detail about the zoning and political context for the development proposal. She also presents an alternative building typology that, according to her estimation, would work better for the adjacent parcel.  

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Published on Friday, January 16, 2015 in Philadelphia Inquirer
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