Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Architectural musings:

I love beautiful buildings and great architecture. I appreciate very little modern construction -- just what is going on with modern architecture. There are the ubiquitous MacMansions: "a new, out-of-scale structure that is usually quite large (3000 sq. ft. on average) that does not fit into any neighborhood. These structures are usually tall and massive, losing the side yards to this mass and losing the front yards to large three-car garages and driveways. These ‘Tara on a quarter acre’ overwhelm the homes next to them. "MacMansions" stick out like a sore thumb, both architecturally and culturally." I really hate these houses and doubt if serious architects have anything to do with them. They are the product of greed and the bloated consumer economy.

I love this site -- " is one of the world's most extensive built environment portals, all courtesy of the Royal Institute of British Architects."

Another site I often look at is: Architecture Internet Resources a database of valuable internet resources created and maintained by the UNLV Architecture Studies Library.

Like everything else I have very specific opinions about what I like and what I don't like. And I guess I am highly critical of current architectural trends. Philadelphia has more than its share of new and current architecture and very little has any appeal to me. One architect that has some appeal is Robert Venturi, his firm is Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. I won't begin to describe his work but some is very interesting.

So I was surprised to see this design done by Robert Venturi [personally I think it looks much too industrial and it is too tall]: The Dilworth House. I have no problem with the demolition of the current house and reuse of the property but this building won't contribute to the neighborhood.

From the press release about the building "The Dilworth House, which will grace the east side of [Washington] Square, is flanked by the Athenaeum and the Lippincott Condominiums (the former L.P. Lippincott Publishers Building). The new building will replace a Chester County-style farmhouse designed by colonial revivalist G. Edwin Brumbaugh for Mayor Richardson Dilworth and his wife in 1957. The Chester County replica replaced two important early 19th century townhouses. Ironically, Brumbaugh’s design was a suburban gesture in an urban renewal context. The Venturi design honors both the scale and magnificence of the Square. The building will complete the composition of the Square’s east side, aligning the building with the streetscape. The materials of the façade complement the buildings of the Square with brownstone and limestone, and replace Brumbaugh’s colonial-revival brick and marble. The Dilworth House is designed to preserve light in the Athenaeum’s great stair and rear garden."

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