Solitary Rowhouses

In one of my electives this semester, John Kromer’s The Politics of Housing and Urban Development, we have been discussing past community development policies, like the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, that have left those homeowners in areas of disinvestment who were unwilling to be bought-out by the city or private developers surrounded by vacant lots. This timely article in The Atlantic Cities features a photographer who has focused on such properties in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Camden. How beautiful and tragic.

Plight of Churches

A different class last semester focused on the adaptive reuse of vacant or highly deteriorated spaces. This article in Hidden City Philadelphia has great coverage about the work of my fellow classmates on a church at 40th and Sansom St.

This term, a seminar and studio will focus on the 19th Street Baptist Church in South Philadelphia. Additionally, as part of this year’s IDEA Days festival, there will be a one-day workshop and a day of public service seeking the potential of these once sacred places. I will be sure to include an update about these projects at the end of September!

A rendering of the potential iChurch at 40th and Sansom.

Welcome Back!

Classes officially started, and the halls of Meyerson are once again full! But before writing about exciting things to come, I thought I’d take a look back at the final product for the Site Analysis class I mentioned previously. My team recorded the Crescent Iron Works and completed numerous drawings of both the building and, more abstractly, the factory process. Here are some photos I took of the site:

Isacoff_Interior

Crescent_6

 

Crescent_9

 

Each year the course focuses on projects of different scales and periods of significance. I look forward to seeing the selections next spring!

LPC and Nature

Hearings at NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will often regard regulations about replacing windows or choosing brick colors. However, last night the LPC unanimously approved a COOKFOX project about biophila, in which the objective of the design is to connect people with nature. Read more here about how the proposal for this mixed-use building in SOHO drew inspiration from the past but will respond to the needs of the future.

Proposal for 300 Lafayette

Penn Station

The demolition of Penn Station’s original structure in 1963 is one of the most contested acts in preservation history. Check out what the Regional Plan Association and the Municipal Art Society have planned to fight the renewal of the current building’s special land-use permit. As Michael Kimmelman wrote: “Next to never does a city have an opportunity to rectify a mistake as colossal as Penn Station. Ambitious political leaders should seize this moment.”

The waiting room at Penn Station in 1911.

“Phony Urbanism”

I love that Philadelphia is so bike- and pedestrian-friendly. Like many historic areas, its walkability adds to its value. Should not, then, preservationists be advocating for the increased accessibility of Dumbo and Vinegar Hill in Brooklyn? Andrew Dolkart, director of Columbia’s HP program, said in a NY Times article that replacing the weathered cobble stones with machine-cut ones is “phony urbanism.” But, as Laura Roumanos, an executive producer at a gallery in Dumbo, noted, the cobblestones have not been there forever, and people complained when they replaced gravel and stone. I think it is important to retain the character of the area and not simply introduce pavement, but isn’t advocating to maintain the cobblestones as they are the preservation of phony-urbanism itself?