Monday, March 10, 2008

Philly Buildings Make News

Philly's new buildings don't get much coverage these days in the national architectural press. We can only guess at the reasons. Is it because they so rarely break new architectural ground? Or is it because of Philadelphia 's preference for soft-spoken designs in an age of shouters? Certainly there have been several recent projects that deserved more exposure than they received: Penn's Skirkanich Hall by Tod Williams/Billie Tsien Architects, Bryn Mawr's Anthropology building by MGA Partners, Hancock Square by Erdy/McHenry Architects, and the Perelman addition to the Philadelphia Museum of Art by Gluckman Mayner Architects.

So, given the drought of media acknow-ledgement, last week's coverage amounted to a deluge In his critique of the Bilbao effect in Architectural Record, Martin Filler offers some understated praise for the understated Perelman addition, which fared badly in a December review in the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, this Sunday, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre by Kieran Timberlake received some major national exposure in New York Times' Arts and Leisure Section. Kieran Timberlake is one Philadelphia firm that hasn't suffered from a lack of publicity. Not only did their Loblolly House get featured in half a dozen glossy magazines (and Changing Skyline, natch), but they had heavy exposure for the prototype design they did for Brad Pitt's Make it Right New Orleans project and the upcoming survey show of Fab pre-fab houses at MoMA. Let's hope this recent attention to Philadelphia firms is evidence that sophistication is returning to the city's building design.


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