Monday, August 18, 2008

The Failed Sci-Center Experiment

After a long search for someone to lead the city Planning Department, the Nutter Administration finally found its man right here in Philadelphia. Alan Greenberger, a principle architect at MGA Partners, will take charge of Philadelphia's planning agency in November, as I reported on Friday. Appointing an architect to head the storied department - no doubt still stalked by the ghost of uber-planner Edmund Bacon - isn't without precedent, though. Up until a few months ago, the place was run by Janice Woodcock, another well known Philadelphia architect. The hope is that having a director with a well-tuned design sense will encourage planners to vet new buildings for more than just the usual suspects of mass, density and loading, and pay attention to the finer details of how new buildings engage the street. That's clearly something that didn't get much attention at the Science Center's newest addition, 3711. You can read about what went wrong in Friday's Changing Skyline.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Inga,

I appreciate your honest critique of the Science Center's architecture and the implications for its business model. I'm not an architect and would not personally be able to comment on what designs would have been possible. I would like to hear your thoughts on what the Science Center could have done with regards to the design of the Market St corridor and 3711 in particular? Are there examples or biotech research parks elsewhere around the country that you think better serve their urban environments?


6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "urban mix of street-level cafes and restaurants, housing, hotels and green parks" that you claim the Science Center replaced in that section of the city was more like a collection of shoddy storefronts, dingy tap rooms, and strip joints. Most of the "commerce" taking place along that stretch was not of the 'taxable' variety. Overall, the Science Center campus may not be architectural eye candy, but the organization does good work and provides valuable services to companies in their formative stages.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is PennPraxis on this one -- Drexel has an Ugly Campus and the U of P is not too far behind yet PennPraxis try to tell the rest of the city should be zoned and built!!! Architects in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!

8:59 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home