Home2 Suites opened to the public on Tuesday and Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron minced no words in her review of Center City’s first new-construction hotel in a decade. Here are some highlights:
“In the heated competition for the worst new architecture in Philadelphia, the sickly yellow, synthetic-covered mid-rise across from the Reading Terminal Market is now the one to beat.”
Traces of the past on a wooden chair at the Church of the Assumption, now scheduled for demolition. Photo: Liz Spikol
Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush stirred some controversy this month when his lawyer, Wally Zimilong, sent a letter to a woman, Haley Dervinis, opposed to his latest project: four single-family homes around 20th and Annin. The letter cautioned her not to libel or slander Feibush with disparaging comments in an upcoming zoning hearing, and was, to our eyes, a fairly ridiculous cease-and-desist scare tactic. It worked–she was scared. The letter got press as a threat, and Feibush came off as a bully trying to censor her.
At the hearing, Dervinis was certainly not alone in her opposition, and now, according to Jan Ransom of the Daily News, the Zoning Board has denied Feibush’s petition to go beyond the current zoning, which is for three homes rather than four.
Ridge Flats East Falls project rendering via Eyes on the Street/PlanPhilly
3737 Market Street rendering via Philadelphia Real Estate Blog.
In her most recent Changing Skyline column, Inga Saffron noted fully seven apartment towers that are being built or heightened between 20th and 38th streets on Market and Chestnut. (Part of this stretch was what porn theater Forum owner Richard Basciano talked about rehabbing for a new vision of Market Street West–before one of his buildings collapsed and killed people.)
The developers, says Saffron, “now see the typical high-rise resident as a twentysomething with a good-paying job at a hospital or tech start-up.” As a result, all the apartments are rentals, and says Saffron, they look it.
Photo: Bradley Maule
In Next City, Patrick Kerkstra makes Philly negative exceptionalists feel better by pointing out that while Philadelphia demolition regulations are, indeed, lax, it’s far from alone. His lede is priceless:
“In Philadelphia, a city with a rich history of municipal incompetence, there’s a natural impulse to assume the worst about city government when tragedy strikes…”
But that wouldn’t be fair, he says. In fact, Kerkstra analyzed 12 cities and found that Philadelphia’s inadequate supervision of demolition is typical of many large cities. So much so that this could, Kerkstra points out, happen anywhere.
No, the Inquirer’s architecture critic (left) is not leaving her hometown paper (scared you for a minute, didn’t we?). She’ll just be writing a monthly column for the New Republic’s website, but the moves may represent a larger trend, says Architect Newspaper’s Alan G. Brake.
Two other writers have been given new prominent positions as architecture critics, suggesting, Brake argues, that architecture criticism is not quite as moribund as commonly thought: More →
In her latest Changing Skyline column, Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron, whose taste is
fairly impeccable, calls the building coming to the 15th and Walnut “visually sublime,” “intellectually rich” and “sophisticated.” Best of all, she says the all-glass, three-story cube will be “one of the city’s finest new buildings.” Not exactly what comes to mind when you think “Cheesecake Factory.”