Greg Heller, author of Ed Bacon: Planning, Politics and the Building of Modern Philadelphia, knows something about the planning and evolution of Philadelphia’s Parkway. Aside from Inga Saffron, there are few people I can think of more qualified to offer an opinion on Frank Gehry’s plans for the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), now on view there in “Making a Classic Modern: Frank Gehry’s Master Plan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.”
While other critics have basically said, “Thank god Gehry’s plans for the museum don’t seem very Gehry-ish” — in other words, he’s kept himself in check in our rather conservative, Quaker city — Heller finds himself disappointed by the absence of Gehry’s flamboyance:
The exhibit showcases the results of a design process that has been going on since 2006—seriously, that’s eight years of planning by one of the top architects of our time, famous for massive, ambitious, bizarrely shaped, twisted sculptures of metal that (like them or not) become a permanent and recognizable fixture in their cities’ urban landscapes. Even if I didn’t like the proposed renovation design, I figured at least it would be ambitious and interesting. It was neither.
Heller knew it wasn’t going to be Bilbao — after all, the design is primarily underground, as he notes — but he thought we might get something “iconic and visionary—perhaps our own version of I.M. Pei’s pyramid at the Louvre, but Gehryesque.” Instead, he says, Gehry has offered a pallid plan for an “amazingly boring” museum expansion.
An apartment building has been proposed for the narrow space behind the Rodin Museum, and you can bet the Inquirer’s Inga Saffron has feelings about it (and her usual well-reasoned, bigger-picture analysis).
At issue is not just the aesthetics of the grounds ringing the well-loved museum. There’s also the city’s “low line” rail park to consider. The “low line,” of course, is the underground equivalent to the city’s other dreamed-of rail park. Should the Cross Properties (owned by David Blumenfeld — not that Blumenfeld, but his brother) plan move forward as proposed, the nascent park idea would be kaput.
The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that the 293-unit apartment building to be part of the planned Rodin Square complex has received a $20 million loan to finance its groundbreaking. The complex, which was approved in the fall, will face the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and take up much of the block bounded by 21st, 22nd, Spring Garden, and Hamilton streets. In addition to the residences, it will include a 55,000-square-foot Whole Foods with underground parking, a “sky park” with an outdoor pool for residents, several commercial spaces, and a parking garage for residents.
Rita’s Italian Ices are now available at Sister Cities Park (18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway) and John F. Collins Park (1707 Chestnut Street). Cool off while enjoying the Sister Cities boat pond or while relaxing in the shade on Chestnut Street. Both stands are open daily from noon to 7 pm.
Rita’s Italian Ices [Official]
The Oval returns to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with Farm Fest. This Thursday, April 17th through Saturday, April 19, the Parkway will once again a gathering place for people looking for games, music, food and some Victory Brewing Company beers.
Thursday’s event takes place from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with food trucks and Victory Brewing Company’s brewpub on wheels showing up at 5 p.m. Farm Truck, Street Food Philly, Reuben on Rye, Little Baby’s Ice Cream and Calling Card Confections from the Greensgrow Commissary will all be on hand. TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb will be performing.
For reasons yet unknown, a 44-year-old woman jumped out of a taxicab on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway (around 18th street) around 8:30 p.m. yesterday. Police claim there was a dispute between driver and passenger. I’ve got some other theories.
For a city with so much green space, this is a bit of a surprise: Philadelphia Magazine has named Sister Cities Park, the new pastoral haven at 18th Street and the Parkway, as the Best of Philly this year. The reasons? Its very existence is pretty exciting, but the official writeup cites water geysers, a cafe, a boat pond and Inga Saffron’s description of it: “a small miracle.”
A video, this way…