Morning Headlines: Carl Dranoff’s One Riverside Gets Urban-Friendly Redesign

carl dranoff one riverside

Rendering of the project via Philly.com

“A true urban tower,” that’s what Pulitzer-winning architecture critic Inga Saffron has called Carl Dranoff’s redesigned One Riverside project at 25th and Locust. The building, proposed last summer, had originally sparked complaints from locals and Saffron herself.

So what exactly are the differences between the old and new design?

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Inga’s Zingers: Nine Great Quips from Pulitzer Winner Inga Saffron

Yesterday, the 2014 Pulitzer Prizes were announced, and Inga Saffron of the Inquirer won the Pulitzer for criticism!

Saffron’s one of my favorite local writers, and I’m thrilled to see her win the prize after being a finalist several times before. (Unlike many other journalism awards, the Pulitzers are legit because they come with a cash prize — $10,000!) It’s extra cool because, well, how many American newspapers have an architecture critic on staff any more? Or ever?

As a big enthusiast of city living, I’m thrilled the Inquirer has such a passionate advocate for urbanism on its staff. Critics are important. The best critics have the opportunity to praise worthy subjects and call out crap. There’s just so much crap out there, in every field, and so much of it goes un-criticized — whether it’s because the people behind it are nice, or because they’re powerful, or whatever. Not all that crap deserves to be called out, but a lot of it does. And Inga Saffron is one of the best at it. I’d put her ability to call out crap at the level of another great critic and Pulitzer winner, Roger Ebert. She is that good.

To commemorate one of my favorite critics receiving such a prestigious award, I went through Saffron’s archives and found some of my favorite lines of hers.

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Saffron Wins Pulitzer for Architecture Criticism

pulitzer_front_logo
Saffron has been a finalist before, but this is her first Pulitzer win for architecture criticism. In fact, we hope the win celebrates the very idea of architecture criticism, which isn’t, you’d admit, quite as popular as other kinds. (Is there a Rotten Tomatoes of buildings? There should be.)

Between 1970 and 2014, only four winners of a Criticism Pulitzer have been architecture writers: the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin, the Boston Globe’s Robert Campbell, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Allan Temko, and the New York Times’ Paul Goldberger.

Make that five!

Inga Saffron Wins a Pulitzer Prize

Inga Saffron Wins a Pulitzer Prize

She’d been a finalist several times, now the award is hers: Inky architecture critic Inga Saffron has been awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in criticism. The citation:

Awarded to Inga Saffron of The Philadelphia Inquirer for her criticism of architecture that blends expertise, civic passion and sheer readability into arguments that consistently stimulate and surprise.

We at Philly Mag sometimes like to have fun with Saffron’s particular way of viewing the world — but Philadelphia would be poorer without her commentary. For some of us new to town, reading Saffron’s critiques have offered insight into what makes Philly Philly, in terms of culture and history, that simple thumbs-up thumbs-down reviews of buildings couldn’t do on their own. Congratulations to her.

(Oh, and Saffron is featured on Philly Mag’s list of the city’s 75 most powerful people. Check it out on newsstands now!)

Morning Headlines: Artist-Designed Bike Rack Winners Will Be Available This Summer

Photo credit: Bicycle Coalition of Great Philadelphia.

Some of the new designs.
Photo credit: Bicycle Coalition of Great Philadelphia.

Cyclists will soon get to test the functionality of last year’s bike rack design contest winners, which are currently on display at City Hall until June 17th. They will be made available for public beta testing sometime this summer.

According to the Inquirer’s Inga Saffron, the prototypes range from cute to elegant, with all adhering to the practicality requirement from the competition. But has the true bike rack issue been addressed? Maybe not. Read more »

Inga Saffron vs. Mural Arts: The T-Shirt Edition

mural arts t-shirt

A t-shirt made by Mural Arts in the wake of a column by Inga Saffron. Modeled by Emily Goulet.

This year marks the Mural Arts Program (MAP)’s 30th anniversary, and it should surprise no one that the Inquirer‘s Inga Saffron — a longtime critic of the city arts agency — would have something to say about it.

In a recent Changing Skyline column, the architecture critic did indeed take the opportunity to say a few words about MAP, some of them almost kind:

During those three decades, the city agency has left its mark on some 3,600 walls, mostly in the bleaker corners of the city where a little paint isn’t the worst thing that can happen.

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Morning Headlines: Saffron Says New Templetown Housing Achieves the Impossible

paseo verde

Image of Paseo Verde apartment house via Paseo Verde website.

In her latest column, Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron writes about the new North Philadelphia development Paseo Verde, calling it “a trifecta of socially responsible development.” And it achieves what seems almost impossible: it “makes peace with gentrification.” If development around Ninth and Berks were to follow “the usual Philadelphia script,” says Saffron, there would be two possibilities:

Either the neighborhood would surrender to developers and allow a construction free-for-all. Or, it would dig in, using its political power to hold onto the acres of vacant land in the hope that someone, some day, might build subsidized housing.

Instead residents found a third, and better, way…

The four-story apartment house makes peace with gentrification by accepting high-end, modern apartments as a fact of life. But it also ensures that longtime residents will have a good place to live if the area takes off and prices spike.

To achieve that tricky balance, nearly half of Paseo Verde’s 129 units are set aside for low-income residents at reduced rents. The other 67 go for market rates. After a quiet opening in the fall, Paseo Verde is now home to a mix of Temple University students, professionals, and low-wage workers.

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Morning Headlines: Saffron Assesses Mormon Tower and Meetinghouse Project

Rendering of the proposed developments from Logan Square. Photo credit: Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

Rendering of the proposed developments from Logan Square.
Photo credit: Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

“How do you respond to a development where the architecture is awful, but the urbanism is terrific?” asks architecture critic Inga Saffron. The development with this figurative double-edged design sword is the Church of Latter Day Saints’ proposed meetinghouse and 32-story tower planned for 16th and Vine.

The two buildings — designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects — have two vastly dissimilar styles.

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Saffron Shocker: A Carl Dranoff Building She Loves

SLS international rendering

Part of a Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates rendering of Dranoff’s new project. Full rendering below.

We’re not sure whether this was one of Carl Dranoff’s goals for his new South Broad Street exclamation point, the SLS International Hotel and Residences, but we’re sure he couldn’t be more pleased if he had planned this from the outset: for the first time since he turned his attention to the Avenue of the Arts, Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron has tossed a bouquet to a Dranoff building’s architecture.

Saffron has always given Dranoff props for his business savvy and his commitment to creating lively urban environments, and her review of the SLS tower in today’s Inquirer is no exception. As she wrote, Dranoff “seems to possess a sixth sense about where the real estate market will go next.” His Avenue of the Arts debut, Symphony House, was an example of that sixth sense at work, and as Saffron notes again in her review today, the project got the urbanism right, packing enticing commercial spaces at the street level and finding top-flight tenants to fill them.

But her disdain for the “pink-hued, milk-bottle-shaped” apartment tower – a building that wants badly to be its Modernist self but instead comes off as a Drake Tower wannabe – became well-known.

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