Joseph G. Brin, Architect & Writer

Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Faith In Industry

In Space for Faith on March 23, 2012 at 4:55 am

An abandoned 70, 000 sq. ft. bottling plant in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood was just the right source for Rabbi Gedaliah Lowenstein, seventh generation Californian, to tap for his new synagogue. Of course, the price was also just right – rent free. An agreement with generous and supportive building owners, though, designated that the building could be sold out from under them at any time. That was five years ago. The “For Sale” sign is still out there catching the breeze on North American Street.

“Building for Sale, Pray Within”


Who Needs Industrial Design?

In Designer Profile on March 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm

“Early Industrial Designer”
Joseph G. Brin © 2012

“Fluid, intuitive, plug and play, out-of-the-box” – all characteristics of user friendly experience endlessly hyped by many companies these days. However, they remain elusive – an industrial designer is one person actually trained to deliver them to us in our daily encounter with objects and information.

A Conversation With Stephan Clambaneva, North East District, V.P. Elect, Industrial Design Society of America, IDSA

Snowy Farmstead in the Big City

In Environment & Infrastructure, Historic Preservation on March 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Only this afternoon I was tramping through snow covered hills and steep woods in Western Massachusetts…

Sounds of a sparkling creek deep in the valley rose up, ricocheted off tree bark and splintered into sunlight. We came upon an old, clapboard house in a clearing at the top of a hill. A beautiful, solitary house attended by a huge, bare tree that sent broken branches crackling high up into the cold, blue sky. A lichen-covered stone property wall stood like an ancient megalith…

Lifeboat For The Ages

In Historic Preservation, Space for Faith on March 9, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Walk the Walk: a writer steps outside and, without preconceptions, walks ’til a story materializes — serendipity and discovery in the City of Philadelphia. A new monthly Hidden City Daily column by Joseph G. Brin

In his inaugural monthly column “Walk the Walk,” Joseph Brin finds himself in a 100+ year old South Philly synagogue, where old and young alike pitch in, rebuilding the building, the congregation, and a new way of life…

I arrived on foot. Walking about twenty-five minutes took me to a neighborhood rowhome synagogue, or shul, founded by European immigrants in the early 1900s. Congregation Shivtei Yeshuron-Heysiner-Ezras Israel at Fourth and Emily Streets, deep in South Philadelphia, is the oldest and only remaining Orthodox synagogue in a neighborhood that once boasted a synagogue on virtually every corner…

Word On The Street

In Artist Profile on March 8, 2012 at 2:58 am

Walking down South St. in Philadelphia on a warm, winter night (yes, a warm, winter night), I saw an attractive young lady seated at a small table with a small, manual typewriter. A blank sheet of white paper was flopping in the old-fashioned carriage and ready to go. Her hand-lettered sign said, “Name a price. Pick a subject. Get a poem!!!”

“Type Writer”

Joseph G. Brin (c) 2012

New York Impressions

In Architecture, Urban Space on March 8, 2012 at 2:54 am

M1_Empire State day 5 in

Empire State Building

Photo: Joseph G. Brin © 2012

Have you ever seen someone do a bad impression? It’s kind of embarrassing. You either have the gift or you don’t. Philadelphia should just give it up, stop trying to be New York City or wishing it was New York City. We already have two fake Chrysler Buildings (Liberty Place I & II) in Philadelphia. Embarrassing enough.

New York City’s riches are manifold and manifest. It’s also so huge, more of a whirling planet than a city – both exhilarating and exhausting.

But someone asked me once “What is Philadelphia?” and I’ve been trying to figure it out ever since.

Compare and contrast might be the ticket to understanding…

Queen of Hearts: Heather Ujiie

In Artist Profile, Designer Profile on March 8, 2012 at 2:45 am

M1_Resurrection 72dpi

“Resurrection” ©2011 Heather Ujiie

Heather Ujiie is an impassioned, collaborative designer with silvery hair in two tight buns, one securely fastened on each side of her head. Her mode of dress is arresting, often strong combinations of red, black and white, a bit of the “Queen of Hearts.” Not an ounce of royal imperiousness about her, though. Instead, you find a committed artist and caring teacher who readily admits to wearing her heart on her sleeve…