Joseph G. Brin, Architect & Writer

Archive for 2013|Yearly archive page

Lost Lots of Philadephia

In Environment & Infrastucture, Urban Space on July 12, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Lost Lots of Philadelphia

No matter how many times you hear the oft-bandied statistics about the City of Philadelphia’s 30-40,000 empty lots, the numbers are still staggering. Though it is sobering to witness the immediate devastation of a natural disaster, urban wastelands are the arid result of a more insidious, decades-long process…


Collaboration Not As Easy As Pie

In Environment & Infrastucture, Urban Space on July 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Photo: Joseph G. Brin

The URBN Center is a radically reconstructed interior on the Drexel University campus in Philadelphia, in a building originally designed by architect Robert Venturi.

As you pass through the glazed entry into a forest of exposed building systems, the scent of linseed oil is in the air. Open tread, wood stairways float up through a thicket of steel beams, bolts, wires, pipes and shut-off valves…

Philly’s Doctor of Green

In Environment & Infrastucture, Urban Space on April 22, 2013 at 1:28 pm

M2 Triangles map


Max Zahniser doesn’t usually make house calls. As a leader in sustainability and integrative, systems thinking he lends his expertise to wide ranging building projects and organizations. He promotes green practices on a national level and has been at the inception of advanced thinking in that arena…

Preservation Madness: The addictive nature of home restoration

In Historic Preservation on April 11, 2013 at 3:32 pm

story by Joseph G. Brin | photo by Albert Yee

This article is part of a special (Grid Magazine, Feb. 2013) editorial partnership with Hidden City Daily on preservation in Philadelphia.

It could have been a scene from the film The Money Pit. Christine and Anthony Shippam, owners of an 1894 Georgian Revival in Mount Airy’s Pelham neighborhood, were lying in bed, rain dripping down on them. “Honey, did I tell you how much I hate this house?” asked Christine.

“Did I tell you how much I hate this house?” replied her husband Anthony.

“We don’t take vacations. We don’t do anything else,” says Christine Shippam, five years into the project restoring what was one of the dozens of suburban dream houses designed by architect Mantle Fielding. “It’s become an addiction,” she says…

Block Bustin’

In Architecture, Historic Preservation, Urban Space on April 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm

South 5th and Bainbridge | Photo: Nathaniel Popkin

It’s the old domino effect. First Charles Zarit Tailor Supplies, established in 1942, closes up. Then the corner family hardware store, in business since 1872. The particular character of a small city block–this one South Fifth Street between South and Bainbridge–quietly erodes and then vanishes…

Neptune Calling

In Environment & Infrastructure on February 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm
Tuesday, February 5, 2013 12:00 pm

“Wave Signal” | Photo:  Joseph G. Brin © 2012

Sweeping ocean vistas display their obvious beauty but waves speak an arcane language all their own. Frederic Raichlen, professor emeritus at Caltech and an expert on coastal engineering and wave mechanics, has a new book Waves (MIT Press). He is a kind of wave whisperer.

A colleague once claimed that MIT Press could take any subject and make it boring. They failed here since this little pocket book, the latest in their “Essential Knowledge” series, is fascinating…