Joseph G. Brin, Architect & Writer

Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

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…


Moonrise Over Architecture

In Architecture on October 29, 2012 at 3:07 am

Design me a structure that is open to the sky, partially enclosed, all natural materials, fragile, permeable, no heat, no electricity, no plumbing…and only lasting 7 days. What?

Simple structures, complex and rich with meaning can still be irresistible to designers…

M1_Willow Sukkah_


In Architecture on August 13, 2012 at 8:28 pm


Talk about biophilia, biomimicry or biodiversity and another bio comes to mind –  that of late architect Richard Neutra. He himself coined the term biorealism as “the inherent and inseparable relationship between man and nature.”

Paris on the Parkway

In Architecture, Exhibit Design on July 12, 2012 at 5:03 am

There’s something about quality that will not be denied. As the new Barnes Art Museum recently opened to great fanfare on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, you couldn’t help noticing the petite Rodin Museum next door, waking up, rubbing the sand from its eyes.

A close cousin of the Musee Rodin in Paris, this crown jewel of the Parkway had seen better days. The fountain and pool were never working, plantings and grounds were shabby, Rodin’s monumental bronze entry piece,“The Gates of Hell” with its writhing figures, was blackened and dull. Still, unmistakably, there stood a beautifully proportioned, limestone treasure.     

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The Rodin Museum c. 1929-1930
Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art

Something old, something new

In Architecture on May 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm

New York City’s Le Bernadin was the tres chic restaurant venue for a recent press luncheon held to announce the opening of the new Barnes Art Museum in Philadelphia. A narrow stairway off West 51st Street led up to a not very large room. Circular tables ringed with top-flight design journalists and editors were packed in like proverbial sardines. “I’d rather be working on a building,” said Tod Williams, partner in Williams/Tsien Architects, smiling under his breath (try it sometime) as he approached his table dressed in the requisite black…

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“Reflecting Path”
Photograph: Joseph G. Brin © 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…