Joseph G. Brin, Architect & Writer

Archive for the ‘Environment & Infrastructure’ Category

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…


Beautiful End of the World

In Environment & Infrastructure on August 10, 2012 at 1:02 am

M1_Safe Harbor_Brin_2012

Safe Harbor
Joseph G. Brin © 2012

You may have already had an end of the world experience – and just didn’t know it. I’m not talking about a disaster by any means. Instead, this is about a soaring, heightened sense in nature, attaining a state of grace that is rare, brief and unpredictable. What accounts for this phenomenon? Does design have the power to create something equivalent? If so, what happens when architects and designers attempt to intervene?

Portrait of a Neighborhood Park

In Environment & Infrastructure, Urban Space on June 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Cianfrani Park is a small, scruffy but much loved park in Philadelphia – small enough that you can sometimes take in a multi-stage theater of human activity.

The Cianfrani name has a connection to Henry “Buddy” Cianfrani, the late ex-state senator, who was convicted and served time on federal racketeering and mail-fraud charges. He had also scandalized the community by romancing a local newspaper reporter, a “source.” The park itself, though, is actually named in honor of his mother…

M1_Park plan dwg

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…

Roofmeadow Fields Forever

In Environment & Infrastructure on February 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Charlie Miller, P.E., has been fomenting a quiet, green roof revolution in this country for years. So quiet that you may not have heard of it, or him.

It’s a steep climb up narrow, carpeted stairs to the modest Roofmeadow office on historic, cobble-stoned Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia–a great metaphor for what Charlie Miller, P.E., internationally regarded green roof pioneer has faced, professionally, the last 15 years in this country…

Photo: Joseph G. Brin © 2012

Timeless Landshaper: Richard A. Glaser

In Designer Profile, Environment & Infrastructure on February 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Richard A. Glaser is an urban planner and landscape architect. He’s worked on everything from a landscaped backyard swimming pool to entire cities in the Middle East. He worked for large Philadelphia offices like Lou Kahn’s and for Marcel Breuer (planning Sadat City in Egypt). He worked in partnerships and as a sole practitioner.

Pier To Pier Networking

In Environment & Infrastructure on February 21, 2012 at 4:21 pm


Photo: DRWC (Field Operations)

From the air, a series of flat, gray, industrial looking waterfront piers jut out into the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “MetroZepp,” our aerial historic tour blimp, hovers as it suddenly detects the distinct emergence of Design. We crowd to a small window as our captain promises to give us a closer look.

Applied Intelligence

In Environment & Infrastructure on February 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Pier 53 on the Delaware River, in Philadelphia, was the point of entry for immigrants, primarily from Eastern and Southern Europe, from the 1870’s through the early 1900’s. Demolished in 1915, it took nearly 100 years before some smart people discovered that the remaining pile of rocks, trash and rotting lumber held promise as a foothold for the city’s return to ecological health and a reborn, sustainable waterfront.