Monday, October 30, 2006

Modern Love asks: where can a 50-year-old woman fall in love with a 25-year-old, bad-boy surfer… without ever having sex?

Why, Philadelphia, of course.
He had loomed about on the edge of my life since I moved from New York to Philadelphia three years earlier. I saw him daily at the neighborhood bakery, where he loaded boxes of muffins for morning deliveries, often returning for his surfboard around noon before heading off to the Jersey Shore. He was a risk taker, always sporting a bruise or a bandage, and I was there the day after his bad skateboarding accident, reaching out to touch his purple eyelids and broken nose.
It thrilled me. I was out of my pajamas and into a short skirt before you could say “cradle robber” (as I told my friends). But it was more than that; we were changing.

We sat outside at Brasserie Perrier — a fancy place I had never been but where he seemed quite comfortable. It was a warm night. A pack of women in their 20s twittered by, and I watched him watch them as they passed. I waited. He swiveled his head back toward me and said, “Don’t pocketless jeans just get on your nerves?”
Like, totally.

Is Rittenhouse Row starting to remind anyone else of the Upper East Side [NY Times]

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Penn Praxis jumps head first into the steaming pile that is the Delaware River Waterfront Plan

It has been barely three weeks since Mayor Street’s executive order authorized Penn Praxis to develop a new master plan for the Delaware River Waterfront. So it’s definitely refreshing to see that Penn Praxis is undettered by failed previous plans for the river and has hit the ground running.

In the Daily News yesterday, Harris Steinberg, Penn Praxis Executive Director, laid out the preliminary context of their mission and how exactly they plan to create a "civic vision for the Central Delaware that balances the public good, access to the waterfront, open space and quality urban development."
Waterfronts are the hot ticket in progressive cities these days. Everywhere you go in planning and economic development circles, the air is filled with talk about waterfronts. Why? Because in today's knowledge economy, yesterday's industrial sites are rapidly becoming today's centers of civic pride.

People want to be able to live, work and play in an area without traveling great distances at great expense. Waterfronts are recreation centers, places of natural beauty that offer an escape from the hubbub of city life. We can look no farther than the glories of the upper Schuylkill to know that this is true.

And yet we're allowing the Delaware to become clogged with graceless, towering condominiums perched on distended parking podiums and gated communities that cut off public access to the water's edge. We've allowed soulless, Anywhere, USA, big-box stores and strip malls to bring unprecedented traffic congestion.

And just around the bend, looms one, possibly two, giant slot-machine barns that could blow all of this out of the water.
Ok now. Good to see these guys won’t be pulling any punches. As Inga Saffron points out, the fact that Penn Praxis is not a city agency is actually a good thing, considering the circumstances.
Penn Praxis' advantage is credibility; it doesn't answer to any political bosses. Unlike a development corporation, which is designed to drum up new development, Penn Praxis will have the luxury of focusing first on quality-of-life issues, things like parks, sidewalks and fishing piers.
And as we’ve come to expect from Mr. Steinberg, his piece is poignant and right on. And amazingly — despite all of the incredible opportunities missed — it makes us feel like there’s still hope for a reclaimed Delaware waterfront.
It's time to hold a civic conversation and create a vision for the central Delaware, a civic vision for the people's waterfront that gathers the hopes and dreams and aspirations of Philadelphians who live both near the river and from across the city. A civic vision that establishes a road map for development that puts Philadelphians first and foremost as it creates an elegant, exciting, vibrant and humane 21st century urban design that makes the world take notice.

That's what we're embarking on - and we need your help.
This is our moment, Philadelphia.

Let's get to the water's edge.
Word. Seriously. We're there.

If the waterfront were a cat, this would definitely be life #9 [Daily News]
Penn Praxis is in a race against time [Inky]
Three waterfront walks and talks with design and planning experts [Plan Philly]
It only took New York three decades [Inky]

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mr. Fumo, meet Mr. Pot… and his good friend Mr. Kettle

Vince Fumo likes to have his cake and eat it tooLate last week, news came that Vinnie Fumo dropped his opposition to local zoning control of the casinos to be built in Philadelphia. [emphasis added]
In his statement confirming his change of mind Fumo said, "Residents of neighborhoods that are near the potential casino sites have raised some very legitimate concerns about the impact on their communities. I also had legitimate concerns about how local zoning ordinances might be used unfairly to place unnecessary obstructions in the way of casinos.

"But because of the strong community opposition, I am willing to try local control. I will be watching very closely and will ask the legislature to revisit the issue, however, if local zoning procedures become simply a tool for delaying or preventing the building of casinos."

The press release said Fumo continues to believe casinos should be opened as quickly as possible after their approval. NIMBY neighbors, the release declared, should not be able to use zoning regulations to slow down or stop the process.
Because Vince Fumo wouldn’t know anything about unfairly using the inconsistencies of local zoning ordinances to slow down or stop developments he didn’t favor.

Oh wait. He, like, totally would. Flashback to March 2006 and Vinnie’s reaction to the Barnes Tower to be built on the Parkway: [emphasis added]
"This is not a fait accompli despite what they [developers Daniel Katz and Dalia Shuster] say," said State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, the influential Philadelphia Democrat who lives just blocks from the proposed "Barnes Tower."

Fumo reminded the crowd of about 500 people at Highway Tabernacle Church at 18th and Spring Garden Streets that "they were going to build a baseball stadium in this neighborhood. ... There's no stadium at Broad and Spring Garden. This community has enough funds to litigate this for the next 20 years."
Wow. We’d call him a hypocrite but we’re not sure that would really do him justice.

Let’s recap. According to Vince:

A. Residents who are worried about the prospect of sprawling, urbanity-killing crapsinos being nothing more than glorified slot-barns = NIMBYs.

B. Vince Fumo stubbornly opposing an excellent residential development because he thinks it’s too tall = totally legitimate… enlightened even.

Where we wouldn't follow this man, we cannot say.

Fumo and Perzel fight to build a bridge to nowhere [Daily News]
Fumo: Does this press release make me look sensitive, yet ominous at the same time? Because that’s what I’m really going for here [ via the Evening Bulletin]
47 stories? OMG, the sun will never show its face in Fairmount again [Inky, via Google Cache]
A voice of reason, Mark Alan Hughes tries to spell it out [Daily News]
Oh Snap — this time a little more direct-like: "Just because a senator invests a lot of money in a house without knowing that a nearby property could someday partially block his view doesn't protect his investment." BURN. [Daily News]

Monday, October 23, 2006

Thankfully, Philadelphia is no longer the country’s capital

hey, did i show you my gearshift belt buckle?Because if it was, we’d probably shoot ourselves in the face. After, like, a day.
They had arrived at the fall party, Swine on the Vine, of the Capital Club, a Washington group of 100 politically connected young men, who are known for partying like they’re back at a fraternity kegger.
The dress code was preppy enough for a polo ground: women in pearl necklaces, lightweight wrap sweaters and jeans tucked into riding boots. Men favored oxford shirts with sunglasses strung around their necks. Jeff Kimbell, a lobbyist who is a former club president, wore a belt buckle made from a car’s gearshift handle (with options for “drive and reverse,” he said suggestively). Josh Overbay, who works for the United States Chamber of Commerce, wore a camouflage hat that said, “Support Wildlife. Drink Wild Turkey.”

“Girls love to hate them,” observed Bridget Bunner of the Capital Club’s 100 men. Ms. Bunner, a 23-year-old fund-raiser for Democratic Congressman Alan B. Mollohan of West Virginia, added, “They’re the kind of guys their moms want them to marry.”
Wow. Our eyes are actually bleeding.
“I hate when we get painted with that picture of a bunch of bratty kids or of a privileged young Republicans’ club,” said George Vincent, 25, a real estate developer. “I know a lot of the guys fit that, but not all. The Republican part works, but I’m not pretentious.”
Aww. Can you hear that? It’s the world’s tiniest violin playing a tune just for you.

Girls of the Madison and the Junior League fight to “be the ultimate trophy wife” of the “dirtbag” boys of DC’s Capital Club [NY Times]
Online viral video hits a little too close to home for the residents of Philadelphia’s Main Line [Philebrity]

Breaking: Sixers to employ new and improved “Big Willie Style” offense

Will Smith wants to buy the SixersThe rumors are true. Comcast-Spectacor, it turns out, is fairly deep in the process of selling the 76ers. The Inquirer reports that eight groups submitted initial bids to be considered for purchase of the team, which are estimated to approach $450 million.
Despite the enormous price, there is still a belief that the 76ers can become a profitable enterprise, given Philadelphia's size as a media market and the team's history.
And, of course, factoring in that the team will no longer be owned/managed by a bunch of incompetent fucking morons.

Meanwhile, four of the initial bids have been eliminated, leaving four finalists.

And one of the four remaining groups reportedly includes Dr. J and Will Smith.

Awesome. Now they just have to make sure that Howard Eskin is only allowed to be an investor is if he agrees to be a silent partner. And we mean “silent” in every possible sense of the word.

Will Smith is chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool and shooting some b-ball (with the Sixers) outside of school [Inky]
Pat Croce gets what every disgruntled former employee wants: a chance to give the old boss a proverbial kick in the nuts

Friday, October 20, 2006

Page Six (abashedly) appropriates Philadelphia’s one-time obsession with Stephen Starr

Page Six hearts Stephen StarrSo the other day Page Six ran an item about Stephen Starr and how Zagat named him New York’s Restaurateur of the Year… and how he’s already aiming to open two more restaurants in Manhattan — this in addition to outlets in Las Vegas, London and just about anywhere else where moneyed people recreate and blah, blah, blah.

The funny part, however, is that in the item, Page Six claims Philly media were all over the news of Starr’s most recent recognition, while New York papers were hardly impressed.
THE Zagat Survey named Philadelphian Stephen Starr as New York City's restaurateur of the year in its new 2007 guide. While the story ran big in the City of Brotherly Love, the local press passed on giving it any ink.
Uh, we guess… if by “ran big” they meant got a single mention in a “newsmakers” sidebar column that’s buried on C2 of the Inquirer and which no one really reads. Seriously, see all the “City of Brotherly Love” coverage for yourself. Crazy, right?

Michael Klein — who reports all things Starr — nothing. Not in Inqlings or Table Talk. Dan Gross… similarly silent. Hell, we even saw it and knew it didn't warrant passing on. And you know we have a bit of a hard on for Stephen.

So, Page Six, what gives? Still pissed about that sixth borough thing? Do you have to justify the fact that it’s a slow news day and you’re printing something that's not really news… by pretending that it’s important to some people somewhere?

Kinda lame. But we can’t say we’re exactly surprised.

Nice work. Solid reporting.

We mean, sure, from time to time you have to take certain liberties with the truth… but this isn't even gossip — they’re just making shit up [NY Post]

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pat’s to Rick’s: If we were the Kennedy’s, you’d definitely be Ted Patrick

There’s trouble in cheesesteak paradise. Pat’s King of Steaks, named after Pat Olivieri, the inventor of the cheesesteak sandwich, is suing Rick’s Steaks, an operation owned by Rick Olivieri, the grandson of Pat.
The lawsuit filed Monday by Pat's claims that Rick's has been illegally trading on Pat's name, its crown logo and trademarked phrases, including "Pat's King of Steaks Originators of the Steak Sandwich."
Rick's at Citizens Bank ParkRick’s outfit at Citizens Bank Park [at right, click to enlarge] definitely has a crown and references Pat’s.

Apparently, Pat’s got pissed after it saw Rick’s got invited to the Today show while they did not.
The suit is the latest in a long-sizzling family food feud, putting cousin against cousin.

Here's the family tree: Brothers Pat and Harry Olivieri invented the cheesesteak in 1933 at their stand at Ninth Street and Passyunk Avenue. Pat's is run by Harry's son and grandson, both named Frank, while Rick's is run by Pat's grandson.

The agita stems from 1970, when Pat Olivieri left for California, leaving other family members to run the business. Pat Olivieri died in 1974; Harry died July 20.
Well, shucks, it isn’t national news from Philadelphia if it doesn’t involve cheesesteaks.

Pat’s: Enough is enough — I’ve had it with these motherfucking steaks on this motherfucking grill [Inky]
Pat’s to Rick’s: shhh, don’t worry, we’ll settle out of court for a roast pork Italian (on us) — we’re just trying to make sure America doesn’t associate “cheesesteaks” with “Geno’s”

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Green roofs are all the rage… uh, except not here

If this looks like it could be Philadelphia, it couldChicago [right] has had incentives for building green roofs since 1998, thanks to their tireless Mayor, Richard M. Daley. As a result they’re at the forefront of the movement, nationally.

With more than 50 buildings with green roofs, Washington, D.C. isn’t too far behind.

Proponents in New York have been aggressively lobbying City Hall for incentives for green roofs over the past two years. In fact, Long Island City in Queens [below] is a candidate to become a veritable neighborhood of green roofs.

And in Philadelphia — you guessed it — crickets. At least in City Hall. [emphasis added]
Although limited in scope, a recent boom in green-roof construction demonstrates the pressing need for more.

While Chicago and Washington, D.C., lead the way in planting green roofs, broad swaths of the country remain gray. Why the hesitation? In cities without Chicago’s single-minded program of grants, tax breaks, and regulations, the initial expense might seem prohibitive. […] But green roofs’ documented advantages—saving energy, controlling runoff, offsetting urban heat islands, and providing new habitats for wildlife—profit the public as much as building owners. If the experiences of Chicago and Germany are any indication, government needs to provide incentives that address short-term costs before green roofs can begin to ease our increasingly dense, hot cities.
Green roofs across AmericaHello? City Hall? Anyone there? “Provide incentives” means you need to offer things like tax abatements for property owners who build green roofs. That’s why we have you guys, you know — to make sure we, collectively, pay for things that are for the public good and improve Philadelphia’s overall quality of life, but might not be explicitly glamorous enough enough for individuals to monitor and support independently, like, say, public transportation, public health and public education.

We know you can do it. Check out Chicago: [emphasis added]
Two years ago, Chicago began offering a density bonus in the central business district in exchange for green-roof installation. The city uses a complex formula to calculate the bonus, but at least 50 percent of the roof must be covered with vegetation before the bonus starts to apply. More significantly, of the estimated 150 green-roof projects currently in development, only 12 are taking advantage of the city's incentives. The rest are being built because the city requires that new developments that benefit from city financing must install a green roof.
(And talk to our boys at Philadelphia Forward. They literally have, like, a gazillion ways Philly can lower its bad taxes while actually taking in increased tax revenue via good taxes and things like increased economic growth. Honest.)

Why do we need City Hall to take the lead and not leave it up to private developers? Because there has to be a coordinated effort.
"Isolated green roofs are expensive insulation," Ms. Hoffman said. "But when you have a whole community of green roofs, it changes the microclimate of the area and reduces demand for energy. Think about one sidewalk in front of a building. That doesn't make a transportation path. But if everyone has one in front of their property, you have a way to walk around the city. Only a citywide effort can achieve that."
Long Island City in Queens is a candidate to become a veritable neighborhood of green roofs.What's more, government-led efforts actually gets results.
Chicago now has both requirements and incentives in place for private businesses to follow the city's lead. As a result, Sadhu Johnston, Chicago's commissioner of the environment, said there were approximately two million square feet of green roofs already built or in various stages of construction in Chicago.
"It's a combination of incentives and requirements," Mr. Johnston said. McDonald's built a flagship restaurant in downtown Chicago and installed a highly visible, 3,150-square-foot, bi-level green roof. Target and Apple Computer have also installed green roofs on their stores in Chicago.
Sounds rather awesome. But is it practical here?
“Philadelphia, in particular, is one of the easiest cities to do it,” adds Miller. “A lot of the older buildings in the city have very heavy roof structures. They were designed at a time when builders waterproofed roofs by putting up thick layers of coal, tar and fabric, which was quite heavy.”

Dear Mayor Daley: Philadelphia has an election coming up next year… any chance you want to come play? [Metropolis]
Don’t you dare call our green roof a "roof garden" [NY Times]
Hey, it’s Philly, so the fact that we even know what a green roof is, like, pretty impressive [PW]
And in case we don't... The anatomy of a green roof [USA Today]

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Camden’s got more than guns

They’ve also got Miss New Jersey 2007.
Ashley Harder, an on-air host for Channel 57 since December 2005, was crowned Miss New Jersey USA 2007 last night in Parsippany, New Jersey. Harder was chosen from a field of 105 contestants. This was the first time Harder had competed in any pageant. She will compete for the title of Miss USA this spring as one of 50 young women from around the country.
She is a graduate of Camden Catholic High School.
Keep your head up Camden — there's hope for you yet.

CW Philly knows what sells (and her name is Asley Do-I-Make-You Harder) [CWPhilly]

Monday, October 16, 2006

Pat Croce gets what every disgruntled former employee wants: a chance to give the old boss a proverbial kick in the nuts

We’ve never forgiven Ed Snider (nor should we have) for refusing to put his ego aside and give Pat Croce the promotion he deserved (CEO) after the Sixers 2001 season. Not only would the past five years have been dramatically different (read dramatically better) for the Sixers, but also Comcast-Spectacor wouldn’t be the pathetic excuse for an NBA ownership that they are today.

And God bless him, sometimes Stephen A. just nails it.

Croce to Samuel L.: Enough is enough. I've had it with these motherfucking morons on this motherfucking court.Over the last few years, due to mounting evidence of their flagrant and disturbing shortcomings, it's clear a couple of Philadelphia teams - the Phillies and 76ers - are in desperate need of a few things.

Victories would be first on the list. Charisma a close second. And, goodness only knows, an astute public relations department wouldn't hurt anybody.

There was a time every franchise in this city knew this. A time when Pat Croce was sprinting around, resembling a motivational speaker on speed transforming a city long infamous for its cynicism into a sports town publicized for its euphoria.

It's five years later now. Years removed from the days of Allen Iverson sitting on coach Larry Brown's lap after capturing league-MVP honors, from the Sixers being allowed to sniff the NBA Finals - and the Phillies being everything but a playoff team - and the thing that appears clearer than ever is how much this city needs Pat Croce back in the mix.
If Comcast-Spectacor, indeed, is trying to sell, the prospective buyers should include Pat Croce. If David Montgomery and any of the managing partners are willing to sell a portion of the Phillies, a boycott should be imposed if Croce is not allowed to be a prospective buyer.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Seriously. Why Pat Croce isn’t getting five of his closest friends together (Samuel L. would work...), rounding up $450 mill, and buying the Sixers is fucking beyond us. Hell, we’ve suggested it before. It’s totally within the realm of what needs to happen.

Croce should give TrumpStreet a rest and focus his efforts on something that doesn’t suck.
As hard as it is to imagine, the Sixers have actually been worse public relations-wise than they've been on the court.

Despite having a mercurial box-office attraction like Iverson, they still reportedly dipped approximately seven percent in attendance. The team hasn't been that entertaining since Brown departed, despite having four coaches since he left.

Victories have waned, evidenced by two trips to the lottery in the last three seasons. The dancers aren't even the same. Neither are the in-game theatrics, supposedly placed before us for entertainment purposes.
Word. At least the Phillies and their old-white-man brain trust management tries to make attending games fun, introducing two new promotions this season — College Nights and Rooftop Thursdays — aimed at drawing younger, more enthusiastic fans to games. Combine them with Dollar Dog Days and you have some solid deals making the Phillies a lot more accessible.

Comcast-Spectacor and the Sixers front office, on the other hand, are still utterly clueless. Just take a look at the stellar lineup of promotions they’ve planned for the upcoming 2006-07 season.

Pat Croce buying the Sixers could not happen soon enough.

Stephen A. Smith wants Pat Croce to save Philadelphia sports [Inky]
Pat Croce returns all of his calls and wants you to ask him to buy a professional franchise with you [Inky]

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Developers beware: if NIMBYs don’t stop you, phantom air-rights sales probably will

Ok, try and keep up.

In 2004, Joe Federman and Nette Properties bought a building at 19th and Spring Garden from Claire Nelson. This summer, Federman announced his intentions to build a 40-story residential tower there.

No big deal, right? As if. The proposed tower went over like a pretty girl at fat camp.

Mofos in the Spring Garden Civic Association were piiiissed. “It’s too tall. Our quiet, peaceful neighborhood will be ruined,” they screamed.

(Whatev. Have any of them ever walked down Spring Garden Street? Ok, after 4 p.m.? We think it’s pretty fair to say that the neighborhood could benefit from a little added density.)

Things weren’t looking good for the SGCA (and their one member). The lot was already zoned for a high rise so Federman didn’t need to get any variances from the inimitable ZBA. But as fate would have it, someone else got in the way.

Federman heard from the Lutheran Associates, the owners of the Spring Garden Towers, a 17-story building at 1818 Spring Garden (the white, L-shaped one at right), who claim “it has owned the air rights over 1822 Spring Garden since 1976, when it bought the rights from Franklin Town Corp. as part of the original Franklintown urban-renewal project.”

Whaaa? Air rights disputes? In Philadelphia? Sweet fancy Moses.

In Federman’s corner: a record of the sale of 1822’s air rights to Nette Properties and a 2004 deed affirming sale of 1822’s air rights to Nelson.

In Lutheran Associates’ corner:
a "deed of correction and confirmation" from December 2002 - in which Lutheran Associates reasserted its 1976 ownership of air rights from its building at 1818 Spring Garden to the southeastern corner of 19th and then south to Buttonwood Street."
FYI, we just got a “deed of correction and confirmation” for the air rights over 1915 Walnut Street. Yeah, apparently, they're up for grabs.

If only New York could see us now… they’d be so proud [Inky]

Breaking: Whole Foods on the move, pedestrians approach at your own risk

News comes today that Whole Foods, spurning G-Ho and Northern Liberties, will be picking up shop from 20th and Callowhill and moving to a brand new development just a few blocks away at 16th and Vine.
Meanwhile, Whole Foods, the neighborhood supermarket at 20th and Callowhill Streets, plans to move in 2009 to 16th and Vine Streets, anchoring a mixed-use tower to be built by developer David Grasso of Metro Development, on what's now a parking lot.

Though Grasso could not be reached for comment, Whole Foods' director of marketing Sarah Kenney confirmed the move in an interview Friday. Kenney said the current 16,000-square-foot store and tiny parking lot would stay open until the move into the new, bigger store: 64,000 square feet including 42,000 square feet for sales.
Determined to one-up Trader Joe’s, who famously opened a Center City store without a front door in 2004, Whole Foods will require pedestrian shoppers to cross a Temple-of-Doom-style foot bridge over the Vine Street expressway to gain entrance, while spoiling customers that drive with free parking, free gas and complimentary foot rubs.

(Seriously, click — we dare you to try and find a sidewalk.)

Whole Foods hates people
Whole Foods announces new Center City location — the least pedestrian accessible lot ever and in an area no one really lives — and thereby reveals it is indeed in bed with Halliburton [Inky]

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Holy crap, the Internets are coming…

And this time, the tubes are invisible.

Over the next few weeks, Earthlink and Wireless Philly will be launching the much-discussed WiFi service across some 12 neighborhoods in Northeast Philadelphia. Northern Liberties, Fishtown and Port Richmond — you all score. Nicetown, G-town and Frankford — not so much.

And Earthlink is already selling the service online.

Granted, you might have to hold your computer out the window to pick up a signal, but hell, that still beats having the Comcast technician pass out on your couch, right?

Speaking of Comcast, is it just us or have they been surprisingly quiet about the whole thing recently? Didn’t they used to be, like, pretty vocal about their opposition to the whole thing? (Oh right, we remember… unlike a certain progressive, wildly successful media/technology company based in Mountain View, CA, who embraced the idea and helped their hometown be at the forefront of a global trend — Comcast reacted to the idea with astonishing close-mindedness.)

Maybe it’s because they’re busy with their smear campaign against cable competition in Pennsylvania with commercials claiming “Verizon only wants to provide cable to rich people.” Or maybe it’s because they’re secretly planning to use their new Comcast Center as a giant wireless router for the whole city.

Whatever the reason, they’re surely up to something.

A whopping 11% of the 135 square miles to be covered by WiFi… might be soon [KYW]
Earthlink wants you, Philadelphia

Friday, October 06, 2006

NB to Kimmel Center: better get used to it, cause apparently it ain't gonna stop

In her review of Penn’s newest addition (which, incidentally, she calls Philadelphia's best new building in years), Inga Saffron lets it slip that she’s still hella-pissed about how egregiously the Kimmel Center effed the city.
Before we peek inside, a few words need to be said about the green bricks. Some Penn officials feared they were a radical choice that would ruin the effort to brand the university as an oasis of tradition, but the school's dean, Eduardo O. Glandt, insisted that a building devoted to bioengineering had to look modern. Because the field is freighted with difficult moral issues, Williams and Tsien understood Skirkanich had to present its modernism with a human face.

So, while the bricks are a synthetic, Prada-esque green, they're also handmade. Ordinary red clay was pressed into molds that left the bricks puckered and rough. After that, they were coated with a manganese glaze. To ensure the custom product would stand up to time, the architects had them tested twice. Then the bricks were laid by hand, one by one. Compare that process with the Kimmel Center's, where factory sections of prelaid brick were wallpapered onto the exterior. [emphasis added]
They used McMansion brick and still went over budget by $23 million? Yikes.

Inga Saffron refuses to give Viñoly, Kimmel Center a break — even after five years — and we love her for it [Inky]
And back in '04, there was really no mincing of words [Inky, via Google cache]

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Google Transit to solve PA public transit woes

A year back, Google introduced their transit trip planner, using Portland, OR as their guinea pig.
The project, available at, allows a user to quickly and easily find what bus to catch, where to catch it and how long it will take to reach the destination.
The Web site for Portland even tells users how long the walk to the bus stop is, how much the trip will cost and what the savings is as opposed to driving.
Well, last week Google added five more cities to Google Transit and get this — good old Pennsylvania got in on the action.
This morning, Pittsburgh becomes one of six cities making public transportation schedules -- and how best to use them -- available in a venture launched by Google, the online search engine.

Google has had a pilot program in place for Portland, Ore., since early this year. That experiment caught the eye of travelers and Internet users, as well as officials working for public transportation agencies across the country.

"We got lots of e-mails from users saying, 'This is awesome, I love it, I can't wait till you have it in my city,'" Mr. Garg said. "We also got a lot of e-mails from transit agencies saying 'How can we be involved?'

"One of those agencies was the Port Authority of Pittsburgh."
We can guess which agency Google DIDN'T get an email from. (Hint: it begins with a “SEP” and ends with a “TA.”)

And why would they have? Definitely wouldn’t want to do anything that might actually increase ridership.

Does this mean Rendell is only going to give dedicated funding to the transit agency without shit for brains? [Post-Gazette]

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Philly Mag asks… Which do you prefer: pretentious yuppies or (photoshopped) yuppie pretensions?

Having opted to use two different covers for their October “Best Places to Live” issue, Philadelphia Magazine now wants to know which one is better. We assume it's actually a thinly veiled attempt to see how much of their content should be focused on the city versus the Main Line. After all, P-Mag wouldn't bother with anything as tedious as a subscriber survey. Anyway...
Pick Your Favorite "Best Places to Live" Cover! We couldn't decide which of this month's Best Places to Live we should show — city or suburb — so we printed both. We'd love to know which one you prefer — and to hear what you think of both of them.
Fun, right?

But wait. The city shot isn’t even real.
The suburban cover was shot at a suitably suburban house in Lower Merion, with a couple and a dog. The mag, alas, couldn't get the city look down. The photo was shot inside a Northern Liberties loft, and a skyline from another NoLibs location was superimposed, a mag rep says.
Son of a bitch. We were just about to call Jill Rizen.

P-Mag: we were going to give the couple a kid, but, in the end, we felt it slanted a little too much toward no-fucking-way-is-this-believable-even-for-our-valium-loving-readers, so we went with a dog instead... and got the exact same effect [Philly Mag]
Center City way too far from Northern Liberties for the needs of Platt and Co. [Inky, last item]

Monday, October 02, 2006

Free museums? Why? Paying $20 to get in is, like, our birthright

So two years ago, MoMA reopened in Manhattan with a meaty $20 admission fee. For its part, the Philadelphia Museum of Art liked what it saw — after all, they’d already raised their ticket price for special shows (like Degas and the Dance and Manet and the Sea) to $20 back in ‘03.

Since then, there’s been a few folks who think that $20 is a bit steep to see a collection of art supposedly meant to enlighten the public. (Silly liberals — fine, you can have the museum on Sunday mornings between 6:45 and 7:30 a.m. But you have to be gone by 8 o'clock sharp — the museum needs to get rid of any evidence that you were ever there before reopening. Kay-bye.)
As many of the world’s most notable museums raise their admission prices — in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has followed the Modern’s lead and is now asking for a donation of $20 for an adult — the cultural institutions of Baltimore and a few other cities are going in the opposite direction. Both the Walters Art Museum, left, and the Baltimore Museum of Art will be free to the public as of today.
Whaaaa? Free? But how are you going to keep the undesirables out if you don’t charge exorbitant ticket prices?
“The museum’s mission is to bring art and people together and we were finding the cost was an impediment to fulfilling that mission,” said Gary Vikan, director of the Walters Art Museum, adding that his institution is following an example set by major museums in Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Dayton, all of whom have stopped charging admission. “Happily, they found it led to a more diverse audience, as well as more community participation.”
Diversity? Um, good luck with all that.

And in Philadelphia? Well, Center City Arts and Culture Fest is coming later this month, with free tickets to museums, theaters, concerts, etc. But not so fast Harry Handout — tickets are only available online and in advance… so good luck.

And what do you know — they’re basically sold out after one whole day of availability.

Thank you, mister digital divide.

If it’s free, can you really call it art? [NYTimes]
CultureFest so festive, it’s conveniently sold out before anyone even heard of it — suggesting they really went overboard with the number of tickets offered []