Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pig in a Prom Dress?

Whether or not you like Erdy-McHenry Architecture, one thing that can't be denied is that the firm designs interesting buildings and doesn't try to hide their experimental presence.

Their parking garage near Broad and Arch is nearing completion and popular opinion is mixed. With the building's unusual metal curtains draped across the fa├žade, is it a pig in a prom dress or the best way to address a necessary evil?

The architectural merits of parking garages is rarely discussed, and the discussion is a little silly because they typically all look the same. The best thing we usually hope for is some sensible ground floor retail. With construction costs making subterranean parking cost prohibitive, parking garages are everywhere and try their best to hide.

Erdy-McHenry's parking garage won't win any awards, but it's industrial, funky, and weird, and it works just fine amongst several centuries of Center City's eclectic architecture. Often, Erdy-McHenry's designs mix Brutalism and Bauhaus movements, using concrete, metal, and various raw materials with swatches of basic colors thrown in.

Their parking garage easily reflects this signature style, but with the graceful metal curtains signaling their harsh characteristics evolving. More interesting than the parking garage itself is certainly how Erdy-McHenry intends to incorporate their new design experiments into future projects.

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