Monday, June 10, 2013

Philadelphia Legends

This is the Saffroness that I love to read! In a recent Changing Skyline column, Inga Saffron challenged convention and colleagues without an ounce of self deprecating Negadelphianess, and proved just how much she loves this city given she could easily snag a job droning on and on about how great "better" cities are that everyone already knows are great.

While his products were products of their time, Bacon was inarguably a visionary. Even Penn Plaza and its underground concourse, as sterile as they are, were novel in their prime. He experimented, but just as importantly he built.

I'd take her comments further and say that there is no question that we're better off having had him, in spite of The Gallery and I-95.

Had he developed our city beyond the 70s we might actually have a Penn's Landing worth walking to. It's no coincidence that his retirement coincided with the beginning of four decades of design studies and architectural competitions that, to this day, have gone nowhere.

Without him Society Hill would be a blighted extension of South Philadelphia, a midcentury perception responsible for his interpretation of an expendable South Street. Because of him we have Queen Village and Hawthorn sidling up to some of the city's most expensive real estate that he created.

Philadelphians have a nagging reputation for bragging about our faults, a reputation that a century later, keeps Frank Furness and Willis Hale only locally appreciated. Bacon and Saffron are no exceptions to the rule, and the fact that they maintained or maintain a local loyalty only make them more exceptional at their jobs.

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