Author: Joseph Brin

Paris on the Parkway

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…

Portrait of a Neighborhood Park

  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…

Q&A: Who Needs Industrial Design?

“Early Industrial Designer” Joseph G. Brin © 2012 “Fluid, intuitive, plug and play, out-of-the-box” - all characteristics of user friendly experience endlessly hyped by many companies these days. However, they remain elusive – an industrial designer is one person actually…

Snowy Farmstead in the Big City

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,…

Word on the Street

Walking down South St. in Philadelphia on a warm, winter night (yes, a warm, winter night), I saw an attractive young lady seated at a small table with a small, manual typewriter. A blank sheet of white paper was flopping…

Queen of Hearts: Heather Ujiie

“Resurrection” ©2011 Heather Ujiie Heather Ujiie is an impassioned, collaborative designer with silvery hair in two tight buns, one securely fastened on each side of her head. Her mode of dress is arresting, often strong combinations of red, black and…

New York Impressions

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…

Profile: Charlie Miller, Green Roof Pioneer

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…

Profile: Richard A. Glaser, Timeless Landshaper

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…

Pier to Pier Networking

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…

B. Free Philadelphia

2004. News spread in Philadelphia on February 17, 4:15PM, that Faheem Thomas-Childs, ten years old, was dead.  He was caught in a hail of nearly 100 bullets, crossfire between rival gangs that occurred as children streamed into school to start…

APPLIED INTELLIGENCE

    “Bike Path in Time” Joseph G. Brin © 2012 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…

Living with Guild

I had read so much, seen so much, and heard so much about Robert Venturi's Guild House in Philadelphia that when I saw it for the first time it looked like, well, just another ugly building on a wide, dreary…

Local Hero

David O'Donnell is a local, historic preservationist hero in my book. He was head of a fledgling neighborhood preservation group I joined years ago. It seemed he was running six different committees at the time, a kind of start-up, serial…

Henry Ossawa Tanner, Painter (1859-1937)

“We never speak of Tanner in terms of racial difference...The United States is very different from the French way of considering Tanner,” says Sylvie Patry, “conservateur en chef” of painting at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, France. She's in Philadelphia…

Zagar

“Total Embellishment” Long before painter, filmmaker, showman Julian Schnabel began piling up broken tea cups on canvas, Isaiah Zagar was busy at work creating dazzling mosaics that exploded like glittering stardust across Philadelphia and throughout the world. Zagar is Philadelphia…

Two States of Mind in One

Jean Barr is living history. Every day. She may make a trip to the grocery store to pick up some fresh milk but returns to her house built in 1748, originally owned by a guy named Shippen who was an…

Party Like the Dickenses

Charles Dickens' 200th birthday is coming up soon and already, in England, they're a bit sick of him and all the fuss, says Janine Pollock, head of the Rare Book Department at the Free Library of Philadelphia. But that didn't…