December 20, 2008
Is that the spirit of Philadelphia urban planning legend Edmund Bacon roaming the marble floors in City Hall? With a growing number of policy moves and two key appointments, Mayor Nutter is taking aim at fixing the city's backward development planning process. In doing so, Nutter appears to be steering planning efforts in directions that recall Bacon's mid-century heyday. The mayor brought in urban planning veteran Andrew Altman as his deputy for planning and commerce, and named as City Planning Commission chief an architect steeped in urban-design advocacy efforts.
April 1, 2008 |
There are few municipal functions more basic than zoning and planning, the rules and process that dictate what can be built, where it can go, and how it should be done. In Philadelphia, most agree, that system is badly broken. An ancient zoning code and fickle political forces make building here a risky proposition for any big developer. And the Planning Commission is so weak that even skyline-changing towers can be erected with little to no meaningful input from public planners.
July 15, 1993 |
Why does the Charter Revision Commission wish to virtually dismantle the Art Commission? They want to turn over its art, design review and regulatory powers to a new majority of non-art "lay-persons" to be appointed by the mayor. A creature of the Rendell-Street political axis, the Charter Commission is simply going along with that administration's program without considering the value of maintaining Philadelphia's lovely visual environment. Trashing the Art Commission has been Rendell-Street's policy ever since a few of their business buddies fingered it. Some developers' get-rich-quick schemes didn't match the community's long-term design and esthetic concerns put forth by Art Commission experts.
October 6, 2012 |
Troubled by Philadelphia's recent approval of three controversial apartment houses, the agency responsible for the new Delaware waterfront master plan voted Thursday to strengthen its process for reviewing new buildings along Columbus Boulevard. The Delaware River Waterfront Corp. (DRWC), the independent agency that governs the central Delaware, will immediately set up a design review committee for evaluating proposals before they go to the Planning Commission, to determine whether they comply with master plan standards.
October 5, 2012 |
Troubled by Philadelphia's recent approval of three poorly designed and oversize apartment houses, the agency responsible for the new Delaware waterfront master plan voted Thursday to strengthen its process for reviewing new buildings along Columbus Boulevard. The Delaware River Waterfront Corp., the independent agency that governs the Central Delaware, will immediately set up a design review committee for evaluating proposals before they go to the Planning Commission, to determine whether they comply with master plan standards.
December 17, 2008 |
The broad outlines of a new design-review process for big developments in Philadelphia were discussed publicly for the first time at a City Planning Commission meeting yesterday. The proposal calls for a new seven-member board, composed principally of design professionals such as architects and planners, that would take into account aesthetics and other arguably subjective criteria as part of the formal municipal review of major new developments. After weighing community input and the views of the developer, and after considering how well the project in question meshes with the "public realm," the new board would make an advisory recommendation to the Planning Commission.
October 26, 2007 |
Except to those who resolutely averted their eyes during construction, it won't come as news that Symphony House is the ugliest new condo building in Philadelphia. The 32-story mixed-use tower flounces onto venerable South Broad Street like a sequined and over-rouged strumpet. Sheathed in a sickly shade of pink concrete, the building resembles, as one blogger wittily observed, a giant Pepto-Bismol bottle. If only it were possible to look away! When architecture is this bad, it's all too easy to pile on, or move on. But the lessons Philadelphia takes away from Symphony House will determine what shape this aspiring "Next Great City" assumes in the 21st century.
December 1, 2012
Gregg Popovich sent his best players home, deciding they reached the end of the road before the trip was over. For that, and for keeping it a secret, the San Antonio Spurs were fined $250,000 by the NBA on Friday. Commissioner David Stern said the Spurs "did a disservice to the league and our fans" when they didn't bring Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, or Danny Green to Miami for the final game of the six-game trip on Thursday. "The result here is dictated by the totality of the facts in this case," Stern said in a statement.
October 12, 2012
The award-winning plan for the central Delaware waterfront has been in place for little more than a year, yet it's already under attack for trying to reconnect Philadelphians with the river. Several projects slated to go up along the Delaware River recently have won approval from the city despite designs that seem out of sync with the guidelines in the waterfront plan. That plan was developed over several years, with input from hundreds of stakeholders representing the development and planning communities, organized labor, and conservation, civic, and neighborhood groups.
February 5, 2008 |
Philadelphia is in the midst of a zoning reform effort that will affect the city for decades. Yet since the Zoning Code Commission (ZCC) was approved by voters in May 2007, it has been unclear about how it plans to carry out its work, and how the public will be involved. While much attention has been focused on the cumbersome and archaic zoning code, Philadelphia's outdated zoning map is perhaps the larger culprit behind our complex and frustrating development process. The code is simply the rulebook, describing classifications for different types of structures.