Imitation May Be Worse Than Flattery

Rendering: LDS Church

We might imagine the design of the new Mormon temple on Logan Square as a kind of giving up, or a warning: pandering to architectural context can be dangerous.

No one seems to want to discuss the appalling design of the $70 million temple–if we ignore it, it might just disappear, folks seem to say–but it points up real tension in the discussion about the role of new buildings. Should they blend in or boldly pronounce the values of our day?

My colleague Peter Woodall conjectures that a contemporary church might even be worse–and meanwhile I explore the contours of this re-emergent conversation in this Friday’s Inquirer. It’s one we’ll be following closely here on the Hidden City Daily.

About the author

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin’s latest book is the novel Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press). He is also the author of Song of the City (Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and The Possible City (Camino Books). He is senior writer and script editor of the Emmy-winning documentary series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine. Popkin's literary criticism appears in the Wall Street Journal, Public Books, The Kenyon Review, and The Millions. He is writer-in-residence of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.



1 Comment


  1. I rather of like it. It would appear to successfully mix federalist with greek classicism, a strange yet successful mix of 18th and 19th century styles for the 21st century.

    The non-matching towers on opposite ends of the building are very unusual. The positioning of the building, showing its side to the major street, is also quite unexpected. It finds a way of being new while reusing the old.

    I like modern day buildings as much if not more than most folks. I like the modern Christian Scientist church in downtown Chicago (it’s insane), but I don’t know how well it works in its environment. This Mormon church fits right in while being unique. I rather of like it.

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