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

Nathaniel Popkin is co-founder of the Hidden City Daily and author of three books of non-fiction, including Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City (with Peter Woodall and Joseph E.B. Elliott) and two novels, Everything is Borrowed and Lion and Leopard. He is co-editor of Who Will Speak for America, an anthology forthcoming in June 2018, and the senior writer of the film documentary "Philadelphia: The Great Experiment."



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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