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.

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Homeowners Pay The Price When New Construction Damages Neighboring Rows

Homeowners Pay The Price When New Construction Damages Neighboring Rows

June 14, 2019  |  News

Owners of row houses are left with little recourse when demolition and new construction causes structural damage to their homes. Starr Herr-Cardillo takes a look at a growing citywide problem > more

The Origins Of The Eagles On The Market Street Bridge

The Origins Of The Eagles On The Market Street Bridge

June 13, 2019  |  Vantage

Ed Duffy rides the rails from Manhattan to Philadelphia to give us the backstory on the granite eagle sculptures that stand guard over the Schuylkill River > more

<em>Tonight Is Forever</em> Honors Stonewall Riots & Philly LGBT Activism History

Tonight Is Forever Honors Stonewall Riots & Philly LGBT Activism History

June 11, 2019  |  News

A new art installation at William Way LGBT Community Center connects local and national moments in gay liberation history. Ali Roseberry-Polier takes a look > more

New Exhibit Invites Visitors Inside The Life Of Row Houses

New Exhibit Invites Visitors Inside The Life Of Row Houses

June 6, 2019  |  News

"Rowhouse Workshop," an exhibition devoted to the culture of Philly’s most iconic residential form, opens on Friday, June 7 at Cherry Street Pier. Michael Bixler has the details > more

Introducing The

Introducing The “Mayor of Girard Avenue,” Larry Kane

June 4, 2019  |  Vantage

In Francisville, a sharp spike in real estate development has triggered displacement and a shift in demographics. But Larry Kane, a longtime resident and fixture of the neighborhood, isn't going anywhere. Richelle Kota introduces us to one of North Philly's most beloved residents > more

Community Advocacy Coalition Releases New Report On Development & Displacement

Community Advocacy Coalition Releases New Report On Development & Displacement

May 31, 2019  |  News

Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities, a collection of 65 local organizations, releases data and suggestions to help alleviate Philly's housing crisis. Ali Roseberry-Polier has the details > more