Up Close and Impersonal

 

A lot of people don’t have much affection for the austere high-rise structures built after WWII. All that raw concrete, steel and glass isn’t exactly warm and inviting, and I admit I made my fair share of jokes about the core buildings on Temple University’s main campus when I was a student there. Yet I’ve come to love buildings like this. Being surrounded by architects helps (I work as the communications director for an architectural nonprofit), and so does photography. There’s something fascinating about breaking these buildings down into geometrical slices. The symmetry…the lines…the shadows–there’s something transformative about viewing a building this way. Often, they cease acting as buildings and become functional abstract art on a grand and highly visible scale.

William J. Green Jr. Federal Building, 76 N. 6th Street

 

Philadelphia Police Department “Roundhouse” Headquarters, 8th and Race streets

 

Municipal Services Building, 1401 JFK Boulevard

 

National Museum of Jewish American History, Fifth and Market Streets

 

Hopkinson House, 604 S. Washington Square

 

1515 Arch Street

 

Eight Penn Center, 1628 JFK Boulevard

 

1700 Market Street

 

Four Penn Center, 1600 JFK Boulevard

 

Parking garage, 11th and Filbert streets

 

James Aloysius Byrne Federal Courthouse, 6th and Market streets

 

About the author

Dominic Mercier is a freelance writer, photographer, and graphic designer and Philadelphia native. He is a 2001 graduate of Temple University, where he majored in journalism. He is the former managing editor of Montgomery Newspapers and press officer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He currently serves as the communications director for the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. More of his photographic work can be seen here

Send a message!



6 Comments


  1. Nice work, Dominic. The one of the Hopkinson House completely threw me — I couldn’t place it at all. The one of the Green Federal Building is excellent too.

  2. I’m one of the few Philadelphians who has a fondness for these buildings.

    ps it is Hopkinson House.

  3. Great job Dom. Glad I came and looked at the whole job.

  4. These are great buildings (well most of them) and great photos. No apologies are needed for loving moderism. There is as much study in their proportions as in the finest acanthus!

  5. I’ve spent an abnormal amount of time photographing buildings all over town and the post-war/Brutalist creations are much like the city they call home in that they require some amount of effort to really enjoy. They don’t wow you with any particular styling or details at first and work very well as abstract objects. They certainly have a place in a cityscape but having a city full of them is like a diet consisting chiefly of Doritos – plenty of flavor, little substance.

    Your photographs do them justice. Philadelphians aren’t particularly given to looking up much (which is actually a good thing) but if we were we’d often be disappointed by what we saw. Seeing some buildings as you depict them here gives them a certain grace an untrained eye may not be able to discern.

  6. Thanks for all the kind words, folks!

Trackbacks

  1. Architectural Abstractions
  2. Dominic Mercier | Photography » Blog Archive » Ugly Ducklings

Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts
Trading Brake Pads For Ballet Slippers On South Broad Street

Trading Brake Pads For Ballet Slippers On South Broad Street

February 19, 2018  |  The Shadow Knows

The Shadow waltzes through the history of an old auto dealership in South Philly that has been a hub of classical dance training for over 30 years > more

Riding The Rails On Pennsylvania's Original Turnpike

Riding The Rails On Pennsylvania’s Original Turnpike

February 16, 2018  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

As Phase One of the Reading Viaduct Rail Park sets to open this spring, Harry K. takes us on a ride along the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad, one of the earliest railroads in America > more

New Schuylkill River Trail Extension Now Open

New Schuylkill River Trail Extension Now Open

February 15, 2018  |  Buzz

Michael Bixler takes us on a stroll down the newest segment of the Schuylkill River Trail > more

Replicas Of William Rush Originals Return To Fairmount Water Works

Replicas Of William Rush Originals Return To Fairmount Water Works

February 14, 2018  |  News

Missing for decades, two signature sculptures come home to Fairmount Water Works. A. Leonard Pundt has the details on how conservation efforts and carefully-crafted reproductions brought the iconic public artwork back to life > more

Discovering My Family's Place In The Workshop Of The World

Discovering My Family’s Place In The Workshop Of The World

February 12, 2018  |  Vantage

In Port Richmond, Amy Cohen has a chance encounter with her family's industrial past when she happens upon a sign for her grandfather's old business, the Philadelphia Rust-Proof Company > more

Smiling In South Philly At The Eagles Super Bowl Parade

Smiling In South Philly At The Eagles Super Bowl Parade

February 8, 2018  |  Last Light

Michael Bixler dives into the crowd down in South Philly at the Eagles parade with this photo essay > more