The Philadelphia School, deterritorialized


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Mitchell/Giurgola Associates

Liberty Bell Pavilion

Mitchell/Giurgola architecture on a "not there" theme: colored pavilions at W.P.H.S., perhaps the Liberty Bell Pavilion, the Living History Museum, the Observation deck at Penn Mutual, the 8th Street subway entrance, brick facade at the Penn Parking Garage (Spruce St.), and maybe something about the park at Broad & Columbia.

2002.04.11 17:27
Re: being/critical
Went down to Independence National Park this afternoon. Wanted to take pictures of the 1976 Liberty Bell pavilion (Mitchell/Giurgola Architects) before it becomes completely quondam when the Bell is moved to its forthcoming new home in Spring 2003. With all the news about the first Executive Mansion (with slave quarters) of the USA, you would think that the plans to demolish the present Liberty Bell pavilion would be rethought (as I mentioned before).
Anyway, all the historic shrines are now barricaded and guarded (since 9-11), so I took pictures of this latest layer of American shrine history as well.
Palimpsest is not exactly apposition because an erasure occurs before something new is applied. Apposition occurs within palimpsest when traces of the erasure begin to be seen again.

2002.04.11 19:26
Re: being/critical
I do know John Lawson, but I haven't spoken with him in years. In fact, I had several conversations with him just as I was beginning to formulate Quondam (Fall 1996). Lawson was no doubt one of the top designer within the so-called "Philadelphia School", and I wanted to document the work of the Philadelphia School via Quondam. Lawson and his partner Rolin La France (architect and photographer of the famous picture of the Vanna Venturi House with Vanna sitting in front of it) are in possession of several sets of Mitchell/Giurgola working drawings that the now MGA(rchitects) no longer wanted to keep. I wanted to use some of these drawings to construct 3d models of two early unbuilt Mitchell/Guirgola works.
I spoke with two of the Park rangers at Independence National Park, and both immediately said they "hate" the current Liberty Bell pavilion, but they also both agree that that building has some of the nicest panes of glass anywhere. One ranger even said one could probably put in a bid for the glass before its demolished. He said, "You'd be surprised at how much is sold off." I replied, "Oh, I know all about how the Federal government "sells off" stuff, like National Park land."
There is one new visitors pavilion now open, a block north of the Liberty Bell. all honestly, inside it's everything you've let us know you despise, and then some. I don't like it either. It looks and functions just like the "public" parts of Franklin Mills (Outlet) Mall (in far northeast Philadelphia). No barricades though.

2003.04.20 17:59
Re: liberty architecture moving to ground zero?
I just spent the better part of this afternoon at Independence National Historic Park, visiting the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Bicentennial Bell Tower and several other historic buildings.
The Liberty Bell is set to be moved to the new building next to its current location sometime in September or October this year. The specific date is yet to be announced. All the National Park Service rangers I asked about the future fate of the Liberty Bell Pavilion told me it was "set to be razed."
Interestingly, the Liberty Bell Pavilion, as designed for the National Park Service by Mitchell/Giurgola Architects 1975-6, contains some very interesting fenestration set at very intense angles. It is a very modern building, and the only building ever designed specifically for the Liberty Bell. I took lots of pictures today...
Philadelphia owns Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Everything else within Independence National Historic Park is under the jurisdiction (if that's the right word) of the National Park Service. So, if the Liberty Bell Pavilion is to be saved it is the National Park Service that has the power to allow that to happen.

2003.12.02 17:21
so much for Liberty...
Although the quondam Liberty Bell Pavilion of Independence Historic National Park (Philadelphia) is officially for sale, the Park Service has nonetheless found a new (interim?) use for the building. It is now the security checkpoint for visitors to the Liberty Bell that is in the adjacent new Liberty Bell building. Today, while looking inside the former Liberty Bell Pavilion, I saw a man with outstretched arms being "checked" by a Park Ranger with a hand-held scanner right in front of where the Liberty Bell used to be with Independence Hall clearly in the background. Like they say, "Only in America."

2003.08.17 18:40
to see in Philly
The Liberty Bell Pavilion (Mitchell/Giurgola Architects, 1976) before it is demolished (or maybe moved) later this year.

2005.05.20 16:24
hotrod architecture
Picking up on "stealth communication with other experts," I'm recalling a detail from Kahn's Esherick House. I think in the hall right as you enter the house there is a light switch panel unlike anything I've ever seen before. Not only are there like eight toggle switches in a row, but the panel is set on the wall vertically, as opposed to the traditional horizontal mounting. Granted this is just a small detail, but, given that the building dates from 1959-61, such a light switch panel seems extreme (and I certainly thought that when I first saw it in 1977), but also elegantly simple in its execution.
While I'm "in" the Esherick House, the windows here also have an extreme-ness to them, and these windows are very much integral to the architecture.
And now I'm thinking of the enormous light hoods that "light" the communal spaces of Kahn's Erdman Hall dormitory at Bryn Mawr. Again there is this extreme-ness in terms of how light enters the space, and the resultant effect is very much part of what makes Kahn's architecture "great".

And now thinking further about "windows," my favorite panes of glass remain those at either end of the quondam Liberty Bell Pavilion (vintage 1976). While not a makeover, per se, the detailing of this building has an extreme-ness to it overall, even to the point where the roof/ceiling is split right down the middle so as to not disrupt the axis of Independence Hall. And even aesthetically, if you look at this building closely, it wouldn't be a stretch to say it has a 'hot rod' feel to it. And, as to performance, as much as most didn't like the building, representatives of the National Park Service will nonetheless admit that it served its purpose of allowing thousands and thousands of visitors to see, stand by, and touch the Liberty Bell very well.

Anyway, I never expected to be thinking about Kahn and Mitchell/Giurgola architecture in conjunction with "hot rodding", so again, "Who knew?"

2005.06.27 12:43
Re: WTC parking manifesto!
Back in 1976, Thomas Hine wrote an article about the then new Liberty Bell Pavilion. He basically said it was "almost all right" in that, although it could easily evoke a fast food restaurant, it nonetheless probably will serve its function well (which it actually did for almost thirty years). I remember Hine then telling the story of how the architects were very upset with him for comparing their design with a fast food joint. Unfortunately, the Liberty Bell Pavilion remained unliked by most (although I love the building, and yes it is [unfortunately not] slated to be saved and moved to a business campus in Bryn Mawr where more Mitchell/Giurgola architecture is--a little virtual museum of M/G architecture).

2006.03.17 11:37
non-event cities
Also today, after I wrote a post containing the word kicky, I read Inga Saffron's "Repulsive sense of security" in this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer, which contains these sentences: "Cywinski's sedate masonry structure was designed to replace Mitchell/Giurgola's swooping 1976 bell pavilion. That kicky little building, which is scheduled for demolition starting on Monday, was often criticized because it was seen as being too modern and disrespectful of Independence Hall."

2006.03.19 17:55
non-event cities
I don't know about you, but as far as architectural history is concerned, I think it's worth remembering that demolition of the Liberty Bell Pavilion is set to begin on the third anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.




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