Do I like it?

Philadelphia has a new skyscraper -- the 28 storey Cira Center. Everyone's asking "Do you like it?" and various important people are reacting. Some like it. Some don't.

It was a bit startling at first, because the angles don't seem "right" from any direction. But I have to say that it could have been worse. I'm used to boring skyscrapers, and this one's anything but. I can't honestly say I'm in love with it, but I can say it's growing on me. The fact that the building always looks different and never quite makes sense gives it a subtly commanding presence. As architect William Becker said, it's "impossible to ignore."

Here's a picture I took Friday in the rain (from my car) showing it looming behind an older, industrial-style building:


While I'm a fan of Neo Classicism, and I especially love the Richardsonian style which typifies the Midwest, I have no illusions that the Neo style will be revived. "Neo-Neo," I think, will remain a no-no for the near future. And I'm afraid if they did revive the style, they'd manage to make it look tacky, which this isn't.

Some background on the architect, Cesar Pelli:

It is quite notable for Philadelphia to have a Pelli building. Cesar Pelli was born in Tucumán, Argentina. In 1977 he became Dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University and established Cesar Pelli & Associates in New Haven, Connecticut.

Pelli's work has been widely published and exhibited, with eight books dedicated to his designs and theories. In 1995, the American Institute of Architects awarded Cesar Pelli its Gold Medal In 1991, the AIA selected Pelli as one of the 10 most influential living American architects.

His famous designs include, Canary Wharf, London; World Financial Center, Manhattan; Crile Clinic Building, Cleveland ; Rice University's Herring Hall, Houston; Carnegie Hall Tower, New York City; Owens-Corning World Headquarters, Toledo, Ohio.

I'm surprised the article didn't mention the very cool Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

While some local blog commenters don't like its nighttime appearance, considering some of the architectural atrocities that have been committed in Philadelphia, I'm amazed that something as graceful and as witty as the Cira Center ever came into being here.

I like it more in person than I did when I saw the drawings, and I like it more each time I see it.

(That's probably a compliment, considering how I hate change.)

posted by Eric on 10.09.05 at 10:13 PM


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Do I like it?:

» Philly’s New Skyscraper, Cira Center from The English Guy
I’ve always had an attraction to architecture, all the different styles, not the engineering aspects mind you, just the aesthetic. After blogsurfing today I found this pic of the Cira Center at Classical Values: It is quite a fetching build... [Read More]
Tracked on October 10, 2005 2:40 PM


Hmmm... kinda reminds me of Gehry's Disney Concert Hall which caused its own stir here. I think it's kinda neat, myself. Though I'm left utterly cold by the Los Angeles' Catholic Our Lady of Angels Cathedral (as some wags would have it - Taj Mahoney) It looks more like an upscale mini-mall.


I'm just glad this gorgeous building has been preserved and restored.

Darleen   ·  October 10, 2005 12:08 AM

James Howard Kunstler (a favorite target of Justin) hates Frank Gehry --

-- which tends to make me a Gehry fan as a matter of principle. (A friend in LA used to work for him, and thought he was an absolute genius.)

I'm really glad they've preserved the Bullocks building as they don't make 'em like that anymore.

Eric Scheie   ·  October 10, 2005 12:47 AM

Architects, ahhhh, architects! That twisted skyscraper looks extremely interesting. I wish they'd do something at least as good as that, or better, for the World Trade Center (rebuild! rebuild! -- higher than ever!). I, too, was disappointed in that Cathedral when I looked it up. A Cathedral -- especially one devoted to the Lady (the Queen of Heaven) -- should look like a Cathedral.

"Architecture is frozen music."
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Last night, I read an excellent article (in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies) on "Mimesis and Expression in Ayn Rand's Theory of Art" by Kirsti Minsaas. Extremely illuminating. I can see that Norma gravitates toward the representational arts (painting and sculpture) while Dawn gravitates toward the structural arts (architecture and music). The styles of it all....

Nope. Goethe, not Nietzsche. Remember, he was the one into color studies and all that stuff.

And why does a cathedral have to look like a cathedral? What about when they made the shift from a basilica to a cathedral? Same worship, different society. And, anyway, arguing over the physical expression of a sacred space is nothing new. Reading about the arguments in the Renaissance between adherents of the centrally planned church and the longitudinal nave church makes for pretty good stuff if you're into that kind of thing.

I like the LA cathedral, though its not my favorite Moneo building. And the Pelli skyscraper? Well, he takes other people's provocative ideas and makes them a little less provocative. Always has.

cp   ·  October 10, 2005 12:00 PM

Sorry, spelled my URL wrong the first time. Thanks.

cp   ·  October 10, 2005 12:03 PM

Goethe. I stand corrected on that one. Yes, I have read his Theory of Color. Fascinating. Nietzsche must have quoted Goethe on that point, he was an admirer of Goethe.

I still prefer that a Cathedral be designed in the Gothic style.

R'lyeh Has Risen!

Alan Kellogg   ·  October 10, 2005 6:24 PM

"Without knowing what futurism is like, Johansen achieved something very close to it when he spoke of the city; for instead of describing any definite structure or building, he dwells only on broad impressions of vast angles and stone surfaces - surfaces too great to belong to anything right or proper for this earth, and impious with horrible images and hieroglyphs. I mention his talk about angles because it suggests something Wilcox had told me of his awful dreams. He said that the geometry of the dream-place he saw was abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours..."

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn.

J. Case   ·  October 16, 2005 3:46 PM

April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Search the Site


Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link


Recent Entries


Site Credits