Friday, November 9, 2012

Philadelphia's Urban Body Double: Glasgow

The just released trailer for next summer's zombie-blockbuster "World War Z" is seeing a lot of attention around Philadelphia today, as the city is Pitt's home in the film. In the last couple of years especially, Philadelphia has seen a lot of in-town filming, usually as a stand-in for New York. It's always entertaining to walk down Walnut Street and see MTA buses and NYPD police cars.


In a typically cruel twist of fate, despite actually being the setting for the film, all of the World War Z street scenes were shot elsewhere. And what city was chosen to be Philly's body double? Glasgow, Scotland. A friend of mine, Carlos Fornos, a New York architect, did a lot of work in Glasgow last year and reports that Glasgow seems like a sensible stand-in for Philadelphia. Glasgow is Scotland's blue-collar city, with a similar building scale and street grid. But to Fornos, Glasgow has, "a darker feel than Philly, with its Victorian architecture. Add in the wonderful climate of Scotland, and I guess that's why it made a good setting," for a zombie flick.

Carlos also sent along a set of photos from Glasgow during the shooting, all taken by Irish architect Jason Bell. The shots fly by in the trailer, but the photos allow one to take a good look at the props in Glasgow. It's interesting to see a view from the ground of what the Glasgow production team did to emulate Philadelphia. It's too bad that Philly missed out on a chance to star as itself for once, and enjoy the estimated 2 million pound economic boost that came with the filming.

Production trailers.
I spy a yellowtag! The Chevy Lumina taxi in the back looks to be about the quality of Philly's cab fleet.
Signs for the Vine Street Expressway.
I assume that this building is supposed to be a stand-in for City Hall, and I suppose that it does bear a passing resemblance to Philly's seat of power, prior to its past decade of cleaning.
This building is making its best effort to be the 1937 Robert Nix Federal Courthouse at 9th & Market, Art Deco signage and all. 
This signage isn't quite accurate, both in look and information. The places are just a jumble of Philadelphia landmarks, and there are most certainly not public restrooms and a first aid station in Rittenhouse Square. But the biggest miss here is the sneaky British spelling of "Centre City."
A very different version of the intersection of 16th & Arch. I guess this is supposed to be Love Park? Also, not to nitpick, but the street signs are missing there distinctive Liberty Bell and block numbers. Sloppy work!
Hmm... an MTA bus? Maybe this is a not to all the New York-set movies that are shot in Philly? How meta! Also, the Nix Courthouse is over here on 16th, across the street from Love Park.
Signage for a made-up exhibit at the made-up Philadelphia Philanthropic Foundation.
More signage. Glad to see that the Scottish break out their cameras at the sight of filming, just like us.

Here's the corner of 16th and JFK. I'm not sure that the building behind has a good analog in Philly.
A fine facsimile of a PFD Medic unit.

Looking up at 'City Hall" from Arch Street. This building is actually Glasgow's City Hall.
More of the Vine Street Expressway signage.
A food delivery truck, replete with a 215 phone number!
I don't think that they have the route number right, but I think this bus wants to be a Septa route 42 bus, on it's way from Penn's Landing to 61st and Pine.

This SWAT truck is clearly out of a movie. I mean come on, this is Philadelphia. This thing is basically a mail truck. Here's an actual PPD SWAT vehicle.
A final look at the Nix Courthouse body double, complete with Philadelphia City Flag.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Check out My New Project: The Philly Skinny

Go check out my new project - a rehash of the late, great Skinny from phillyskyline.com. Take a look and help document Philly's revival!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Experiential Mapping

An image from a talk that I gave at MGA Partners about my experiential mapping project.

2011 - A Year in Maps.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The 2011 Philadelphia Marathon: 30,000 Runners in Two and a Half Minutes

I finally got around to assembling the timelapse photos I took at the start of the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon. You can watch the waved starts as all 30,000 people who ran the marathon came by my spot at Logan Circle. (including my lovely fiancee at the 1:38 mark) The finished video is made up of about 5,250 photos, one taken every second for almost an hour and a half.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

More Hale Building Photos on the Way

For those who are coming from the Hidden City photo essay about the Hale Building, please know that I am in the process of assembling a longer, 'director's cut' photo essay. I love this building and have since I first came across it years ago, and am really excited to be able to share a glimpse inside. The full photo essay will include more shots of the Hale building both inside and out, so please check back tomorrow to see it.


In the meantime, feel free to poke around this site. It's served as an outlet for my interests, be they old churches, timelapse photographynew developments, or hyper-local history.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Temple Student Residences - Timelapse #1

I made a quick timelapse of the work on Temple's new student residences at Broad & Cecil B. Moore yesterday morning. Workers were placing the formwork for the fifth floor slab, which should be poured tomorrow. Click through to Vimeo for the full 1080p experience.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Worth Checking Out: Feltron Annual Reports

From the 2007 Feltron Annual Report.

A chronic recorder of personal data (and extremely talented graphic designer), Nicholas Felton has been producing elegant reports of the minutia of his life for the last five years. The results are as engrossing as they are pretty. He's got a special knack for identifying the right data to record, be it drinks consumed, animals eaten, or modes of transport used, but it's his ability to synthesize and present all that great data that makes such an engaging portrait of an average year in an average life. 

This combination of data and presentation is now available to everyone as well, through Felton's website daytum.com, which allow users to track and graph just about anything they can come up with. This is a site I can really get in trouble with... the only question is what to record? 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Suggested Listening: 99% Invisible



I may be a little late to the game on this one, as I heard about the show through an always great RadioLab podcast short, but this is quickly becoming one of my favorite podcasts. (and I have a lot of favorite podcasts) As The Memory Palace is to history, and RadioLab is to science, so 99% Invisible is to the world of architecture and design. The San Francisco-based public radio podcast takes brief, well made looks at the more interesting phenomena of architecture ranging from acoustics to the Transamerica Pyramid. Definitely worth a listen.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Autumn Mural Construction - January 12, 2012

Third floor walls are up, and even some sheathing, leaving just the roof left to be framed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Autumn Mural Construction - January 11, 2012

Third floor deck in... The third floor and roof could well be up before the rain starts tonight. From the east side, there's still some to be seen. I wonder how much will remain once construction is complete.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Goodbye, Mt. Olive AME

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at the changes on my block over the last 55 years. One of the biggest and saddest changes was the renovation of the former Mt. Olive Church, which was stripped of most of its detail and appeal during a renovation at some point in those 55 years. In that post I wrote, "The really unfortunate fact is that this past renovation has likely sealed the fate of this church, which will probably see the wrecking ball in the next few years, as have many of the other churches in the neighborhood. Given that this one has been so badly compromised already, it's unlikely that many will come to its defense."


Here's the before and after picture, from March of 1954 and this December...








I hate to say I told you so, but an item on the January SOSNA zoning meeting agenda indicates that my prediction of the church's imminent demise will be borne out. To wit, "727 South 19th Street (former Mt. Olive AME Church): Demolition of existing church and erection of 5 single-family homes with rear-access parking thru a common driveway." Demolition and conversion to rowhouses is the same fate that befell two other nearby churches, Varick Memorial at 19th & Catharine and Metropolitan AME at 20th & Fitzwater. Both of those churches came to be similarly comprised architecturally towards the end of their lives. 


Despite the likely destruction of Mt. Olive, a process begun with that renovation some time ago, there is still hope for the survival of some of the other majestic churches in the neighborhood. On that same agenda, another church item appears, this one indicating a better fate for another church, "2319-27 Fitzwater Street (Greater St. Matthews) INFORMATIONAL:  Presentation about the renovation of existing church and rectory to be apartments."

Autumn Mural Construction - January 10, 2012

Second floor framing is up.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Construction on the 1800 Block of South Street

These places are flying up on the 1800 block of South. The two single family houses facing Kater are already framed up, and the foundations for two multi-family buildings fronting on South Street were going in today. Given that one owner had all four lots being developed, it's too bad that something more adventurous didn't end up here, like a large floor-through commercial space with condos above, or a condo building like the one currently going up on the 1200 block of Bainbridge, which puts something like twelve units on a similarly-sized block.

The four buildings that we'll be getting are the conservative play here, and I'm sure the developer will do fine. While I might have done something a little less conventional, it's still good to see another four vacant lots disappear from the neighborhood.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Autumn Mural Construction - January 6, 2012

This morning the concrete was all set and the materials were on-site for the first floor deck. I can't imagine that the mural will be visible by February. Sad to see it go, but happy to add a home and family to the city, and lose a few surface parking spots on an empty lot. This mural did its job well.