Philadelphia: City Hall and One Liberty Place

Philadelphia: City Hall and One Liberty Place

Sometimes, when you're looking for an interesting urban composition, think juxtaposition of contrasting subjects. 

Philly being a historic town as well as a booming modern city, you may not have to look to far. In this case, I posed City Hall, more than a hundred years old, with Two Liberty Place, one of Philly's most innovative new skyscrapers.  

City Hall, built in the French Second Empire during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, is covered in ornamentation. You could easily amass a workable architectural vocabulary just by circumnavigating the huge structure and identifying its various details: Mansard roofs, cornices, acroteria, caryatids, oculi set in cartouches... I could go on.

Two Liberty Place, like its near twin One Liberty Place (out of view here,) is a postmodern design, sleek and unadorned. Its appeal comes from its interesting massing and its striking blue color. The architect for the two towers, Helmut Jahn, created them as a postmodern tribute to the Chrysler Building - a most successful tip of the hat, in my opinion. 

Telephoto compression makes the two buildings look almost right next to each other; they're actually several blocks apart. But the compression effect and the narrow angle of view of the telephoto (about 150 mm) allowed me to keep extraneous structures out of the image.

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