Arriving to Philly and setting up myself here was a challenge, still there were people that came along the way and helped me a lot to settle down here. During this process, I discovered lots of exciting things in the city. Philly to me is almost an embodiment of what they taught me at college that a city should be like.

I studied architecture at the Universidad Piloto de Colombia in Bogotá, my university is known by its urbanism approach within architecture formation. Along each studio project we were required to develop an urban design that integrates the architectural object with the city, for that they taught us urban theories, history, and case studies.

Based on that, I consider that Philly is an advanced city towards the accomplishment of the principles of the new urbanism and here is why:

  1. Walkability: While I was going crazy settling down, I realized I didn’t have to take that much public transportation and that a lot of people is always enjoying a good walk, everything is on a short walk distance and they are beautiful pedestrian paths with exquisite greenery that invites to enjoy walking.


  1. Connectivity: Philly streets network is well connected and super easy to understand by walking, from Broad Street to Market streets it is clear that getting around is not a big deal.


  1. Mixed use and diversity: It is common here to find in the same block a coffee shop, historical buildings, housing units and sometimes even more.


  1. Mixed housing: Especially in center city this is the norm, in a good percentage of buildings the first floors are restaurants, art related locals, coffee-bars etc.


  1. Quality architecture and urban design: There are crazy beautiful sites here in Philly, the right scales, relationship with natural features, materials and high-end architecture are on point.


  1. Increased density: Philly has variety of densities depending on where you are in the city, there are places where 15 + stories are the norm or others where it is strange to find buildings higher than 38 feet.


  1. Quality of life: To me, the quality of life here is pretty good, at least I am having a great time here.


Definitely my first impression of Philly was thrilling, it looked like the urban interventions we used to propose at college, everybody walking, having food and drinks at the public space through the commerce activity, windows and doors facing the streets as how Jane Jacobs said “eyes upon the streets” and a good amount of people using clean transportation such as skate board, bikes and scooters.

Maybe it looks like I am a bit of a nerd, but I have not experienced a city like Philly, if you are into urban research, historical buildings, Cheestakes or into having a nice brunch with friends at an outdoors table, then Philly will be a great place for you.

Stay tuned for Verse 2. See you then.

Gregory Gordon

Colombian afro-caribbean architect navigating the U.S market and experiencing it's culture. Into music, visual arts and finding beauty in this world.


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