Francis Morrone has written a breezy, insightful, and opinionated guide that's intellectually stimulating and generally well-grounded in its wide-ranging judgments, whether they involve cheesesteak sandwiches, architecture, or the comparative merits of William Penn and Ben Franklin. Morrone appreciates the city's strong architectural culture, but also isn't afraid to tweak the noses of a few local design icons, including those with the initials M/G, LK, and RV. (But alas, he dotes on the usually boring and bloodless Paul Cret.)
I just wish there were more of this book -- more illustrations and more buildings (such as the universally-overlooked Medical Building, one of the slimmest pre-war skyscrapers anywhere.) With significant structures such as Rafael Vinoly's Verizon Center, Robert Stern's Comcast Center, Cesar Pelli's Cira Centre, and Citizen's Bank Park having come on the scene since the book was published eleven years ago, it's time for an expanded second edition.
James Iska's uncommonly well-crafted photographs enhance the book, but deserve better treatment than the low-contrast reproduction afforded by the publisher.
All in all, a wonderful architectural guidebook to America's most underrated city.