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Milton Glaser died this weekend on his 91st birthday. Illustrator, publicist, editor, and more, he created some of the most famous archetypes of American pop culture in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
The graphic light fixture, who suffered a stroke and kidney failure at his Manhattan home, was undoubtedly a New Yorker. His most famous brand was I <3 NY, he designed the famous Brooklyn Beer logo and co-founded New York magazine.
However, Glaser’s skillful hand reached out to the Philadelphia area.
His work in the region included an eye-catching animal poster, a children’s theme park logo, and the full identity of a shopping mall. It was also the subject of a retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2001.
Here’s a look at the highlights of Glaser’s heritage in Philadelphia.
When the Philadelphia Zoo’s Carnivore Kingdom exhibition opened in the early 1990s, it was an important milestone for the park. “The narrow cages and concrete floors of years past were left behind,” a press release read about the $ 6 million project ($ 11 million in today’s dollars), according to the Morning Call.
Since then, it has been replaced as the zoo’s biggest predator home with Big Cat Falls, and its giant rock structures now form the Water Is Life area for otters and red pandas. But the exhibition is forever commemorated in a promotional poster created by Glaser in 1988. (You can purchase prints online for $ 150 through the Glaser website.)
The designer described the image as more complicated than usual, although he was obviously proud of the end result:
A design that plays with the idea of negative and positive space, dealing with a leopard that is represented three times, in positive, in negative and with an enlarged detail of the head. More complex than my usual posters.
When it opened in 1989, the Franklin Mills Mall was considered cutting edge. Rather than following the normal tasteless design of a covered mall, the 1.6 million square foot destination in Northeast Philadelphia was designed in a lightning bolt shape.
Its various sections were outlined by different shades, and the entrances adorned with sculptures in geometric stripes of color welcomed customers to its more than one hundred stores and two separate food courts. At the top of each entrance was a giant version of the mall’s logo: an arrangement of kites and keys in honor of the mall’s namesake, Benjamin Franklin.
The entire identity of the mall, from theme to design and signage, came from the mind of Milton Glaser, who quoted Franklin Mills in his official biography (albeit only in the longest version, which he called the edition of “endless length”).
If you visit today, you won’t see much of Glaser’s work.
Simon Properties, who also owns the King of Prussia Mall, announced a major renovation in 2014. The renovated center now officially goes through the Philadelphia Mills, although most people still use the old name.
Thirty years after he started working on it, the last of the kite and key entries was dismantled in 2016, but the textbooks still refer to Franklin Mills as one of the great examples of holistic design.
A book titled “The Integrated Manual for Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations” references Glaser’s efforts there:
Marrying text and image requires great care and can get precise meaning, as we see with the Franklin Mills logo and trademark. … The chart provides an index that points to Benjamin Franklin, who intelligently connects our elementary history and science lessons with the geography of the iconic mall.
Glaser’s first major contribution to the region was Sesame Place, the children’s educational playground located just north of the city’s border in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.
When the child-focused fate launched in 1980, it was directly owned by the Children’s Television Workshop, the New York-based nonprofit organization behind the long-running public television program.
Glaser was hired there for design work between 1981 and 1983, according to his website. During that time, he created the logo and also contributed to the park’s architectural design.
Now 14 acres instead of just three, and fully outfitted with multiple action games and water features, the attraction remains the only Sesame Street-themed amusement park in the U.S.