S. Neil Schlosser, 67, an architect

S. Neil Schlosser
S. Neil Schlosser
Posted: May 26, 2011

S. Neil Schlosser, 67, of Center City, an urban architect, died Friday, May 13, at the Watermark at Logan Square after complications of brain-aneurysm surgery.

As a teenager, Mr. Schlosser worked in Louis Kahn's architectural offices in Philadelphia. His father, Galen, was an architect with the firm who helped oversee construction of one of Kahn's signature buildings, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.

Mr. Schlosser earned his bachelor's degree and a master's degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. He studied at the Middle Eastern Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, on a Fulbright fellowship.

In 1969, he established Schlosser & Rivera with Luis Vincent Rivera. They joined Karl Krumholz in 1975 to form SRK Architects in Philadelphia. The men met at Louis Kahn's firm.

SRK commissions include a low-income housing complex in Norris Square in North Philadelphia; the De Burgos School in Philadelphia; the student recreation field house at Temple University; and Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, which recently received LEED platinum-level certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Kensington High and several other schools were joint projects with SMP Architects.

Two of SRK's renovation projects - Alden Park Manor, an apartment building in Germantown; and Episcopal Church House in Center City, which was converted to law offices - won historic-preservation awards from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

As Kahn proteges, Mr. Schlosser and his partners were dedicated to the revitalization of communities, preservation of historic buildings, and development of sustainable design in architecture, Rivera said.

"Neil loved working with his hands," Rivera said. Mr. Schlosser rehabbed and restored the SRK building, which was built by abolitionist Quakers in 1832 on Spring Street.

Mr. Schlosser and his former wife, Judy Wicks, opened the White Dog Cafe on the 3400 block of Sansom Street in 1983, after they and neighbors won a fight with the University of Pennsylvania to save buildings on the street. He converted what started out as a muffin-and-coffee shop into a restaurant, eventually expanding to the brownstone next door.

He designed a glass-covered, plant-filled atrium in the alley between the two buildings, and created an extensive vegetable-and-flower garden on a rooftop deck, said his daughter, Grace Wicks Schlosser. She owns Grace Gardens, an urban-landscaping firm.

Mr. Schlosser married Wicks in 1978, and they had two children. They met when he was renovating La Terrasse restaurant, which she was managing. They divorced in the early 1990s. He later married Helen Laupheimer, with whom he had three sons.

He was passionate about architecture and Philadelphia, his daughter said. In the 1980s, Mr. Schlosser was active with a group opposing plans for a new convention center, Businesspeople Against the Reading Center. He told The Inquirer in 1983 that the proposed center, "large enough to hold 21/2 football fields of 40 trucks parked end to end," needed to be scaled back.

"This thing is a monster," he said. "It's an outrageous imposition of something this big on the delicate fabric of William Penn's town."

Mr. Schlosser, whose office was near the proposed center, wrote in an Inquirer commentary article in 1984: "Philadelphia cannot afford to create another 'redevelopment' desert in the heart of the city for an unfinanced ephemeral 'rainbow' scheme."

The Convention Center opened in 1993 on the site of the former Reading Railroad Terminal.

In addition to his daughter and wife, Mr. Schlosser is survived by sons Lawrence, Will, Galen, and Sam; his stepmother, Esther Schlosser; a sister, Carol Scully; and his former wife.

A memorial service and retrospective of Mr. Schlosser's work will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, his birthday, at SRK Architects, 1225 Spring St., Philadelphia.

Donations may be made to the Penn Memory Center, 3615 Chestnut St., First Floor, Philadelphia 19104, or to www.pennadc.org.


Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913

or sdowney@phillynews.com.

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