June 13, 2016 |
The architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown famously claimed there are two kinds of buildings in this world: ducks and decorated sheds. The duck conveys its function through its form, and the decorated shed uses ornament and signage to communicate its purpose. The Ott Camera building in Northeast Philadelphia's Oxford Circle neighborhood is both a duck and a decorated shed. Until the business closed in March, this diminutive Castor Avenue landmark was the home of a camera-supply store founded in 1948 by Joseph C. Ott, and operated for many years by his son, Robert.
May 18, 2016 |
Romaldo Giurgola, 95, who was a member of an influential group of Philadelphia architects who pushed back against Modernist orthodoxies and helped make the city a hotbed of innovative design thinking in the 1960s, died Sunday, May 15, in Canberra, Australia, where he had lived since 1982. Mr. Giurgola, who was fondly known by colleagues as "Aldo," was a Roman native who moved to Philadelphia in the late 1950s to teach architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He soon fell in with two other upstarts, Robert Venturi and Louis Kahn, who were also beginning to question Modernism's harsh, functionalist approach.
January 23, 2016 |
Now that the "Nutter Era" is officially past tense, and Jim Kenney is managing this obstreperous city, we'll be seeing a lot less of Michael Nutter, the person. Yet the architectural additions and deletions that occurred during his tenure will stay with us for a long time. What were its hallmarks? Sadly, this period yielded very little of the kind of architecture that ends up in the history books. That's partly because Nutter took office as the United States was slipping into the Great Recession and developers' best-laid plans were going awry.
December 5, 2015 |
This time, Denise Scott Brown's name is on the prize. After decades of being overlooked and even openly scorned by the architecture profession, Philadelphia's best-known female designer was singled out Wednesday by the American Institute of Architects as cowinner of its prestigious Gold Medal, together with her husband and partner, Robert Venturi. An author of the groundbreaking study Learning From Las Vegas , she is the first living woman to win the medal for career achievement since the AIA began handing out the prize in 1907.
March 14, 2014 |
Before his 2005 move to Charlottesville, Va., where he died Monday, Feb. 3, at age 90, University of Pennsylvania professor Thomas P. Hughes was a familiar presence in Chestnut Hill, bicycling to and from the early service at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, or buying crackers and cheese for the intimate gatherings of neighbors and Penn colleagues he hosted at his house on Millman Street. It wasn't just any house. Dr. Hughes' home was that icon of modern architecture known as "Mother's House," designed by Robert Venturi for his mother, Vanna.
August 26, 2013 |
Ben Franklin was a great and fearless tinkerer, but even he might have been reluctant to mess with the Old City architectural icon that honors his life and work. The deceptively modest Franklin Court complex was designed by world-famous Robert Venturi for the 1976 Bicentennial, and it changed the way we think about memorials. No wonder the decision by the National Park Service to alter the garden wall and gut the underground museum produced a flood of protest from architectural scholars.
April 3, 2013 |
Twenty-two years later, the omission still rankles Philadelphia architect Denise Scott Brown. She and her husband, Robert Venturi, designed their projects together. They wrote several paradigm-shifting books together. They taught their influential studio classes together. But when the winner of architecture's most prestigious prize was announced in 1991, it was only Venturi who was honored. Scott Brown, now 82, has never been one to be silent about her treatment by the Pritzker Architecture Prize jury, but her pointed remarks last month at a conference in London have touched a nerve as never before.
August 8, 2012 |
Steven C. Gatschet, 71, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Architects in the 1990s, died Wednesday, June 20, at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center of complications from pancreatic cancer. Since 1996, Mr. Gatschet had been a design architect for the School District of Philadelphia, his wife, Abbie Kinzler, said. And for the last 30 years, she said, he had been an adjunct professor of architecture at Drexel University. From 1965 to 1975, she said, he worked for several Philadelphia architectural firms, including that of Robert Venturi.
June 18, 2010 |
Philadelphia architects will have an outsize presence this year at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards, having taken the top prizes in both the architecture and landscape design categories. The museum, which announced the winners yesterday, said that KieranTimberlake architects and landscape architect James Corner will be honored in October at a New York ceremony featuring first lady Michelle Obama. For KieranTimberlake, which has been a pioneer of thoughtful environmental design, the Cooper-Hewitt award is the latest in a string of accolades and high-profile commissions.
January 17, 2010 |
They're not the sort of architects you go to when you want just another pretty building. They don't design walk-in sculptures that swirl like ocean waves. A plain skyscraper would bore them to tears. Instead, they dream of making buildings that can go up in weeks instead of months, that are manufactured rather than constructed, that penny-pinch on energy, and that can be tossed into the recycling bin when the world grows tired of them. Meet the Philadelphia Four, a group of rising design firms that see architecture as a weapon in the battle to stave off environmental ruin.