Philadelphia School Exhibit

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© 2019: Philomathean Society | Created By:Abhinav Suri

Philadelphia School Exhibit

How Philadelphia Architects Formed a Movement Unified by Ideas, Reinvented Modernism, and Influenced the Entire World

Venturi Scott Brown, Episcopal Academy, Orchestra Hall proposal. Bower, Vance Hall

If you look carefully, you will notice that the buildings of the last 60 years that you see in Philly look quite unlike those elsewhere. They are tense: they don’t smooth over the multiple and often conflicting aesthetic desires and functional needs that accompany the building process. They draw on history, rather than a glass-and-steel-and-concrete aesthetic of the future — which is to say that we lack the purist sculptures of Europe and Boston and Chicago. Our postwar buildings don’t usually shout for attention: they reflect a sense of architecture as more or less modest — befitting function rather than showing it off, befitting a place rather than reinventing it. It is these buildings, and the group of formally unaffiliated architects who produced them, that we call the Philadelphia School.

The exhibit will be one of the first attempts to interpret the school as a bona fide movement reflecting a distinctive culture and set of ideas, rather than just a collection of architects united by affiliation with the university and physical proximity.

Regular hours for the exhibit has now ended. For information, pictures, and text, please contact
March 17 – April 17
Viewing hours: Monday-Friday, 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Friday 7:00-10:00pm. Sunday 3:00pm – 6:00pm. Later hours and weekends by appointment. Contact
The Art Gallery, Philo Halls, College Hall, 4th Floor, University of Pennsylvania
Presented by Izzy Kornblatt and Jason Tang
Reception: Friday March 17, 6:00pm
Please note that, unfortunately, College Hall is wheelchair accessible only to the third floor

Click here for a map of the Penn campus showing College Hall’s location.

Please enter College Hall through the front entrance (facing Van Pelt Library), and take the stairs or elevator to the third floor. Across from the elevator on the third floor is a door to the Philomathean Society staircase. Climb that staircase and then turn left, following the signs pointing to the exhibit.

Images courtesy of:
The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania by the gift of Robert Venturi & Denise Scott Brown.
Mitchell/Giurgola Collection, The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania.