If you look carefully, you will notice that the buildings of the last 50 years that you see in Philly look quite unlike those elsewhere. They feel tense: they don’t smooth over the multiple and often conflicting aesthetic desires and functional needs that accompany building something. They draw on history, rather than a glass-and-steel-and-concrete aesthetic of the future— which is to say that Philadelphia lacks the purist sculptures of Europe and Boston and Chicago. And they 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.
Curated by Izzy Kornblatt and Jason Tangson.
Originally presented at the Philomathean Society at the University of Pennsylvania.
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