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Restoration of Vincent Kling’s Smith House wins national modernism award

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The midcentury modern was recognized for its recent restoration

The Smith (now Saul) House in Gladwyne was designed by Vincent Kling and has just won a Modernism in America award.
Photos by Jeffrey Totaro for Kevin Yoder Design

One of the few residential works by the late Philly architect Vincent Kling was just awarded a Modernism in America Award by Docomomo, the American chapter of the international nonprofit committed to protecting and conserving modern architecture worldwide.

The Smith House, located in Gladwyne and designed by Vincent Kling in 1959, received a Citation of Merit award in recognition of its recent restoration that involved a large team of local designers, preservationists, and architects. The jury writes:

The project highlights an important and lesser-known dimension to Kling’s professional career. The project is sensitively realized and its inclusion in a well-needed future monograph dealing with Kling’s work underscores the importance of this house in discussions of midcentury modernism and domestic space in Pennsylvania.”

Kling, in fact, was more known for his commercial projects and work with city planner Edmund Bacon in the 1960s (Kling designed the Penn Center and the Municipal Services Building, among other notable Center City buildings) than his residential work.

The current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Bentley Saul, bought the iconic home a few years ago. At the time, the midcentury modern home was in great disrepair and being marketed as a teardown, despite its architectural significance.

With the help of Kling’s original architectural drawings, architect Kevin Yoder led a top-to-bottom restoration of both the exterior and interior of the 3,585-square-foot home. He paid particular attention to Kling’s use of materials, which include a mix of stone and wood, working with a team that included Hanson General Contracting, Matt Nichols Masonry, Larsen & Landis, and Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates.

This isn’t the first midcentury modern masterpiece that Yoder has helped restore in the Philadelphia region. Just last year, his restoration of Louis Kahn’s Margaret Esherick House in Chestnut Hill also won both a Preservation Achievement Award from the Preservation Alliance and a national modernism award from Docomomo.

Take a tour of the renovated property below.