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A beginner’s guide to Philly modernism

The architects and structures that shaped Philadelphia—and the fate of their legacy

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Following in Frank’s footsteps

How a Philly couple discovered the modern architect Frank Weise through his plans

The pioneers of Philadelphia’s modernism movement

From architects to city planners, this group of seven paved the way for a modern Philly.

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Philly’s 11 most iconic modern buildings

With the help of Docomomo PHL, here's a starting list of the most iconic modern buildings in the city, from the PSFS building to the Moore College of Art & Design.

‘We pinch ourselves that we get to live here’

Paul Savidge and Dan Macey understand the monumentality of living in Louis Kahn’s Esherick House.

“Modernism” is not a term that immediately leaps to mind when considering Philadelphia.

Yet from the PSFS building—the nation’s first International Style skyscraper—to environment-altering developments like Penn Center to the pedigreed suburban homes by iconic architect Louis Kahn, the movement has shaped the very fabric of the city. But some of the history of modernism’s impact on the way Philadelphians live today is being forgotten.

Modernism strengthened—and at times, divided—the city in its 40-year heyday, and the debate around preserving its legacy is ongoing: Is it worth saving and even restoring controversial structures like the Roundhouse, or the details in a home by lesser-known modern architect Frank Weise? How Philadelphia reconciles the original aim of modern projects with current needs and new technologies will set a course for the next city-shaping movement.

Consider this your primer to one of Philadelphia’s most iconic architectural periods.

—Anna Merriman