“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.