Category: Chapter Programs

Architectural Authorship and Authority: Denise Scott Brown In 1967

Denise Scott Brown at Das Pathos das Funktionalismus (“The Pathos of Functionalism”), Berlin, 1974. Photograph IDZ Berlin/Christian Ahlers; Courtesy of Venturi Scott Brown Collection, The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania.

Architectural Authorship and Authority: Denise Scott Brown In 1967
by Denise Costanzo, Associate Professor of Architecture,
The Pennsylvania State University
Friday, March 15, 2024, at 5:30 p.m.
The Architectural Archives
Stuart Weitzman School of Design
University of Pennsylvania
220 South 34th Street at Smith Walk
(Lower Level of the Fisher Fine Arts Library building)
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Reservations requested at

The ongoing controversy over Denise Scott Brown’s exclusion from the individual Pritzker Prize awarded to Robert Venturi in 1991 hinges on issues of authorship, attribution, and equity in architectural partnerships, and in the wider profession. The Pritzker jury highlighted Venturi’s early, more seemingly independent work, including his sole-authored Complexity and Contradiction of 1966. Scott Brown, however, worked on her own ambitious book project during these same years, one whose different fate prefigured her distinct trajectory. Contextualizing Scott Brown’s decisions about the function of ambitious writing at a pivotal juncture humanize the complexities that followed.

Denise Costanzo is Associate Professor of Architecture at the Pennsylvania State University. She is co-editor (with Andrew Leach) of Italian Imprints on Twentieth Century Architecture (Bloomsbury, 2022) and author of What Architecture Means: Connecting Ideas and Design (Routledge 2015). Her essays on Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi have appeared in journals and books that including The Routledge Companion Guide to Fascist Italian Architecture: Reception and Legacy (Routledge, 2020); and Denise Scott Brown: In Others’ Eyes (Birkhaüser, 2022). Her current book project is Modern Architects and the Problem of the Postwar Rome Prize: France, Spain, America and Britain (University of Virginia Press).

2023 Phila Chapter SAH Annual Members Meeting and Talk

by Veronica E. Aplenc, PhD, Author of Imagining Slovene Socialist Modernity: The Urban Redesign of Ljubljana’s Beloved Trnovo Neighborhood, 1951-1989
Thursday, May 11, 2023, from 6:30 to approx. 8:00 PM
The Architectural Archives, Stuart Weitzman School of Design
University of Pennsylvania
220 South 34th Street at Smith Walk (Lower Level of the Fisher Fine Arts Library building)
Philadelphia, PA 19104
This is a member’s only program.  
Reservations are requested at

Please join us for our Annual Meeting on Thursday, May 11th, in the Architectural Archives, Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania. We will have a brief business meeting followed by the talk.

Internationally acclaimed interwar architect Jože Plečnik occupied a complex position, one both marginalized but foundational, during Yugoslav state socialism. As socialist-era architects and preservationists addressed Plečnik’s architectural works, their local professional beliefs which operated within much broader political contexts drove their actions, versus a simple politics of culture. Following training under Otto Wagner in Vienna, architect Jože Plečnik received praise for his interwar designs in Vienna, Prague, and hometown of Ljubljana, then Yugoslavia. After the WWII and Yugoslavia’s transformation into a socialist state, Plečnik’s architectural oeuvre was redefined in Ljubljana from “modern” to “classical” as the architectural profession reinterpreted itself for the new era. As Ljubljana strove to transform physically into a socialist city, Plečnik’s architectural works were also caught between urban development and preservation trends. This was particularly visible in the Trnovo neighborhood, the site of Plečnik’s residence, his interwar architectural works, and a socialist high-rise development. Through unexpected forces, Plečnik’s works went from overshadowed in the 1960s to preserved by the late 1980s, in an echoing of the architect’s ambivalent position under socialism.

Veronica E. Aplenc received her M.S. in historic preservation and Ph.D. in folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania She is currently President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians. Her research interests include the everyday built environment, historic preservation, and the intersection of the traditional with the socialist modern. Her work on the everyday built environment in socialist Yugoslavia has been supported by IREX and Fulbright grants. In addition to her scholarship, she has collaborated on international research teams, participated in international teaching exchanges, and serves as a preservation and planning consultant.

The Architectural Archives are located in Frank Furness’s Fisher Fine Arts Library, on 34th Street just south of Walnut Street. They are easily accessed by SEPTA (bus routes 21 and 42; 33rd Street trolley stop; and 34th Street subway stop). Parking is available in lots, including on the NE corner 34th & Chestnut Streets (enter from 34th Street) and in garages, including on the NE corner of 38th and Walnut Street (enter from Chestnut Street). On street parking is available, but may be limited.

The exhibit “Minerva Parker Nichols: The Search for a Forgotten Architect” is currently on view at the Archives.  Feel free to have a preview before our meeting begins.  The Chapter has scheduled a tour of the exhibit on Monday, June 5th.  Sign up details for that program will be sent out shortly.

Also save the date for an Architectural Walking Tour of Chambersburg, PA, on Saturday, August 12 with architectural historian and part-time Chambersburg resident Jay Shockley.  Details for this program will be sent out this summer.

Please send questions to



presented by Philadelphia Chapter Society of Architectural Historians & Temple School of Architecture

by R. Scott Gill, PhD, Assoc AIA, and co-author of Gideon Shryock, His Life and Architecture 1802-1880
Thursday, April 13 at 6:30 PM
Tyler Architecture Building
2001 N 13th Street, Room 104
Free and open to all.

Gideon Shryock, Kentucky’s first formally trained architect, brought the international style of the Greek Revival to Kentucky, and in the process imparted a template of architectural and professional dignity for others to follow. Born in Lexington in 1802, Shryock learned the building trade working with his father, a skilled carpenter and builder. At the age of twenty, he traveled to Philadelphia to apprentice under the country’s great architectural master, William Strickland. There, Shryock absorbed the skills, rules, and resources of his chosen profession, and made valuable friends among his talented cohort of apprentices. Upon returning home, he won the coveted prize to design and build a new statehouse in Frankfort. It was an extraordinary accomplishment that launched the young architect toward a remarkable future.

While Shryock is most known for his monumental Greek Revival buildings in Frankfort, Lexington, and Louisville, his body of work was quite varied and included numerous houses, churches, commercial buildings, and even a patented “steam-boiler furnace.” He pursued competitions, including for the Washington Monument and Tennessee State Capitol. In his twilight years, he was honored as the first president of the newly created Kentucky Association of Architects.

In this talk Gill will draw from his recently published book, Gideon Shryock: His Life and Architecture, 1802-1880, to show how Shryock influenced and was influenced by his great peers as he helped evolve the American Greek Revival into a mature style.

Scott Gill is the award-winning co-author of three books on Kentucky architecture and an adjunct lecturer in architectural history at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a former board member of the Society of Architectural Historians and currently sits on the board of the Texas Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art. Gill holds a PhD in architectural history from UT-Austin, an MBA from MIT, a Master of Architecture from Rice, and a bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford. A past resident of Louisville, he currently practices real estate in Austin.

Why Memorials Are Strange: A Book Chat About The Everyday Life of Memorials

with Andy Shanken and Michael J. Lewis
Thursday, March 23, 2023 at 7:00 PM on Zoom
Free – Registration required at

Memorials are commonly studied as part of the commemorative infrastructure of modern society. Just as often, they are understood as sites of political contestation, where people battle over the meaning of events. But most of the time, they are neither. Instead, they take their rest as ordinary objects, part of the street furniture of urban life. Most memorials are ‘turned on’ only on special days, such as Memorial Day, or at heated moments, as in August 2017, when the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville was overtaken by a political maelstrom. The rest of the time they are turned off. This book is about the everyday life of memorials. It explores their relationship to the pulses of daily life, their meaning within this quotidian context, and their place within the development of modern cities.

Andrew Shanken is Professor of Architectural History and the Director of American Studies at U.C. Berkeley. He publishes on the topic of architecture and memory, the history of preservation, keywords in architecture, and the visual culture of architecture and planning. His book, 194X: Architecture, Planning, and Consumer Culture on the American Homefront (2009), examines anticipatory architecture on the American homefront. A second book, Into the Void Pacific (2015), is an architectural history of the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair. His new book, The Everyday Life of Memorials (Zone Books, 2022), explores the meaning of memorials in daily life and their place within the development of modern cities.

Michael J. Lewis id the Faison-Pierson-Stoddard Professor of Art History at Williams Collegewhere heteaches modern architecture and American art.  He is also the architecture critic for the Wall Street Journal. After receiving his B.A. from Haverford College in 1980, and two years at the University of Hannover Germany, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1989. He has taught at Bryn Mawr College; McGill University, Montreal; and the University of Natal, South Africa. His books include Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind (2001), American Art and Architecture (2006), and the prize-winning August Reichensperger: The Politics of the German Gothic Revival (1993). He was a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton (2000-2001) and in 2008 received a Guggenheim Fellowship to support the completion of City of Refuge (2016), his study of millennial Utopias. Lewis has been at Williams College since 1993 and in 2008 he was named Faison-Pierson-Stoddard Professor of Art.

Book link:

Registration for this exciting event is free. Please consider donating to SAH Philadephia or joining the chapter for $25 per year. Your support helps to underwrite future events.

For any questions or concerns regarding registration, please contact



by Alfred Willis, PhD, independent architectural historian, retired Professor of Architecture
Thursday, December 1 at, 7:00 p.m. online via Zoom
Free, but registration required.  Email David Breiner <> no later than 8:00 PM on Nov 30 to receive the Zoom link.

A Kentucky native and 1931 architecture graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Joe Bright set up an independent practice in 1949 in his wife’s hometown of Valdosta, Georgia, in 1949.  His fledgling firm distinguished itself as the producer of many of the most notable of the town’s first Modernist buildings.  Alongside them Bright also designed a number of dramatic houses in which he combined Colonial Revival stylistic effects with Modern principles of composition.  Tracing his career provides a chance to explore how a mid-20th-century architect could negotiate the tension between tradition and innovation to produce a coherent body of work whose qualities have become all the more apparent in a retrospect informed by the Postmodernism of the Philadelphia School.


Tuesday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m.
Online via Zoom
Free, but in order to receive a private link to the Zoom presentation registration is required with

Chambersburg, PA, was the only Northern town burned down by the Confederate Army, in 1864. This included the Franklin County Courthouse of 1841-43. Even though the reconstruction of this building following the war is central to the town’s history, it was never known who was responsible for it. During the pandemic, one of the lecturers discovered that the beautiful column capitals on the courthouse are terra cotta. Prior research by both lecturers on the central role of Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan in the promotion of American terra cotta in the 1850s led to the further discovery that Sloan and his partner Addison Hutton were the architects of the 1865- 66 courthouse.

Jay Shockley, an architectural historian and preservationist, was employed by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission between 1979 and 2015. As the senior historian in the Research Department, he researched and wrote more than 100 reports covering all aspects of the city’s architectural and social cultural history. Currently he is a Co-Director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

Susan Tunick, a New Yorker, is a ceramic artist, historian, and preservationist. She combines her interest in making ceramics with her concern about preserving historic architectural ceramic surfaces. As president of the Friends of Terra Cotta, she is active in research and advocacy, working to protect terra cotta and tile.

A PINE STREET WALK WITH DOCS (or ‘an x-ray time-machine super adventure’)

with Jeff Cohen, Professor, Growth and Structure of Cities. Bryn Mawr College
Tuesday 7 June, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

1100-18 Pine Street, with July 1850 survey made for Israel Van Horn (FFI 93: 11936, HSP)

The tour is free, but space is limited.
Advance registration is required by June 6 at
Tour starting point will be provided when your registration is confirmed.
Priority will be given to Phila Chapter SAH members, but if space is available non-members are welcome to request a spot.

Join us in a casual spring evening stroll along and near Pine Street, between 9th and 20th Street, with its great run of surviving rowhouses from the latter 2/3 of the 19th century. We’ll set the stage for a mobile conversation by bringing along period plans of and info on several of the buildings we’ll encounter – many as reflections of evolving design practices of speculative developers, along with a few houses that have been individualized by familiar architects.


This event will be held virtually via Zoom.
Friday, March 11 2022, 6:30 PM — 8:30 PM

What’s the oldest highway bridge in the United States? What well-known Philadelphia architect is interred in the Tennessee state capitol building? If you know the answers, and even if you don’t, join us for our second Architectural Quizzo! Sign up individually, or better yet with friends, to test your knowledge of work by Philadelphia architects in other places, surrounding counties, and Philadelphia folklore.

You’ll work in teams to answer five exciting rounds of questions – with prizes for the winning team! (NOTE: you do not have to form a team, in order to make this a truly social event and introduce you to potential new friends you will be assigned to a team after you register.)

Free for members (plus 1 guest) of the Philadelphia Chapter SAH, or the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, and of the Young Friends of the Preservation Alliance.
$5 for non-members.

Registration requested by March 4 at

Co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians and the Young Friends of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.


by George Dodds, PhD
Alvin and Sally Beaman Professor of Architecture
University of Tennessee, School of Architecture
Wednesday, September 14 at 7:00 PM (rescheduled from Dec. 2, 2021)
Online via Zoom
Free, but in order to receive a private link to the Zoom presentation registration is required with

Join us for another in our series of talks on “The Elusive Philadelphia School – The Many Guises of Philadelphia Modernism”

Architectural history is a fickle thing. Until the publication of the new edition of Kenneth Frampton’s, Modern Architecture: A Critical History, Carlo Scarpa’s work occupied an important place in the book’s conclusion, offered as a paradigm of “critical regionalism.” In the new edition, published last year, Scarpa’s work is all but relegated to a footnote. The work of the Philadelphia-based architects Alfred and Jane West Clauss has been visited a similar fate, albeit over a much longer trajectory. Absent from virtually every major overview of Modern Architecture, one finds fragmentary references to Alfred alone in two monographs on William Lescaze, and Mark Lamster’s, The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century. Even in Mies van der Rohe’s own payroll accounts from his Berlin office, used while designing The German Representation Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, and the Tugendhat House, an “Alfred Claus” appears, but absent the second “s.” And while many of the most provocative claims about Alfred Clauss’s role in watershed moments of 20th-century modern architecture are almost invariably traced back to Alfred himself, there is still this. Over the course of his career, he worked with Mies van der Rohe while the Barcelona Pavilion was being designed, with Howe & Lescaze on arguably the most important tall building in the United States before WWII, with Philip Johnson on Johnson’s apartment designed by Mies and Lilly Reich, and the design of the perhaps the most important exhibition of the 20th century, MoMA’s 1932, Modern Architecture: An International Exhibition, while also included in the exhibition. And all of this was before he and Jane West Clauss designed the first enclave of modern houses in the United States on an isolated knoll in an obscure corner of Knox County, Tennessee. And yet, there is more.

George Dodds earned his professional architectural degree at the University of Detroit and his Master of Architecture, and a PhD in architectural history and theory from the University of Pennsylvania. Dodds has published two books: Building Desire: On the Barcelona Pavilion (Routledge, 2005) and Body and Building: Essays on the Changing Relation of Body and Architecture (MIT Press, 2002) co-edited with Robert Tavernor. He has authored over fifty articles, papers, and public lectures spanning the work Mies van der Rohe, Richard Neutra, Carlo Scarpa, Gabriel Guevrekian, William Lescaze, and current practitioners such as KieranTimberlake, and Duvall Decker Architects (recently on the Common Edge website). He is currently working on a feature for Architectural Record on the recently completed conservation of the Brion Tomb and Sanctuary while continuing his research into the work of Alfred and Jane West Clauss.

Topic: PC_SAH_George Dodds talk
Time: Dec 2, 2021 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Philadelphia Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians
and the Athenaeum of Philadelphia present
by Sandy Isenstadt, Professor and Chair, History of Modern Architecture, University of Delaware and author of Electric Light: An Architectural History (MIT Press 2018)
Wednesday, October 27 at 6:00 p.m.

This will be an in-person event at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, 219 S. 6th Street.

Free for Phila SAH members & Athenaeum members, $10 all others
Preregistration required at

Electric light was more than just a novel way of brightening a room or illuminating a streetscape when it was introduced in the late-nineteenth century. It was a new and uniquely modern kind of building material, generating new sorts of spaces that altered and sometimes eclipsed previously existing spaces. This talk will review several such spaces—from automobile headlights to factory lighting to wartime mandated blackouts—in order to construct an architectural modernism centered on the new perceptual conditions and visual habits that followed widespread electrification.