Back to All Events

Master Class: Modern Problems – Myths and Reality in the Preservation of Modern Architecture

  • University of Pennsylvania, Harvey & Irwin Kroiz Gallery / The Architectural Archives 220 South 34th Street Philadelphia, PA, 19104 United States (map)
 Louis I. Kahn Collection, University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Photo by Mildred Schmertz.030.IV.A.490.8.1.

Louis I. Kahn Collection, University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Photo by Mildred Schmertz.030.IV.A.490.8.1.

Since the founding of Docomomo in 1988 in the Netherlands, the global design and preservation community has become increasingly preoccupied with addressing the often unique and pressing issues raised by the need to conserve and rehabilitate the vast corpus of mid-late 20th century architecture, landscapes and urbanism.  

The architecture of the Modern Movement offers many real and perceived challenges to preservation practice that continue to be debated and tested across the spectrum of our industry.  These challenges are timely as the concept of “modernization” increasingly gains currency among commercial, institutional and government building owners fueling an exponential increase in the volume of activity in this arena.  Organizations such as ICOMOS, DoCoMoMo and APT are awakening to this trend and have undertaken broader inquiries into addressing the questions that impact the fundamental philosophy of how to work with this large and diverse legacy. This in turn has produced new guidelines such as the ICOMOS Madrid Document on Approaches for the Conservation of 20th Century Architectural Heritage and the nascent APT Principles for Practice for Renewing Modernism that are meant to complement the existing established international charters, and to help us to better evaluate and devise appropriate treatment for these properties.

This year’s Master Class, organized by PennDesign’s Graduate Program in Historic Preservation will identify and evaluate some of the key challenges facing the preservation community in the preservation of modern architecture with the goal of proposing solutions or directions toward solutions for the real challenges, and helping to de-bunk or minimize other perceived failings.   It is hoped that the discussion will lead to further, more detailed investigation of some of the more persistent and complex challenges and how they interface with a general drive to increase the sustainability quota of many of these resources.

The class will kick off with a public lecture by David Fixler, FAIA, FAPT on Thursday evening followed by a day of discussion and in depth examination on the recent study and rehabilitation of Louis Kahn’s Richards Laboratories at Penn.  Participants will have the unique opportunity to examine the original drawings and associated documents with William Whitaker, Curator and Collections Manager, the Architectural Archives, and tour the facility with Fixler and Whitaker on Saturday morning. The tone will be conversational and informal. Thursday evening’s lecture is free and open to the public. 


Full Program of Events:

Thursday, April 12, 2018: Evening lecture
David N. Fixler, FAIA, FAPT, LEED AP
6:00 PM
Meyerson Hall B3
The University of Pennsylvania School of Design
210 South 34th St, Philadelphia PA 19104
The evening lecture does not require registration and is free and open to the public. 

Friday, April 13, 2018: Master class   (Click here to see the full schedule)
David N. Fixler, FAIA, FAPT, LEED AP
9:00 AM-4:30 PM
Harvey & Irwin Kroiz Gallery / The Architectural Archives
220 South 34th Street at Smith Walk
Lower Level of the Fisher Fine Arts Library building
Advance registration is required for the master class. Breakfast and lunch will be provided and are included with registration.

Saturday, April 14, 2018: Tour of Richards Laboratories at Penn
9:30 AM-12:00 PM.
3700 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Meet at Richards Laboratories at 9:30 AM. The tour should last approximately an hour and a half, after which the group will return to the Architectural Archives until about 12:00 PM.

 Note: The Saturday tour of the RIchards Laboratories is only open to those who
 attend the Friday master class.

There is no charge for undergraduate and graduate students to attend the master class, but registration is required. Non-Penn students will need to present a valid student ID at check-in. There is no charge for Penn faculty to attend, but registration is required.