More innovative residential modern architecture in Philadelphia

Projects by Daryl Rothmund and Doug Culbert AIA



Wesley Architects
link to Wesley Architects website

The Spite House Northern Liberties



Similar to other "spite houses," the townhouse in Northern Liberties is built on a tiny, narrow and oddly shaped - almost unbuildable  vacant corner lot in the Northern Liberties (NoLib) section of Philadelphia. The NoLib Spite House doesn't quite follow the rules of its urban context, but rather seeks to recover them through a revelation of ordinary conditions. The house was influenced by the writings of Stanley Rosen especially The Elusiveness of the Ordinary, 2002.

The form of the building responds precisely - but not literally - to a series of specific conditions in the urban context, i.e. extending a street wall, establishing a corner and stepping to adjust to surrounding building heights. The primary architectural element of the building is a brick wall with windows and doors; but in contrast to the red brick front facades on the surrounding buildings, the brick of the Spite House is a smoke-stained dark gray color and the wall folds around the corners to wrap all three sides of the building.  Although the folded brick wall is not parallel to the sidewalk or the property lines, the two street walls of the corner are held (more or less) along the perimeter.

Like the surrounding buildings the Spite House has secondary elements that contrast with the brick wall. Unlike the painted wood and aluminum siding used on the secondary elements of the surrounding buildings, these elements are zinc.  Like those on the surrounding buildings these secondary elements act to provide a meaningful articulation with regard to the legibility of the urban context, e.g. marking an public corner and a private entrance.  Although at first glance the Spite House doesn't appear to be a ?good neighbor,? the bending of the brick wall along with the bumping of the secondary zinc elements provides a sense of belonging to a specific urban context. 

The interior of the house was developed around a vertical journey culminating on a roof deck with an upper-level green roof.  The journey begins on the sidewalk by crossing a stone threshold and stepping up onto a vestibule. The vestibule is positioned on the middle level of an interior topography. One steps down from the vestibule into a sunken living room or up into a raised dining room and kitchen.  From the vestibule one ascends the stairs on a vertical journey that passes through the bedroom levels and ends by breaking the roof with skylights, a roof deck and green roof.

The geometry of the exterior of the Spite House is resolved spatially on the interior in a manner that creates rooms of appropriate definition (with regard to shape and size) and specific outlook.  Rooms are seen as opportunities to occupy positions within the house in relation to the surrounding city. Each room is defined by the bending of the exterior wall and the bumping of the secondary elements. These exterior elements are inhabited on the interior as the narrative of the vertical journey unfolds and the intimacy gradient of dwelling is revealed.

Latimer Street House, 1993-1994 David Slovic Associates

"The house designed by the husband and wife principals of the firm for themselves and reflects their philosophy of architecture and urbanism. The  home attempts to bring the amenities of suburban living to an urban setting.
The site was previously occupied by three row houses demolished in the 1940's. It is unusually large for a single family house and has frontage on three streets.  The house is organized around a courtyard which divides the building into two sections. Interior spaces reflect the simplicity of industrial lofts, opening to the courtyard through a wall of glass and steel.
Every aspect of the exterior exaggerates its difference from its neighbors. The inward focus of the plan reduces the ned for exterior windows resulting in facades of large blank wall surfaces. Not only is the house different from the traditional row-house but is also abandons the post-modern interest in ornamentation in a style that combines elegant materials and details with stark industrial simplicity." This information is from th second edition of Philadelphia Architecture a guide to the city by the Foundation for Architecture in Philadelphia.

Old City 108 Condominiums
Architect  SHoP Architects  Sharples Holden Pasquarelli
Local Architect  Bower Lewis Thrower
developed by Jeff Brown and Greg Hill
photos of penthouse east


Residential portion of Bart Blatstein's devlopement in Northern Liberties



Overview of Philadelphia Area Mid-Century Modern Residential Architecture  (below on this page)   Photo overview   followed by brief written overview of Philadelphia mid-century architects  .

Time Line  of area modern homes from 1930's to today
 Mid-Century Modern Homes

Architects Who Designed Mid-Century Modern Homes in the Philadelphia Region    
 photographs of the regional homes designed by each architect are included
 Allan Berkowitz  Louis Kahn  George Nakashima
 Edward Bernstein  Vincent Kling  Richard Neutra
 Robert Bishop  Thaddeus Longstreth  Norman Rice
Frank Boyer  William Lescaze  Paul Rudolph
 Marcel Breuer  Joel Levinson  Galen Schlosser
 Armand Carroll  Thomas Mangan  Harry Sternfeld
 Albert Clauss  Irving Maitin  Irwin Stein
 Nathan Cronheim  George Mebus  Oscar Stonorov
 George Daub  Ehrman Mitchell  Frank Weise
 Kenneth Day  Newcomb Montgomery  Frank Lloyd Wright
Agoos/ Lovera LaVardera, Greg Re:Vision Architecture
Bloomfield and Associates M. G. Leach Rosenblum, Martin
Bower Lewis Thrower Metcalfe Architecture Stanev Potts
Culbert, Doug McDonald, Tim/Onion Flats Tarantino Studio
Erdy McHenry Moto Design Shop Verner, Steven
Interface Studio QB3 Webber, Brett
Jibe Design Michael Ryan Architects Wesley Wei Architects
Kieran Timberlake Rasmussen/Su Wesley Architects
Krieger & Associates
Wyant Architecture


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