Rice Norman N. (1903-1985), architect



Born in Philadelphia/ educated at U. Penn (1924) where he studied with Paul Cret / first American to work in the atelier of Le Corbusier (1928-29) and, upon his return to Philadelphia, contributed to the design of the P.S.F.S. building by Howe & Lecaze / independent practice from ca. 1932 on/ was classmate colleague and longtime friend of Louis Kahn/ best known for his public commisions for the city of Philadelphia and Temple Beth Hillel in Wynnewood.

One of Norman Rice's public commissions was the renovation of Fitler Square Park completed in September of 1954.  Rice explained that "an architect, who has a feeling for bricks, mortar and wood, has the same feeling about space and planting, although he may not have the knowledge of plant names."   Rice's design allowed for the park to be green in all seasons through the use of ivy as groundcover and by using two species of evergreen holly.  Fitler Square was located across the Street from Norman Rice's office at 2400 Pine Street.

Below are photos of Norman Rice's office/studio (single story portion) and home above the garages. Rice was quoted as saying cars make better neighbors than people.


Evelyn Keyser House 1947

Swarthmore Pa 1950

James Oser Residence  1955
The original home was a rectangle with a gable off center providing high ceiling public rooms. The north side screen porch and deck were removed for a recent bedroom wing.


home built by Alma Morani from a design by Norman Rice.  Montgomery & Bishop added and a laundry, dinning room and greenhouse addition in 1966.   I went to look at this home in 1993 when it was last for sale, it was the first time I had been in this style home, although it was not the home I ended up purchasing, I have loved mid-century homes since that day!  

Dr. and Mrs. Jacoby T. Rothner Residence -1952
School House Lane, Philadelphia, PA
This home is currently undergoing a complete restoration, new photos soon to come.   
   Dr. Rothner was a practicing Dentist and professor of Dentistry at Temple University at the time that the house was commissioned and built.
   It is a single story masonry structure and has  a 1970's garage addition to the original edifice.The dining room, living room, office and master bedroom have continuous ribbon windows allowing an unobstructed view of the backyard and Wissahickon Valley beyond. The largest single window in the continuous run is 10'w x 6'h.
   The materials used in the interior and exterior of the house were newly developed in 1950's.  They include metal Geneva kitchen cabinets, plastic laminate kitchen counters, plasterboard ceiling and walls, parged and scored cinderblock exterior masonry, double hung aluminum framed windows, double paned aluminum framed windows and glass block.
The home has had four owners.  With the exception of the vinyl asbestos tile, which was abated by the current owners and replaced with a monolithic slate floor, all of the original interior and exterior materials remain intact

before recent renovation

Rothner Residence after 2009 Renovation

Norman Rice Northern Montgomery County smaller home built with 2 bedrooms and adjacent to the Wissahickon Creek on a hillside


rice ca. 1965

B&W photo is the original rear of this home

The architect of the house is Noman Nathaniel Rice.  Timeline of his life:

1903 ? Born March 17

1920 ? Graduates from Central High School with classmate Louis Kahn

1920-1924 Attends University of Pennsylvania to study architecture with Classmate Louis Kahn.  Paul Cret is the head of the Architure Deparment at Penn.

1924 Graduates U of Penn with a B. Arch.

1924-1928 works as a draftsman and designer for Paul Cret, John Molito , Zantsinger, Borie and Madary.

1926 ? works on Sesquicentennial exhibition with Louis Kahn.  Becomes disillusioned with City corruption and decided to travel through Europe.

1928 Travels widely in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Compiles sketchbook of his travels.

1929  Becomes the first American to work in LeCorbusier?s and Pierre Jeanenret?s office. 

1929  Louis Kahn visits Norman Rice in Paris

1929  While in Paris, teams up with work collegues Ernest Weissmann and Kunio Maekawain enter a competition for the design of a public office building in Zagreb, Croatia

1930 Writes ?the minimal House ? a Solution Record

1931 Returns to Philadelphia joins firm of Howe and Lescaze

1931 Works on design of PSFS Building, an international style skyscraper

1931 Writes article for Architectural Forum ?Small House Construction, A problem to be Solved?

1932 Establishes independent practice in Philadelphia, at 2400 Pine Street, practice continues until 1974

1932 Writes article for TSquare critiquing Frank Lloyd Wright?s Taliesen.

1932 Frank Lloyd Wright sends letter to Norman Rice crititquing the international style and responding to Norman Rice?s critique of Taliesen.

1932 Designs Apartment Building in Philadlephia, PA published in Architectural Forum

1932 Designs Stadium Night Club, Hotel Roosevelt,  Madison Avenue at 45th Street, New York, NY

1942 Designs Ormsteen Residence, alterations, 2007 Delancey Street, Philadelphia, PA

1945 Joins National Chapter of the American Institute of Architects

1947 Designs home for sculptor Evelyn Keyser, Philadephia, PA

1948-1951 Designs and Builds Residence of Dr. and Mrs. Jacoby T. Rothner Residence, 3421 W. School House Lane

1950?s Teaches at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art (now, University of the Arts)

1951 Designs War Memorial for Central High School, 1700 West Olney Avenue, Philadelphia

1952  Published in Architectural Record?s Hardcover Book?82 Distinctive Houses From 1952 ?.

1952-1972 Documented and drafted City Hall drawings and Plans

1956 Works on preservation of the Haviland Stickland Buildings, Broad and Pine Streets, Philadelphia, PA

1953-55, 1962- 63 Director of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects

1954  Redesigns Fitler Square, Philadelphia PA

1955 Design Jame Oser Residence Timber Lane, Philadlephia, PA

1958 Designs Whitehall Commons Playground, Tulip, Ditman and Wakeling Street, Philadelphia, PA

1958-59 Vice President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects

1960-61 President of  the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects

1961 Designs Monument to Washington Crossing, Washington Crossing, PA

1962-67 Designs and Builds Temple Beth Hillel, 1001 Remington Road, Wynnewood, PA

1964 Made a Fellow of the National Chapter of the American Institute of Architects

1964 Designs Free Library at Broad and Morris Streets

1964-66 President of the Pennsylvania Society  of Architects

1966-? Chaired The Pennsylvania Society of Architect?s commission on design

1966 Designs Grover Cleveland Elementary School additions and Alterations, 3701 North 19th Street, Philadelphia, PA

1969 Designs Rostrum in Rittenhouse Square

1971-80 Appointed to Pennsylvania State Art Commission

1963 -1974 Teaches at University of Pennsylvania with Louis Kahn and Robert LeRoclais

1972 Writes retrospective on his experiences at the University of Pennsylvanian

1974 Designs District Health Center #10, 2230 Cottman Avenue at Bustleton Avenuue , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1984 T-Square Club Fellowship established at the University of Pennsylvania, provides fellowship to second-year architecture student on the basis of need and merit. Among the patrons and members of the T-Square Club atelier were Penn professors Paul Philippe Cret, Walter P. Laird, John Harbeson, Jean Hebrand, and Norman Rice.

1985 Interviewed for Book LeCorbusier in America

1985 died Dec. 21


Postumus information

1986 Estate donates collection of works from 1920 to 1974 to the University of Pennsylvania

1997- Temple Beth Hillel is named on the List of Philadelphia?s Modern Monuments, by The Philadelphia Architect

2009 ? 2 original drawings of 3421 West School House Lane donated to the Athenaem of Pennsylvania





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

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