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News February 2011

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Two Modern Buildings placed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places

February 14, 2011

The Philadelphia area is rich in modern architectural gems and local efforts to preserve these structures are on the rise. In November 2010, the Philadelphia Historical Commission placed two Modern buildings on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places.

One of the two is the United Way Building in the city’s Museum District. The nomination, which was written by the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, noted that the “building contains elements of design, detail, materials and craftsmanship which represent a significant innovation.” Designed in 1969 by the firm of Mitchell/Giurgola and Associates, the building is true to its original design with the exception of the bare concrete façade, which was painted in 1995.

The other structure listed is a single-story residence custom built in 1950 by Norman Rice, a colleague of Louis Kahn and collaborator on the 1932 PSFS Building. Originally known as the Dr. and Mrs. Jacoby T. Rothner Residence, the home was nominated by its current owners. “Mid-century architecture is often unappreciated and in danger of insensitive renovation or demolition,” said Janet Grace, co-owner of the property since 2009. “If you can and you care, I believe you have an obligation to preserve,” she remarked. The owners have restored the exterior and retained the materials of the interior, except for the vinyl asbestos floor tile, which was abated and replaced with black slate.

United Way Building, Mitchell/Giurgola and Associates, 1969
Rothner Residence, Norman Rice, 1950