A Louis Kahn Classic Renovated

 

Interior of Richards Medical Research Labs | Photo: Halkin Mason Photography

Interior of Richards Medical Research Labs | Photo: Halkin Mason Photography

  • Inga Saffron considers the University of Pennsylvania’s recent $13.4 million renovation of Towers C and D of Louis Kahn’s transformative Richards Medical Research Laboratory built in 1962. Lauded at the time by New York’s Museum of Modern Art as “the most consequential building constructed in the United States” from World War II until then, this National Historic Landmark has for a half-century maintained two parallel reputations: a marvel to the students of architecture the world over, and a well-lit misfortune to its scientists. “The renovation has pared Kahn’s spaces down to their essence, restoring a Zenlike calm, and revealing the muscular concrete structure that made the design such a revelation in the early 1960s,” says Saffron. Appropriate courtesy was also paid to Kahn’s Vierendeel trusses, here so central to his expansive design philosophy. The towers of Labs A and B will receive similar treatment during the 2018-19 fiscal year.
  • At Chinatown’s Space 1026 artist space on Arch Street, the Philadelphia Public History Truck’s Erin Bernard and Bree Lodgson are previewing their efforts in telling the surrounding neighborhood’s stories. Interactive prototypes, including comics and memory maps are on view. Member and artist Tuesday Kay tells NewsWorks that the show will also serves as an introduction to the gallery and studio space—one of the city’s oldest artist collectives—to more of its neighbors. 
About the author

Stephen Currall recently received his BA in history from Arcadia University. Before beginning doctoral studies, he is pursuing his interest in local history, specifically just how Philadelphians engage their vibrant past. Besides skimming through 18th century letters, Steve is also interested in music and travel.

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