Weitzman School of Design

The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design prepares students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, we are committed to advancing the public good–both locally and globally–through art, design, planning, and preservation. 

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 80
  • Publication
    Revisiting a Past Treatment of the Painted Interior of San José de Tumacácori
    (2021-01-01) Goldstein, Gabrielle
    This thesis analyzes the 1949 treatment of the painted plaster using polyvinyl acetate (PVAC), in the interior at the Mission Church of San José de Tumacácori. The treatment was proposed by Rutherford Gettens of the Fogg Museum and executed by Charlie Steen of the National Park Service. The PVAC was sprayed over the entire interior in order to consolidate the painted surface. The PVAC used was specifically Vinylite A, which was produced by Union Carbide. Since 2014, the Center for Architectural Conservation has been performing stabilization treatments to the interior plaster; however, the PVAC treatment has never been closely examined. The ramifications of the PVAC treatment were assessed using a combination of analytical and experimental methods. The painted decoration, which was intended to be matte in luster, now has a gloss; thus it is evident that there were ramifications of the treatment. Further analysis examines how the treatment effected the physical properties of the scratch coat, plaster, and pigment. Findings from this thesis can guide the National Park Service on future in-situ assessments of the Church plasters.
  • Publication
    Plights of a Pandemic: The Disconnect Between Migration, Policy, and Practice in Kuwait
    (2021-05-01) Jafar, Nour
    Labor laws within the State of Kuwait are in need of reform. The country’s labor and residency policies create legal loopholes for exploitation, abuse, and human trafficking. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened living conditions for low-income migrant communities, exacerbating these and related problems. Lockdowns forced migrants to stay at home for long periods of time with no income, food shortages, constant threats of eviction from landlords, and higher infection rates. This research uses semi-structured interviews and policy analysis to trace how labor and residency policies within Kuwait impact migrant communities, particularly in the context of the pandemic. Interviews are conducted with experts from different governmental agencies, while policy examination highlights what discrepancies exist. What effects have policies and governance in Kuwait had on human rights relating to workforce development within migrant communities during the covid 19 pandemic? How does the kafala system function to provide basic social services to migrant workers? How do Kuwait’s policies influence the actions of labor brokers? How do labor policies function between the private and public sector? What social services has the government introduced to protect the migrant community during the pandemic? This paper identifies the flaws of labor policies that have allowed for visa trafficking and exploitation to occur, such as the lack of protection of private sector workers, as well as corruption leading to senior officials within different governmental entities engaging as visa traffickers.
  • Publication
    Conflicts and Convergences of Preservation, Modernism and Sustainability in the Richards Medical Laboratories Renovation
    (2020-09-01) Sung, Di
    Louis Kahn’s Richards Medical Laboratories underwent a two-phased renovation (2013-2015 & 2019), driven by University of Pennsylvania’s Century Bond program’s energy-saving objective. A national historic landmark, a Modernism masterpiece and a heavy equipment-bearing facility, the building had to meet satisfactory results for all the criteria as strict as possible: preservation, Modernism and sustainability. Every Mid-Century rehabilitation project accommodates similar requirements, Richards’ renovation provides a stringent example for others to reference upon. Thus a prudent review on what guidelines suggested, architects and engineers proposed and executed, post-renovation data and findings yielded, are crucial in forming a holistic apprehension. In Richards renovation, an upgrade on HVAC systems, an evaluation on historic monolithic single-pane glass, and eventually repurposing the building are the major renovation strategies. All of the strategies are for sustainability goals but also had to address specific design intention and significance Kahn left. In parallel to Richards, two comparable case studies, Penn’s Evans Dental Building renovation, also a Century Bond program project, and Yale University Art Gallery, also rehabilitated Kahn’s single-pane glass, provided comprehensive information for complementary purposes. The information induced could serve as an epitome for projects of similar context and restrictions.
  • Publication
    Data-Based Urban Heritage Policy Assessment: Evaluating Tel Aviv’s Preservation Plan
    (2021-05-01) Feiglin, Ilil
    Urban heritage policies are rarely assessed on a regular or continuous basis. Formal indicator guidelines and scholarly work address some possible evaluation methods for urban heritage policies, but a gap exists between the generalized work and limited on-site implementation. Spatial and non-spatial datasets should contribute to our understanding and refinement of such policies. Yet, in practice, data and the proper assessment mechanisms are often lacking. This research presents Tel Aviv’s 2650b preservation plan as a case study to explore possible assessment methods of policy effectiveness. Tel Aviv is the second-largest city in Israel. In 2003 UNESCO declared the White City of Tel Aviv, the center-city area, a World Heritage Site (WHS). UNESCO based the designation on an outstanding synthesis of the Modern architecture movement and an outstanding example of new town planning of the 20th century. Municipal plan 2650b was enacted in 2008 and is linked to the WHS, protecting modern architecture and mainly focusing on the center-city area. The Plan classifies properties into two preservation levels and three architectural styles. The city’s online building archive facilitates analysis and evaluation of plan 2650b. The Plan has been in place for over a decade, during which no data-driven comprehensive evaluation or monitoring processes occurred. Relying upon Kitchin’s definition of effectiveness, in the context of urban indicators, as “whether goals and objectives are being met – doing the right things,” this research asks: what factors correlate with the effectiveness of Tel Aviv’s preservation plan? Three sub-questions lead the research: Are the Plan’s goals being met? Are they being met in the same way throughout the Plan area? And, how, if at all, are pre-existing characteristics of the properties addressed by the Plan? The study assesses the outlined goals and presents a roadmap for constructing indicators and spatial analysis for a specific policy. The study approach uses an author-created property-level database to assess proposed customized indicators and run spatial analysis. It finds that the prevalence of preservation varies across space, among architectural types, and between the two preservation-restriction levels. In particular, the Plan is relatively less effective at preserving Modernist buildings. These findings reveal the inconsistency of the Plan at protecting the Modernist architecture at the core of the global designation. The results stress the need for data collection, setting numeric objectives, monitoring plan outcomes, and potential future research to realign incentives with preservation goals.
  • Publication
    Pink and papered: the John and Bartha Moulton homestead and its relationship to broader trends in rural, Mormon, and domestic architecture in the American West
    (2020-09-01) Yoder, Noah
    The John and Bartha Moulton Homestead is one of six remaining homesteads settled by Mormon families along “Mormon Row,” an early 20th century ranching community in Grand Teton National Park. Built in 1938, the Moulton family’s home is known as the “Pink House” for its striking pink exterior. It is a standout relic of late-stage homesteading and has become a popular tourist attraction. The house has been unoccupied since 1990 and has been passively conserved by The National Park Service. As such, the building retains a high degree of integrity and still showcases original hardware, wallpaper, paint, and other finishes that illustrate the life and tastes of the Moulton family. Though anomalous in color, the Pink House was in many ways typical of homesteads along Mormon Row and among 20th century Mormon homes throughout the American West. Today, few buildings remain on Mormon Row, and those that do are largely log frame structures in keeping with a romantic, rustic vision of western settlement. However, the Moulton homestead is a vibrant reminder that the Row was once populated by thoughtfully designed houses in a variety of materials. This thesis examines the Pink House and its interior finishes as they relate to Mormon domestic architecture, and contextualizes the house within greater trends in farmhouse planning and design as modern amenities and mass-produced items became available in rural areas.
  • Publication
    A Comparative Study of Infrared Thermography (IRT) And Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) as Methods to Measure Moisture Levels in Adobe Walls
    (2020-01-01) Wu, Chongke
    vation professionals to aid them in diagnosing building damage. Infrared thermography (IRT) and radio frequency identification (RFID) are increasingly used to map moisture distribution and identify areas with anomalous moisture content in structures. Compared with embedded or extracted quantitative sample analysis, IRT and RFID moisture sensors are a better alternative to measure moisture content levels due to their non/low destructive nature and ability to provide large scale moisture patterns. This thesis reviews current methods to locate and measure moisture in historical buildings, and then examines the application of IRT and RFID techniques to quantitatively measure moisture content in adobe walls using a set of uniform sand columns Gravimetric analysis is used to correlate moisture levels in samples with both techniques (IRT and RFID) under study.
  • Publication
    Activating Our Tools: A Qualitative Analysis of Statewide Historic Preservation Plans
    (2022-01-01) Greening, Anne
    Since the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, State Historic Preservation Offices have been required to create and implement Statewide Historic Preservation Plans on a recurring cycle. Despite this longstanding requirement, State Plans have been overlooked in academic research and there have been few comprehensive evaluations of the planning process, the written plans, and their implementation. This thesis begins to fill that gap in research and suggests further areas of study for future researchers. Through interviews with staff at the National Park Service, an online survey of SHPOs in U.S. states, territories, and Freely Associated States, and follow up interviews with seven states, this thesis analyzes current practices of State Planning, including common challenges to planning, areas of success, and innovative practices. This thesis recommends best practices for SHPOs’ creation and implementation of Statewide Historic Preservation Plans, as well as ways for the NPS to assist states in their planning processes.
  • Publication
    Interpreting Midway Barn: Understanding Frank Lloyd Wright's Agrarian Vision
    (2021-01-01) Ro, Ha Leem
    At first glance, Midway Barn in Spring Green, Wisconsin presents itself as another example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s distinctive, if evolving style, its horizontal massing, tilted roof planes, and natural materials echoing the hilly landscape of the farm and its environs. Analysis of the documentary record and a range of sources on Wright’s life and thought, however, points to a richer story. Part of Wright’s larger campaign to reclaim his hometown landscape after his return to the Jones Valley, Midway Barn reflects his desire to reenact the agrarian lessons learned in his youth through the Taliesin Fellowship. Viewed in this way, Midway Barn offers insight not only into the architect’s biography but also into his complicated and sometimes contradictory relationship to “rural” values, materials, and ways of life. It also allows us to compare the barn’s striking visual innovations to its more conventional program and use, both of which were quite at home in the agricultural landscape of early 20th-century Wisconsin. Taking a cue from Freeman Tilden’s observation that the key goal of interpretation is “not instruction, but provocation,” this thesis challenges the perception of Midway Barn as a straightforward example of Wright’s modernist interpretation of a traditional American barn. Instead, this study treats the complex as a window to interpret Wright’s ideas about the role of agriculture and rural lifeways in regional and national society.
  • Publication
    Soot in the Mortar: Climate Crisis Interpretation at The Elms
    (2022-01-01) Pentecost-Farren, Aislinn Eyre
    As climate change effects increase, historic sites with connections to the fossil fuel industry assume new meaning. These sites offer opportunities to grow public recognition of climate change history and the ways our cultural values and economic systems feed the climate crisis. This thesis investigates The Elms, coal magnate Edward Berwind’s 1901 mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, as an especially apt case study for interpreting the history of the climate crisis at historic sites and industrialist house museums. The thesis begins with an overview of recent literature on the interpretation of “hidden” and “difficult” histories at historic sites, climate change interpretation in the museum industry, and the state of climate change history as a field of study. The thesis then presents a brief history of Berwind’s coal business and an account of the businesses’ role in the current climate crisis. The Berwind-White Coal Mining Company played a significant role in global CO2 emissions during the late nineteenth century when climate change began to accelerate. The thesis proposes ways the mansion could include the origins of climate change in its public interpretation, based on a material culture study of several artifacts that offer compelling opportunities to discuss climate crisis histories with visitors. These objects include a small-gauge train used to transport coal for the furnace, the grates and boilers of The Elms’ heating system, a commemorative medallion, and a letter left by a visitor whose father worked in Berwind’s mines. These artifacts are the basis for an appendix that provides narrative scripts that can be easily inserted into The Elms’ existing audio tour. Historic sites offer an experiential way for the public to encounter the history of climate change. In-person interactions with objects and spaces hold the potential to expand understanding and awaken people to ways that contemporary values and systems continue to worsen the planetary climate crisis humanity faces.
  • Publication
    Monumental mass marketing: how the Vermont Marble Company standardized memorials in early 20th century America
    (2021-01-01) Lisowski, Renata
    At the turn of the 20th century, the Vermont Marble Company was the largest producer of marble goods in the United States and a critical force in the standardization and diffusion of gravestones across the country. The Vermont Marble Company utilized new modes of mass production, established a national distribution network, and embraced the use of catalogs to sell their products. This thesis examines a set of gravestone catalogs printed in 1916 and used by the Vermont Marble Company’s sales representatives in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, and San Francisco. The catalogs contain hundreds of images of gravestones sold by the company and capture a transitional moment of funerary traditions in the United States from elaborate 19th century mourning culture to modern standardized memorials. This thesis shows through statistical analysis of the catalogs that the Vermont Marble Company had a regionally distinctive approach to distribution of their gravestone designs, and it interprets the findings through a website and lesson plans that engage students with archival material, secondary sources, and historical artifacts.