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 14
  • Publication
    Encasing the American Dream: The Story of Plastic and Steel
    (2014-01-01) Roark, Patton Howell
    This thesis considers a preservation understanding and treatment for mid twentieth-century building materials that were designed and promoted to appear “brand new” in perpetuity. Based on their significance as pervasive mid-twentieth-century building materials, as well as their broader social, cultural, and technological roles, this study focuses on porcelain enameled steel and high-pressure plastic laminate. In order to comprehend the role and cultural importance of these materials, this study investigates how innovations in the manufacture of enameled steel and plastic laminate, as well as the corporations that developed these products, helped to create an ideal American kitchen, a symbol of postwar prosperity, patriotism, and progress. In addition to explaining the history of how these materials were produced, marketed, and used, this thesis provides a practical guide for preservation professionals, curators, and historic home owners, detailing the options involved in preserving, restoring, and conserving plastic laminate and enameled steel.
  • Publication
    Henry H. Houston's Germantown Development Portfolio, 1860-1895: A Niche Suburb's History and Placement Within Suburban Historiography and Preservation Planning
    (2016-01-01) Bevan, Joshua
    Over the course of 25 years, Pennsylvania Railroad Company executive and land developer, Henry H. Houston, amassed a real estate portfolio spanning 3,000-plus acres in northwestern Philadelphia. Houston’s holdings in Germantown, an emerging Philadelphia suburb during the mid-Nineteenth century, have been overshadowed in terms of scholarly research by Houston’s large-scale community development in neighboring Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. Accordingly, this thesis aims to uncover a comprehensive development narrative for Houston’s Germantown development, connecting land holdings, associated dwellings, architectural character, and social history together in order to determine if Houston’s role in Germantown was simply a precursor to later development or integral to suburbanization in Northwest Philadelphia. Key aspects of the historic narrative include: Germantown’s initial period of rapid suburbanization during the 1850s and subsequent suburban growth during the 1880s; Houston’s influence upon the character of the neighborhood both architecturally and demographically; and the overall significance of Houston-era development in Germantown as it relates to suburban development typologies established by scholars and preservation entities such as the National Park Service. Methodologically, this thesis utilizes archival research, field/site documentation through photography and GIS mapping, and secondary research spanning several contexts including suburban history, architectural history, and social history.
  • Publication
    To Build on the Past: A Foundational Database of the Vermont Marble Company Archives
    (2015-01-01) Pluskota, Kaitlin
    This thesis took advantage of the rare opportunity to look into the business records of the Vermont Marble Company. A study period of 1924-1927, and about 1,000 contracts from the company were first recorded in a digital database and then examined. As a preliminary study of this material, this thesis suggests future uses of the Vermont Marble Company archive and recounts the information gathered from this venture. Architectural trends related to the Beaux-Arts, City Beautiful, and Art-Deco movements were observed, as were trends related to specific marble types and building project locations.
  • Publication
    A House Fit for a Bee: Historic Apiary Typologies and Technologies
    (2016-01-01) Lengel, Sonja Jean
    This thesis defined historic apiary typologies and technologies including: bee houses and honey houses, bee shelters, stands, and hives. Because of a strong beekeeping tradition in Philadelphia and its influential role in the advancement of apiculture, this paper researched apiary typologies beginning in Philadelphia and its region. The Rev. L.L. Langstroth, a Philadelphian, experimented with beekeeping methods and technologies, inventing the moveable-frame hive in 1851, which would later make the bee house and other forms of protection unnecessary. Bee manual authors provided various structural forms to protect the hives, produce valuable honey, and aid the beekeeping process. These vernacular structures were either decorative and playful as an architectural folly in the landscape, or simply utilitarian and unadorned. A bee house and honey house remain intact in Madison, Indiana and stand as rare tangible evidence of the type. Other regions developed their own typologies, but common themes emerged. The typological defining features are; protecting the beehive from weather and temperature fluctuations, providing ample forage, utilizing trees as wind breaks, and locating the apiary near a frequented dwelling. This thesis reveals a once common but now obscure outbuilding type that has largely disappeared from the American cultural landscape and rescued the bee house form from near total obscurity.
  • Publication
    Revisiting Gordion's Pebble Mosaic Pavement: Evaluating Re-Backing Techniques and Investigating Alkali-Silica Reaction
    (2014-01-01) Wohlgemuth, Kevin Adam
    The 9th c. B.C.E. Megaron 2 pebble mosaic from Gordion is the oldest known mosaic pavement to date. Discovered in 1956, it was subsequently cut into 33 individual panels, lifted, and stored outdoors for two decades before reinstallation under a sheltered, sub-grade, outdoor exhibit at the Gordion Museum. Recent research into its conservation history and current condition in preparation for re-interpretation and display has revealed the potential for further deterioration through alkali-silica reaction between the siliceous pebbles and the cementitious backing. Moreover, the enigmatic geometric designs are now difficult to read due to the loss of pebbles, misalignment of the panels, fragmentation by lacunae and gaps between the panels, rebar cracking, and cementitious over-grout. These conditions have created a critical situation that must be remedied to preserve this historically significant mosaic and make it more readily available for interpretation and exhibition. This paper assesses materials and techniques for re-backing the mosaic and investigates the potential for alkali-silica reaction. This includes empirical tests on replica mosaic panels for the removal of the reinforced concrete and cementitious over-grout, the evaluation of critical properties related to the facing and re-backing materials, and petrographic analysis for the detection of evidence of alkali-silica reaction. The analysis, testing, and proposed treatments for this significant archaeological pavement is presented in light of contemporary conservation approaches for ancient tessellated pavements and explores the limits to current knowledge and practice when applied to a natural pebble mosaics.
  • Publication
    Evaluation of Repair Methods for Structural Cracks: Early Period Monastic Architecture, Ladakh Case: Mangyu Monastery
    (2006-01-01) Dandona, Bhawna
    Decorated surfaces on earthen architecture and their structural problems are issues of prime concern to this thesis. It assesses methods of structural repairs to cracks for Early Period (9th-11th century) Monastic buildings in Ladakh, India. The aim is to investigate and evaluate compatible repair techniques for the structural problems in such buildings in accordance with current knowledge for earthen buildings. The main objectives of the study are to research on early period monasteries in India as a building type, their structural and seismic characteristics; document the defects and investigate the structural problems by means of a case study; determine possible causes of deterioration; to review various techniques of repair and consolidation (includes traditional and contemporary) of structural cracks; and finally evaluate the suitability and applicability of these methods for decorated surfaces by using criteria’s developed for intervention.
  • Publication
    An Investigation of Chinese Historical Grey Bricks of Soochow, Jiangsu and the Effect of Tung Oil Treatment
    (2015-01-01) Xia, Wenwen
    The grey brick is one of the key materials to Chinese traditional architecture. While brick-making in Europe and North America is well documented in sufficient literature, the kiln, firing and properties of the Chinese grey brick is to be explored more in detail. The process gives the bricks a different character and color. Bunches of Chinese literature and informal records show the outstanding character of Chinese grey bricks. And it is why historical grey bricks were commonly used in architectural buildings, city walls, mausoleum. This thesis is aimed to verify the good properties of Chinese grey brick through experiments, and investigate the effect of Tung oil in the treatment of brick materials, especially grey bricks.
  • Publication
    From Philadelphia Country House to City Recreation Center: Uncovering the Architectural History of the Building Known Successively as Blockley Retreat, Kirkbride Mansion, and Lee Cultural Center Through Building Archaeology
    (2016-01-01) Mester, Joseph C
    In this thesis, I analyze the Federal style country house, initiated in 1794, that stands today near the corner of 44th Street and Haverford Avenue in West Philadelphia. As it aged, the owners and occupants slowly transformed the country house from a private “country seat” to a public recreation center in the midst of a dense urban neighborhood. I examine the house and its additions, known collectively today as the Lee Cultural Center, through both documentary and material evidence. This building-archaeological approach studies building materials, finishes, and construction technology in order to date and interpret the construction, alteration, use, and significance of remaining fabric. My study focuses on three important stratigraphic layers within the house. These correspond to the McConnell-Busti Country House period (1794-1824), the Kirkbride Family Residence period (1840-1883), and the Lee Cultural Center period (1957-present). This thesis argues that the distinct layers uncovered during building archaeology reveal a nationally significant story of a building in continuum. Never loudly advertised, the preservation and reuse strategies employed by the building’s stewards over the last 60 years offers a valuable counter-example to the more explicitly curatorial approaches taken to such buildings in Philadelphia and beyond. In the twenty-first century, this country house turned cultural center stands not only as a monument to its early occupants but also proof that a major change in use to suit new social needs does not need to equal the wholesale destruction of historic fabric.
  • Publication
    Standardization in the Lumber Industry: Trade Journals, Builder's Guides and the American Home
    (2014-01-01) Clement, Winston Wallace
    This thesis provides a comprehensive analysis of the technical and structural changes that occurred within the American lumber industry in the half century after the Civil War. The format of this thesis is as follows: a review of relevant literature pertaining to all aspects of American wood-frame residential construction; a description and analysis of the lumber industry in America, focusing on how and why it reacted slowly to changes in demand for building supplies and was hesitant to adapt and incorporate new materials and technologies; an overview of the changes that occurred to residential wood-frame construction, e.g. the transition from heavy timber framing to light wood frame or “balloon”-style construction; an analysis of the varied ways in which the American lumber industry and others promoted standardized building materials. This thesis concludes by analyzing the impact that impact these changes had on American residential architecture. This thesis also acknowledges the ways in which this is relevant within the larger field of historic preservation, and how this information can be used to better understand, interpret and conserve wood-framed residential architecture in America. The purpose of this thesis is to offer a productive and useful document that will fill a void within the existing scholarship.
  • Publication
    The Riddell of Modern Architecture: Defining the Profession in the Mid-Nineteenth Century
    (2015-01-01) Boyce, Eryn
    When Philadelphia architect John Riddell published his pattern book Architectural Designs for Model Country Residences in 1861, American society was in the midst of a decades-long transformation. Industrialization caused rapid growth in America’s urban centers, raised the living standard and purchasing power of a large portion of the nation’s population, and encouraged the creation of separate pockets for business and industry in the urban environment. Against this background, builders, carpenters, and other professionals involved in the construction industry witnessed a push towards professionalization as those calling themselves “architects” sought to define their design work as a distinct profession separate from the realities of construction. These architects, including Riddell, used their pattern books to demonstrate to the American public the important services that professional architects could provide in contradistinction to builders, carpenters, masons, etc. Under the influence of these pattern books, the American public became increasingly concerned with the style of their homes and how strangers viewed a homeowner based on his home. Yet, clients and patrons asserted their needs and opinions, against the advice and strong objections of “architects,” into the suburban ideal located in pattern books, thereby changing the relationship between the ideal and reality. This study uses the life, career, work, pattern book, and professional attitude of Riddell as a case study to analyze the relationship between the changes American society experienced during this period and the creation of the modern architecture profession. It shows that this crucial moment in the profession was more complex than conventional architectural histories generally recognize.