>Philly- I’m headed your way


Yup, Dr. Jay and I are packing up for the day and heading to Philadelphia on Saturday. I haven’t been there since I was a kid and I really only remember the Liberty Bell, so this should be cool.

I’m looking forward to seeing this:


It’s the PSFS building! I remember learning about it in History of Modern Architecture, which I took in under-grad and TAed for in grad school. Here’s my condensed version:

Built as the headquarters for the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society, it was the first International Style skyscraper built in the United States. The International Style as a term was coined with a book by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock, written in 1932 to record the International Exhibition of Modern Architecture held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. But clearly, the PSFS was among the esprit de corps that lead to such an exhibition. It was designed by George Howe and William Lescaze between 1925 and 1932. This was a revolutionary undertaking for its time, and I am sure the stock market crash of 1929 didn’t help matters. The company’s initials at the top stand 27 feet tall in red neon. Interestingly, the PSFS was founded in the 1816 and was the first savings bank in the U.S. Prior to that, savings banks were merely a European notion.

The building was extremely cutting edge for the early 30s. It was the first building of its size to be fully air-conditioned, and most of the furniture and design elements had to be custom-designed because nothing like them existed in the U.S.

It sits at 1200 Market Street in Philadelphia. See you there, PSFS!


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