The Chestnut Hill Conservancy is hosting a lecture by internationally renowned architect and author Witold Rybczynski on Nov. 8.
The Chestnut Hill Conservancy is hosting a lecture by internationally renowned architect and author Witold Rybczynski on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting house on East Mermaid Lane from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Rybczynski, Emeritus Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania, will be discussing three of Chestnut Hill’s most iconic examples of modernist architecture: The Vanna Venturi House, the Margaret Esherick House, and the Dorothy Shipley White House. He chose the subject, he said, because he “found the creative combination of three interesting houses, three talented architects, and three adventurous women to be irresistible.”
During this illustrated lecture, Rybczynski will present the three buildings – which are among the most internationally recognized residences in the city of Philadelphia – and discuss and compare the architectural intent behind their design.
Rybczynski personally witnessed the advent of modern architecture in Chestnut Hill. He first visited Chestnut Hill as a student in 1965, while on a field trip from Canada to see important American architecture. That trip included a visit to what was then the newly-built Esherick House.
He subsequently lived with his wife, Shirley, in Chestnut Hill for almost 30 years after his 1993 appointment as the Martin and Margy Meyerson Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania.
Born in Edinburgh to Polish parents and raised in London, Rybcynski studied architecture at McGill University in Montreal and taught there for twenty years while also practicing architecture.
His work includes practical experiments in low-cost housing across the globe, from Mexico and Central America to Nigeria, Tanzania, India, the Philippines, and China. He served on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts from 2004 to 2012 and in 2014 he received the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Design Mind.
Rybczynski has written twenty-two books on subjects as varied as the evolution of comfort, a history of the weekend, American urbanism, the development of a new community, and a search for the origins of the screwdriver. His articles have appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, and the New York Times.
His book “Home” has been translated into ten languages and was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Prize, while “A Clearing in the Distance,” a biography of Frederick Law Olmsted, received the J. Anthony Lukas Prize, a Christopher Award, a Philadelphia Athenæum literary award, and was shortlisted for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction. His latest book is The Story of Architecture, a sweeping history from the Stone Age to the present day.
The lecture is made possible by Conservancy sponsors, supportive businesses and the sponsorship of John B. Ward & Co. Arborists.
Admission is $15 for Chestnut Hill Conservancy and docomomo Members and $25 for Non-Members. Registration is required. After the lecture, copies of his newly released book, "A Story of Architecture," will be available for purchase during a book signing.
For more information, visit chconservancy.org.