Frank Weise and the Redevelopment of Philadelphia

Life History

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Life History


Philadelphia Redevelopment


Early developments:

Frank Weise (1918- 2003) was an architect who practiced in Philadelphia during the modernist era. After completing his degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1942, he worked briefly in the office of George Howe and Louis I. Kahn, where he contributed to several of the war housing projects in the office. During his work with Kahn, it is believed that he was influenced by the Kahn’s style of work of that period. The post war period also saw an increase of concrete in building construction. There was a need to construct quicker using prefabricated elements of building particularly pre-cast concrete sills and lintels, which he later used in his housing developments at the Lombard Street .

Camac Village



Back in Philadelphia :

Weise went to Harvard University to complete an M. Arch. in 1945. With other contemporary architects like Walter Gropius at the school he definitely has been influenced with the Bauhaus School of thought. That same year, he studied design at the progressive and experimental Black Mountain College , in Black Mountain , NC . After World War II, Weise was based in Chicago , IL , working in 1946 on the planning staff of Michael Reese Hospital . In 1949, while in the office of Loebl, Schlossman & Bennett, he worked on the design of Park Forest, IL, a residential and commercial development intended for returning GI's and their families. Weise returned to Philadelphia around 1950 and established his own office.


Later developments:

He also led a group of the city's architects in an effort to redesign the proposed path of Interstate 95 through one of the oldest parts of Philadelphia along the Delaware River. Weise's group succeeded in having a portion of the highway depressed below street level, retaining some access from the city to the riverfront. In 1963, after seeing the plans for an elevated Interstate 95, he warned city officials that the design would undermine the waterfront's potential for development. He suggested that the highway should be depressed and covered with a six-block-long park.



Weise was involved in a number of other important architectural and cultural projects in the city. In the 1970s, Weise's projects included the restoration and renovation of Head House Square in the Society Hill which earned him a national award.


In recent weeks, he was working on a new design for Penn's Landing that he had hoped to present at a March 13 public hearing. This time, he contended a glass-enclosed botanical garden could save the waterfront. He helped to found the Wilma Theater and the Theater of the Living Arts in Philadelphia.


He Passed away on 31 Jan 2003.