Researchers:
David Artigas
Fon Wang
Photo: Vincent Kling

Introduction

“Our fundamental conviction in approaching the design of every project is that architecture is for the people… the greatest challenge to the architect is to recreate environments for the people…Elegance, grace, style, functional efficiency, economy and durability are still important to owners as ever, but today the most pressing need is for humane spaces in which people can live and breathe.”  -Vincent Kling, 1969

            Vincent Kling’s philosophy to design was apparent in his vision for the urban redevelopment of downtown Philadelphia.  His masterplan for Penn Center had a major impact on the urban design of the city.  Although portions of the plan have been demolished or replaced the effect of the plan remains today.

After World War II, Center City Philadelphia was described in scholarly journals a dark and blighted city in social and economic decline.  Residents of the city began moving out to the suburbs in search of space and greenery.  The car was an instrument of everyday life as people commuted to the city for work and hurried home at five leaving the city deserted.  There was a shortage of available office space in the city, and business also began looking to move out to the suburbs.  With the lack of workers and pedestrian traffic around town, stores and businesses suffered.  Three major department stores (Lit Brothers, Frank Sedar and Snellenberg) had closed and a third (Gimbals) was considering a move out of the city.  The heyday of city living seemed to be over

In 1963, city officials announced a redevelopment plan that would revitalize center city Philadelphia and attempt to draw the middle class back to the city.  Vincent Kling played a major role in this redevelopment with the design of towers, plazas and transportation hubs that would occupy center city along Market Street west of city hall.  The driving force behind his design was his theory of architecture for the people which would become his underlying philosophy throughout his career. Kling was a relatively unknown young architect in Philadelphia at the time of redevelopment.  His role in the project shaped the urban design of Philadelphia today, and established him as a modernist icon.  This report will examine the work of Vincent Kling during the critical years of urban renewal in Philadelphia and how his vision changed the built environment of the city for the everyday lives of Philadelphians.

This website was created to satisfy the requirements of:
HSPV 600 Historic Documentation and Archival Research
University of Pennsylvania
Fall, 2005


This webpage and its contents are for educational purposes only.

Urban Renewal Movement in Philadelphia and Building Timeline
Critique and Analysis
of Urban Renewal in
Philadelphia
Acknowledgements and Bibliography