These images were digitized from sets of measured drawings of Philadelphia rowhouses made by first-year architecture students at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Fine Arts in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1981. Over five years, 152 houses were surveyed and recorded. They are the product of a joint assignment for the introductory studio and drawing courses supervised by John Blatteau and Paul Hirshorn.*
Pairs of students were assigned to survey two houses, and then to record a single dwelling in a standardized format combining plans, sections, elevations, and details at comparative scales. (For an expanded discussion of the pedagogical purpose of these exercises see Paul Hirshorn, “Comparative Rowhouse Study,” Journal of Architectural Education, July 1983, pp. 14-17.) The drawings were then checked for accuracy in terms of drawing conventions, and accurate description of the houses. The drawings were then reproduced at exactly 1/3 size (to allow for accurate scaling) so the results of the surveys of the class, and all the classes before them, were available as reference material for the student’s first design problem -- the design of a block of rowhouses.
Some of the houses surveyed, particularly the newer ones, are drawn in their original form. Most of the drawings, though, reflect significant changes made since initial construction, and represent a snapshot of accommodation to new domestic norms, especially in the reconfiguration of kitchens and bathrooms.
This collection is a valuable resource documenting the configuration of a wide range of rowhouse types. The block-long frontages also record parts of the city in a way not commonly seen. The houses presented here are organized geographically. Simply click on any of the colored dots or numbers, such as 28, to see information and images for that site. (A number with an arrow indicates that a site is off this map.) To access sites in the more crowded areas, click on the portions of the map marked "inset" to zoom in further. From the inset maps you may click individual locations to link to images of that site. For the sake of clarity, particularly in the more crowded inset maps, locations have been colored and numbered separately, according to the year in which they were done. Houses from the 1979 collection are in red. Houses from the 1980 collection are in blue. Houses from the 1981 collection are in green. To access these images in alphabetical list form, irrespective of year, please click here.