These scans were taken from a set of measured drawings of Philadelphia houses done by first-year architecture students at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Fine Arts in 1979, 1980, and 1981.* They were produced for a course conducted by John Blatteau and Paul Hirshorn, with an assignment directing students to record a dwelling in a standardized format on a 11 x 17-inch piece of paper combining a specific set of plans, sections, elevations, and details.
Many students chose older buildings, often apartments or group homes that had been converted from single-family houses, which reflect significant change since their initial construction. The plan is often a snapshot of accommodation to changed uses and new domestic norms, especially in the reconfiguration of kitchens and bathrooms. To some degree their distribution within the city doubtlessly tracks the areas of Philadelphia best known to these Penn students, many probably near their places of residence.
The collection is a valuable resource documenting the configuration of a wide range of housing, much of it of a middling sort not usually so completely recorded in such careful drawings. The block-long frontages also record parts of the city in a way not commonly seen.
Our initial goal here is to present these in a comprehensive way easily
accessed geographically. At some later point we may try to annotate these
in terms of their history and typologies.
To access information by location, 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.
*The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Fine Arts has agreed to make digital surrogates of these images accessible via the web exclusively for consultation by researchers, students, educators, and others pursuing their curiosity. No item may be reproduced, redistributed, or republished in any way without the express prior written permission of the The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Fine Arts. You must agree to accept these conditions in order to use this website.