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Toward a Modern American Architecture: The Vertical Style of Will Price
Zoom Lecture and Discussion
Saturday, March 06, 2021

Click here to purchase a video of the event ($5).

Join the SAH/SCC as we welcome back George E. Thomas (“Rediscovering Frank Furness”) to introduce us to another Philadelphia modernist, William Price. Thomas will be joined by noted author Alan Hess in a lively and provocative conversation about the domestic and international roots of modernism.

Thomas is the author of the book William L. Price: Arts and Crafts to Modern Design (Princeton Architectural Press, 2000). In the 1930s William Price of the Philadelphia office of Price & McLanahan was widely acknowledged as one of the architects who had transformed American architecture in modern directions. Like Louis Sullivan and George Howe (who designed Philadelphia’s PSFS building in 1932), Price shared the experience of having trained in the office of Frank Furness and like his fellow student saw the possibilities of contemporary life as a source of a new architecture.

In 1930, Howe, writing for American Architect (May 1930) on the topic of “What this Modern Architecture is Trying to Express” noted the failure of the United States to honor its most original designers: “America has always been the land of lone prophets without much but posthumous honor in their own country, … and Wright, Sullivan and Price were among the first to grasp the architectural possibilities of the new life and the new means of construction; their names were known in Europe, while they remained comparatively obscure among their fellow countrymen.”

With the Euro-focused International Style exhibit and catalog at the Museum of Modern Art, Price disappeared from the books and from history to the extent that by the 1950s it would have been difficult to establish which Price Howe was describing.

In his lecture, Thomas will demonstrate Will Price’s role in shaping the architecture of the American 1920s, creating forms that a decade after Price pioneered them were the basis for the so-called Art Deco, the style that Price’s office called the “Vertical Style.”

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