Learn more about Philadelphia Architecture... Online Or On Your Phone
Explore Philadelphia's architectural treasures with AIA Philadelphia's Building Finder. Use your laptop or desktop computer to peruse the many different architectural styles found within the city limits, or use your smartphone to create an impromptu architectural tour of the city. AIA Philadelphia Members are encouraged to login to the site and provide commentary on the buildings found in the Building Finder, creating an untold history of Philadelphia's most recognized buildings. For a more in-depth look at Philadelphia's iconic architecture, visit the AIA Bookstore and Design Center to purchase a copy of Philadelphia Architecture: A Guide to the City, published by the Center for Architecture.
1001 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Date Constructed: 1873-1875/renovated as The Victory 2003
Architect(s): Henry Fernback; renovations J.K. Roller Architects
Participating AIA Philadelphia Members: JKR Partners LLC
The Victory Building, a branch office of the New York Life Insurance Company, was the first commercial building in the city designed in the Second Empire style. Originally the building was three stories high with a mansard roof. When it was enlarged, the mansard roof was removed and then set back in place after three floors were added. A balustrade on the facade marks the division between the old and the new. The lower three stories are richly textured with classical pilasters and columns; the upper floors are more restrained.
The building was designed to be fireproof. The exterior is faced with granite, and the interior has iron posts and girders and iron frames around the windows and doors. The windows also had iron shutters. The corridors were lavishly outfitted with ornate ironwork and marble, making the Victory Building an elegant office building for its time.
Walnut Street Theatre
829 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Date Constructed: 1808-1809
Architect(s): John Haviland
The first theater company in the United States opened in Philadelphia in 1749. Quaker opposition hindered the early development of a permanent theater, but by 1820, Philadelphia was the theatrical center of the country.
When the Walnut Theatre was built, it was at the western edge of the city. The theater was renovated in 1816 and again in 1828, when John Haviland added a Greek Revival facade for Joseph Randall the developer of York Row. Haviland's facade was decorated with painted cast-iron details. The facade was obscured by later renovations by J. C. Hoxi and Willis Hale, which were removed when the building was restored in 1970-72. The theater had a national reputation and attracted great performers of the period, including Forest, Booth, Bernhardt and Barrymore. It is the oldest continuously used theater in the country.
712 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Date Constructed: 1807
Architect(s): carpenter, Joseph Randall
York Row was another speculative housing development started by William Samson. The plan of the houses and the simple repetition of units are similar to his previous project across the street. Certain details such as the splayed lintels with projecting keystones above the windows, are typical of Georgain design. But the absence of beltcourse and cornice modillions, combined with the profusion of detail around the entrances and the delicate details and the scale, indicated that the overall design is based on the Federal style. The houses were altered significantly in 2003 for the construction of the St. James Apartments.