From Arts and Crafts To Modern Design: The Architecture of William L. Price
August 21, 2001 - March 24, 2002
From Arts and Crafts To Modern Design - The Architecture of William L. Price
In 1930, when George Howe was designing the landmark Philadelphia Saving Fund Society (PSFS) skyscraper, he recognized three pioneers of modern American architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, and William Lightfoot Price. While Wright and Sullivan remain central figures in the history of American architecture, Will Price is only now being rediscovered.Practicing in Philadelphia from 1880 until 1916, Will Price designed projects that spanned the eastern half of the continent. His twentieth-century masterpieces became American icons. Price’s design for the Traymore Hotel in Atlantic City (1914 – 1915) established the expressive forms that became models for both tapering skyscrapers and muscular mid-rise buildings. The architect’s design vocabulary for low-rise buildings, articulated in the Chicago Freight Terminal (1914), became popular for many commercial structures of the day. Along with partner Martin Hawley McLanahan, Price and McLanahan’s work in Miami established the American Art Deco style several years before the 1925 French exhibition that gave the style its name. At the modest scale of the private home, Price used modern materials and new systems of ornament to spread modernism into design for the middle-class.
"If ever a man emanated the electric force and energy of Roosevelt, Price is the man!" N. C. Wyeth, January 18, 1915
Price was free to design with such originality because much of his work was for the progressive managers of the Pennsylvania Railroad and for self-made industrialists of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and the Midwest. These entrepreneurs commissioned hotels, railroad stations, retail stores, and private residences. As the twentieth century dawned, Price planned and built experimental communities, popularized the use of reinforced concrete, and pioneered glamorous new forms that replaced historical sources with the dynamism of the modern world. Designing buildings that expressed the energy of the American democracy, William L. Price made the transition from Arts and Crafts to modern design.
© George E. Thomas
Courtesy Price and McLanhan Archive, G.E. Thomas Collection
Courtesy Price and McLanahan Archive, G. E. Thomas Collection
Collection of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown
Price and McLanahan Architects.
This exhibition was organized by the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania; support was provided by the William B. Dietrich Foundation, The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Arena & Co. Construction, John Alexander LTD, The Family of Kenneth W. Dougherty and the Friends of the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania, The Arthur Ross Gallery. Its presentation at the National Building Museum is supported by the Museum’s F. Stuart Fitzpatrick Memorial Exhibition Fund.
The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania; Arden Archives and Museum; The Athenaeum of Philadelphia; Peggy Stephens Aumack; Drawings and Documents Archive, Collegeof Architecture and Planning, Ball State University; Louis De Moll FAIA; Don Erwin; Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress; H. / S. M Collection; E. Morris Potter; Philip N. Price; Princeton Antiques & Books, Atlantic City; Private Collection; The Mott Family; David and Ligia Slovic; Mr. and Mrs. Aleli Spina; George E. Thomas and Emily T. Cooperman; Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown; William Whitaker and Shilpa Mehta.
curator George E. Thomas
coordinating curator Alisa Goetz
director of exhibitions Cathy Crane Frankel
exhibition designers Elizabeth Kaleida, Alisa Goetz