An important center for the development of modern architecture, Penn is an excellent place to study its history. The program is supported by superb library and archival resources, including the internationally important holdings of the university’s Architectural Archives and the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, and Graduate Group faculty are drawn from both the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Design. The vibrant contemporary architectural culture of Philadelphia energizes the work of students and faculty, whose interests include almost all aspects of the built environment from the eighteenth-century to the present.
Mantha Zarmakoupi’s work on the Greek and Roman architecture is entwined with discussions about ecology and sustainability in the fields of modern architecture and urban planning. A recent project tackled the history and legacy of the Delos symposia (1963-75) in the context of the 1960s and 1970s discussions about the future of urban planning to address how they compare with and feed into contemporary concerns about demographic pressures and environmental sustainability and their relation to historical precedents by architects, planners, and others. She collaborates with architects and artists to advance a critical discourse between contemporary and ancient architecture. Her curating work addresses ecological and performative projects of art in archaeological sites and in 2021 she co-curated at the Venice Architecture Biennale an experiment in the historic reconstruction of the Acropolis in Athens with the aim to recover ideas about access and impairment at one of the most canonical, influential, and notoriously inaccessible historic architectural sites.
Much of Shannon Mattern’s research and teaching explores how information is materialized in the built world, in the form of furniture, interiors, architecture, cities, and infrastructure. She has written books about the design of contemporary libraries and the use of data in urban planning; taught classes about cities as intelligent environments and the historical uses of media technologies in architectural practice; and collaborated with various design firms and civic agencies to imagine designed environments that facilitate vibrant, constructive, inclusive forms of communication.
Members of the Graduate Group who work on modern architecture include Annette Fierro (Department of Architecture: modern and contemporary European architecture, with special interest in British postwar architecture), David Leatherbarrow (Department of Architecture: European modernism, with special interest in early twentieth-century theory), Frank Matero (Department of Architecture and Program in Historic Preservation: modern architecture and issues of materials and conservation), Robert St. George (Department of History: American vernacular architecture); Nancy Steinhardt (Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations: twentieth-century architecture in China); Aaron Wunsch (Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning: American architecture and landscape architecture).