Look Up! Contemporary neighbors in Society Hill

“Look Up” is a PlanPhilly feature that encourages appreciation of our architectural and historical environment. Each week, the photo essay will focus on a different Philadelphia area neighborhood and its distinctive building styles and details, all of which make up the physical fabric of the city and region.

The rebirth of Society Hill in the 1960s involved the careful restoration of block after block of 18th and 19th century houses. Not all were salvageable, however, and demolition left gaping holes in the neighborhood. It also offered opportunities for creative approaches to new construction within the historic environment.

Mitchell/Giurgola Associates, the Philadelphia-based firm that sees architecture as a historical progression and seeks to fit structures into their context, built two houses along Delancey Street in Society Hill in the late 1960s.

The Zebooker House, 110-12 Delancey, uses a brick façade that complements the homes around it, but has fewer and well-spaced windows and first-floor recesses that make a modern statement. 

The Franklin Roberts House, 230 Delancey, built by Mitchell/Giurgola with Roy Vollmer in 1969, offers a stronger contrast to its neighbors. The brick is darker, the entrance deep-set, and the windows higher and assymetrical.

Both houses are interesting descendants of the Colonial style. They have singular mid-century identities, but stay within the scale and context of the street and make excellent younger neighbors.

“Look Up” Imaginative Eyre on Locust Street

“Look Up!” Elfreth’s Alley has issues

“Look Up” Architectural exercises on Boathouse Row

“Look Up!” John Notman’s brownstone temples

“Look Up!” 19th Century luxe on Locust St.

“Look Up!: 20th Century evolution in East Falls

“Look Up!” Rural retreats in Northeast Philly

“Look Up!” Modernist lines on Haverford Ave.

“Look Up!” Chestnut Hill’s modernist gems

Contact the writer at ajaffe@planphilly.com.

“Look Up!” The Art Deco Palace of Mt. Airy
Look Up! An architect’s legacy on Spruce Street
Look Up!” The French Village in Mt. Airy
“Look Up” and check out the nouveau mansions of North Broad

“Look Up” and check out elegant Southwark
“Look Up” and check out Henry Disston’s company town
“Look Up: and check out Spruce Hill
“Look Up” and check out Green Street
“Look Up” and check out West Laurel Hill
“Look Up” and check out Parkside
“Look Up” and check out Awbury Arboretum
“Look Up” and check out Nicetown
“Look Up” and check out Overbrook Farms
“Look Up” and check out Girard Estate
“Look Up” and check out Rittenhouse/Fitler Square

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