Look Up! A Modern brick house on the city’s grand boulevard

The Parkway House borrowed from earlier styles, but the designers gave it an identify of its own.


“Look Up!” is a PlanPhilly feature that encourages appreciation of our architectural and historical environment. The photo essays focus on different Philadelphia areas and their distinctive building styles and details, all of which make up the physical fabric of the city and region.


One of the first residential buildings to rise near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was the Parkway House, 22nd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. It was one of the city’s first post-war luxury residences, and one of the first to be designed by a woman.


The firm of Gabriel Roth and Elizabeth Fleischer built Parkway House in 1953, borrowing from 1930s styles for their Modern apartment house.  The wings of the building step slowly down and toward the Parkway, in keeping with the Art Deco training of Roth, who also worked on the flamboyant Deco-styled WCAU Building on Chestnut Street (now the Art Institute of Philadelphia).


The Parkway House is mainly unadorned, in keeping with the earlier International Style. But curved bay widows run up the front of the façade of Parkway House in vertical rows and balconies feather out along the ends of the wings. Rather than cold steel and glass, Roth and Fleischer chose brick for the Parkway House, befitting a warm, residential rowhouse instead of an impersonal, office skyscraper.


The multi-leveled design also offers open terraces and gardens, and great summertime views of the fireworks along the Parkway.


Contact the writer at ajaffe@planphilly.com.

parkway house sign
Lettering recalls the Parkway House’s Deco influence.

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