1970 - 1989

In the 1970s, the architecture departments at Drexel and Temple universities were accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. Together with Penn's program, these schools reinforced Philadelphia's prominence as the region's architectural training ground.

For America's Bicentennial in 1976, the AIA brought its national convention to Philadelphia again. The Chapter opened its AIA Bookstore to coincide with these events. It remains one of the few full-service bookstores run by an AIA Chapter in the U.S.

Also in the 1970s, the architecture departments at Drexel and Temple universities were accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. Together with Penn's program, these schools reinforced Philadelphia's prominence as the region's architectural training ground.

The Philadelphia Architects Charitable Trust, formed by AIA Philadelphia in the 1960s, evolved to become the Foundation for Architecture in 1980. The Foundation took on the role of public education and advocacy. Leslie Gallery, FAIA, the Chapter's executive director at the time, became the Foundation's director as well. In 1983, the Foundation moved to a separate office and Gallery moved with it. A year later, the group published Philadelphia Architecture: A Guide to the City, the definitive reference book on the city's built environment. (It was revised and released again in November 1994.) The Foundation may be best known for its architectural tours of the city and suburbs and its annual fund-raising event, the Beaux Arts Ball, the largest party of its kind in the nation.

In 1987, the "gentleman's agreement" not to build higher than William Penn's statue atop City Hall was broken by One Liberty Place, a 60-story blue glass skyscraper with apparent references to Manhattan's Chrysler Building, designed by Chicago architect Helmut Jahn. Following Liberty Place's example, several more skyscrapers topped with distinctive crowns and imaginative lighting transformed western Center City's skyline. Among these is Bell Atlantic Tower, a handsome red granite high-rise with a ziggurat cap, designed by The Kling-Lindquist Partnership. In eastern Center City, redevelopment continues with the opening of the Convention Center Marriott by Bower Lewis Thrower and the Criminal Justice Center by Vitetta Group.

The '80s building boom gave rise to new concerns about urban planning. In 1988, the City Planning Commission, under the direction of Barbara Kaplan, released The Plan for Center City. Written by the Commission, which consulted with Robert Geddes, FAIA, and Robert Brown, FAIA, the plan attempts to define where growth can be accommodated while preserving the city's sense of history and small scale streets and buildings. In addition to delineating development districts, such as the area around the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the Avenue of the Arts, and Center City East, the plan made specific suggestions about improving downtown. Many already have been enacted, including revised zoning codes about the use of public space, new vendor ordinances, improved signs, and a master plan for City Hall's restoration.