1990 - Present
In 1990, the Chapter hosted a Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team, a group of experts who analyzed the area for several blocks around SEPTA's North Broad train station. Out of that effort grew the Chapter's Community Design Collaborative, which now boasts 200 professionals volunteering their time on numerous community design projects.
Philadelphia architects have blazed new trails. In 1993, Chapter member Susan Maxman, FAIA, became AIA National's first female president, and Emanuel Kelly, AIA, became AIA Philadelphia's first African-American president that year.
City planners and many others have turned their attention in this decade to the design of several large projects, including the enhancement of Independence Mall and the larger Old Philadelphia Historic District, the Avenue of the Arts and Off Broad East Cultural Districts, and the reuse of the former Navy Yard. A 1993 study by the City Planning Commission, Destination Philadelphia, sought to define strategies to improve the physical environment and palette of attractions in areas near the new Pennsylvania Convention Center. The plan's centerpiece is the creation of high-profile, pedestrian- oriented, highly "imagible" visitor districts focused on historical attractions and cultural events. Key components include projects designed by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates for a new Orchestra Hall and new preliminary Master Plan for Independence Mall, as well as a new streetscape for the Avenue of the Arts designed by Kise Franks & Straw. Meanwhile, the city administration and the city planners have devised a reuse plan to create new opportunities for industry on the Navy Yard's 1,400-acre former site.
As the old is blended with the new in the cityscape, there have been a number of superb restorations of some landmark buildings, including the Reading Terminal Shed and the Academy of Music, both designed by Vitetta Group. Other important restorations this decade include the Wanamaker Building, Curtis Publishing Building, and Lit Brothers' department store. Dan Peter Kopple & Associates recently completed the restoration of 30th Street Station. Venturi, Scott Brown restored the widely acclaimed University of Pennsylvania's Fine Arts Library, originally designed by Frank Furness in 1888. And Bower Lewis Thrower and Cope Linder have been chosen to convert the first three floors of the Reading Terminal Head House into a ceremonial entrance for the Pennsylvania Convention Center and a hub for the Market East Station and the new Marriott Hotel (also designed by Bower Lewis Thrower). Future plans call for commercial development of the Head House's upper floors.
Today, AIA Philadelphia boasts nearly 2,000 architects and related professionals as members, and is one of the most active AIA Chapters in the nation.