Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) has purchased a mid-20th-century house designed by Richard Neutra, an international icon of modern architecture known for his role in introducing the International Style into American architecture.
Set on over two acres adjacent to the East Falls Campus, the Hassrick House—which is listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places—will be used as an educational resource for students and faculty, said Barbara Klinkhammer, executive dean of the College of Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).
“The purchase shows the commitment of the University to the design disciplines and College of Architecture and the Built Environment’s commitment to the preservation of modernist architecture,” Klinkhammer said.
In the summers of 2015-2017, Andrew Hart, assistant professor of architecture, led multidisciplinary teams of CABE students to research the history, design, construction, adaptation, restoration, preservation and sustainability of the Hassrick House.
“Students have hailed from all of the CABE areas: interior design, architecture, construction management, sustainability, landscape and GIS at both the graduate and undergraduate level,” Hart said. “The course fits students together as a summer design team and brings in real-world experts, historians and designers to utilize as their consultants.”
Commissioned by Kenneth and Barbara Hassrick in 1958, the property features a restored kitchen with George Nakashima woodwork and a living room with a signature Neutra wall of glass connecting the home to its landscaping and private garden views. The five-bedroom, three-bathroom property also includes a 900-square-foot vaulted solarium/artist studio designed by Philadelphia modernist architect Irwin Stein, a large media room and terraced courtyard. Most of Neutra’s buildings are located on the West Coast, making the Hassrick House a unique property for the East Coast, Klinkhammer said.
“The purchase of the house is a rare opportunity for the University to buy one of the masterpieces of modern architecture and marks the beginning of the new Jefferson era,” Klinkhammer said.
Peter Lloyd Jones, Ph.D., calls the Hassrick House “a perfectly modern symbol of the new Jefferson.”
“What better way to celebrate the combination of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University than by acquiring the Hassrick Residence by Richard Neutra,” said Jones, associate dean of emergent design and creative technologies in medicine at Jefferson and executive director of MEDstudio@JEFF. Jones is friends with Raymond Neutra, son of Richard Neutra, and invited Raymond to be the keynote speaker at the 2014 MEDstudio-curated DesignPhiladelphia symposium “Extreme Collaborations Between Medicine and Design.”
“The Hassrick House is yet another example of how important design is to the future of Jefferson,” said Stephen Spinelli Jr., Ph.D., chancellor of Jefferson.