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The Spirit of Campus Past
Abstract

Abstract:

The McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, built in 2005, is a modern example of a revival style, in this case, Federal. Revival styles were common on American campuses, including Penn, until the 1950s, and the McNeil Center is an example of a return to this tradition. Designed by Robert A. M. Stern, the building refers to the early home of the university’s Medical Department designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe in 1806. The design also includes motifs drawn from the work of Louis I. Kahn. The connections to the nineteenth-century home of the university, to the red-brick traditions of Philadelphia, and to two of the cities’ great architects—Latrobe and Kahn—combine to make this little brick building a rich exercise in historic memory—and historical reinvention.