Pennsylvania Academy Of The Fine Arts Honors The 100th Anniversary Of The Passing Of Renowned Philadelphia-Bred Architect Frank Furness With A Special Exhibition Of His Drawings

This year, Philadelphia is celebrating Frank Furness, a legendary locally bred architect who designed many iconic buildings in Philadelphia. Right now, PAFA has his architectural drawings on display. (Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC)

One part Civil War hero, one part architectural adventurer, 100 percent Philadelphian — Frank Furness provides the focus of the current exhibition at PAFA, Building a Masterpiece: Frank Furness’ Factory for Art, part of a citywide celebration of the 100th anniversary of his death.

Locally-born Furness had to fight for more than just the preservation of freedom. Designer of the very building that will house his drawings over the next two months, the architect and his partner George Watson Hewitt had to battle for the architectural title in a competition that resulted in PAFA’s Historic Landmark Building.

Today, the Broad Street building looks like a tribute to forgotten elegance, but 140 years ago, Furness’s design was ahead of its time. The building included plans for electricity before the birth of PECO, while the curtain wall supporting the second-floor galleries would become integral to the construction of modern-day skyscrapers.

On November 7, PAFA visitors can enjoy lunch and a lecture with author George Thomas at “The Poetry of the Present: Understanding Frank Furness,” from noon–1 p.m. Then, on December 13, cocktails and jazz music signal the celebration of Art After Dark: Made in America.

Celebrate 100 years of the 1,000 buildings of Frank Furness, now through December 30.

For more on celebrating Furness in Philadelphia, click here.

Building a Masterpiece: Frank Furness’ Factory for Art at PAFA
When: Now-December 30
Where: 118-128 N. Broad Street
Cost: Adults $15, Seniors and Students $12, Youth $10
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