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[Travel Sketches, 1928-29]
(Norman N. Rice, architect, 4/8/1929)
Norman N. Rice Collection, Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania.
Local ID #: aaup.021.8
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Born: 3/17/1903, Died: 12/1/1985

Classmate, colleague, and longtime friend of Louis I. Kahn, Norman Rice was born in Philadelphia. He graduated from Central High School and studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania with Kahn, where they both earned a B.Arch. degree in 1924. During his senior year, Rice served as a teaching assistant in graphics. After graduation, he worked as a draftsman and designer with a number of Philadelphia firms, including Paul Cret, John Molitor, Zantzinger, Borie & Medary and Tilden, Register & Pepper, and also worked with Kahn on the Sesquicentennial Exposition while both were in Molitor's office. In part because of the frustrations of the experience of watching city corruption in action, by 1928 Rice was by his own account "disillusioned [and] inclined to quit architecture" and left the United States "eager to see great European buildings everyone imitated." After traveling widely in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Rice landed in the Paris office of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, working there with Jose Luis Sert, among others, between 1929 and 1930. Rice returned to Philadelphia in 1931, revitalized by his exposure to Le Corbusier, and joined the firm of Howe & Lescaze during the seminal PSFS Building project.

In 1932, Rice established an independent practice in Center City Philadelphia that lasted for some fifty years. He was very active in the profession, serving as a director of the Philadelphia Chapter of the AIA in 1953-55 and 1962-63, its vice-president in 1958-59, and president in 1960-61. He led the Pennsylvania Society of Architects in 1964-66, and subsequently chaired its commission on Architectural Design. In 1971, he was named to the Pennsylvania State Art Commission, and remained on it until 1980. Rice joined the national AIA in 1945 and was made a fellow in 1964.

Rice returned to Penn as a teacher in 1963, continuing there until 1977; he co-taught a Master's studio with Kahn and Robert Le Ricolais until Kahn's death in 1974. Rice also taught at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art in the 1950s.

Written by Emily T. Cooperman.

Clubs and Membership Organizations

  • Pennsylvania Society of Architects
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • Philadelphia Chapter, AIA

School Affiliations

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Central High School
  • Philadelphia Museum College of Art

 

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