Curator and Collections Manager
William Whitaker is the curator and collections manager of the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. Trained as an architect and architectural historian at the University of New Mexico and the University of Pennsylvania, Whitaker primarily works on documenting and interpreting Penn’s design collections, including holdings related to the of life and work of architect Louis I. Kahn and landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, as well as that of the husband and wife design team of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.
He has organized and co-curated over 30 exhibitions, including retrospectives on Antonin and Noemi Raymond (2006), Wharton Esherick (2008), and Anne Griswold Tyng (2011) and served as the director of research for the landmark retrospective, Out of the Ordinary: The Architecture and Design of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown & Associates, organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2001, and as curatorial consultant for Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture, a major exhibition of the architect's work organized by the Vitra Design Museum in 2012; currently on world tour with venues in Rotterdam, Oslo, London, Taipei and San Diego. Most recently he co-curated "Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966-71" (with Sarah Herda and Ellen Alderman; 2014) for the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts as well as "Venturi's Grandmother: Patterns for Production" for the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia (with Kathryn Heisinger & others; 2014).
Whitaker has co-authored: The Houses of Louis I. Kahn (Yale University Press, 2013) with George Marcus, the first comprehensive study of the architect’s house designs, and is also a co-editor of Crafting a Modern World: The Architecture and Design of Antonin and Noemi Raymond (Princeton Architectural Press, 2006) with Kurt Helfrich.
He has lectured on a wide range of subjects related to twentieth century architecture, landscape, and community design in the greater Philadelphia region, to audiences in the United States, Canada, Germany and India.
Public Lectures & Study Tours, 2013-
“Vinyl, Plexiglas, & Neon: Venturi, Scott Brown’s Transformation of St. Francis de Sales – a revealing history & conversation,” with Denise Scott Brown, Father John McNamee, and Sue Weiller, Philadelphia Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, 7 May 2015.
“The Heroes & Misfits of Philadephia’s Architectural Modernism,” Center for Architecture, Philadelphia, May 5, 2015
“The Built Environment: Resources for the Next 75 Years,” roundtable discussion with Dianne Harris, Abby Smith Rumsey, Ann Whiteside, and Tamar Zinguer, Annual meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians, Chicago, 17 April 2005.
“Louis Kahn Contemporary,” Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, 29 March 2015.
“Louis Kahn Contemporary,” Akshara Foundation, Ahmedabad, Gujerat, India, 3 December 2014.
“Louis Kahn Contemporary: the FDR Four Freedoms Park,” Four Freedoms Park Conservancy for Archtober (Architecture and Design Month), New York, NY, 26 October 2014
“Society Hill Modernism: Architecture Tour,” DoCoMoMo-US_Philadelphia Chapter, 11 October 2014
“Philadelphia’s Modern Commercial Vernacular Revisited,” FORUM 2014: Pennsylvania Statewide Conference on Heritage, Philadelphia, 18 July 2014
“Louis Kahn: His City and His Houses,” Athenaeum of Philadelphia, 8 May 2014 (with George H. Marcus)
“The Houses of Louis Kahn: Past and Present,” Docomomo_US, New York Chapter, 31 March 2014 (with George H. Marcus)
“The Activist Archivist: Taking the Architecture Archive Outside Itself,” DoCoMoMo_US National Symposium, Houston, Texas, 15 March 2014
“Open Houses: Louis Kahn and his Clients,” panel discussion with Nina Fisher, Larry Korman, Michael Merrill, Margy Meyerson, and Simone Swan, University of Pennsylvania School of Design, 20 February 2014 (organizer and moderator)
“Louis Kahn’s Modernism, 1924-33,” Philadelphia Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians, 12 December 2013 (with George H. Marcus)
“Chestnut Hill’s Modern Architecture: The Ordinary and Extraordinary,” Chestnut Hill Historical Society, 27 October 2013
“Mellor, Meigs, & Howe: An Architectural History in Three Acts,” Lower Merion Conservancy, May 28, 2013
“Building Dhaka: A Conversation with Nathaniel Kahn, Steven Kieran, Fred Langford, Roy Vollmer, Henry Wilcots, and Richard Saul Wurman,” University of Pennsylvania School of Design, 11 May 2013 (organizer and moderator)
“Preserving Philadelphia Modernism: Are We Finally Ready?,” Hidden City Philadelphia, 17 April 2013
“Four Freedoms: Kahn’s Contemporary Design,” panel discussant with Michael Kimmelman, Laurie Olin, Marilyn Jordan Taylor and Marion Weiss, University of Pennsylvania School of Design, 13 March 2013
“Louis Kahn Contemporary,” Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany, 28 February 2013
“Louis I. Kahn and the Gaspésie,” École d’architecture, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada, 25 January 2013