Graduate Architecture

Posted January 18, 2017
  • From a video interview with graduating PennDesign students, 2016

Talking Design with Charlette Caldwell (MSHP'16)

Alumna Charlette Caldwell is a Project Manager at the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. She came to PennDesign after studying architecture at Syracuse University and working for a year building 3D models for a construction company.

Favorite book or movie about art/design?

Hands down, the documentary Helvetica.

If you could go backward or forward in time, what era would you choose and why?

I’ve always had a fascination with the turn of the 20th century. I think it would have been great to see how different the world was before we developed nation states and went through a world war. I also would like to travel forward in time to the 2260s, the time period Star Trek (the original series) is set in, just because I really love Star Trek

Design hero, living or dead?

Norma Merrick Sklarek. She was the first African American woman to be licensed as an architect in the states. Although I see myself taking on a different path for the future, it’s great having role models in my field who look like me and have experienced the same things I have.

What do you miss most about your time at PennDesign?

I miss the courses taught at Penn. I was fortunate enough to take a wide variety of classes from most of the departments outside of the historic preservation program, so I miss being able to sit in on those and hear different opinions about architectural design and preservation.

What was your longest day on campus?

Right before my group needed to turn in a drawing set for one of our foundation course’s final review. We all worked together to make sure we had one person finalizing the drawings, one person running down stairs to retrieve the drawings, and other people looking over any mistakes.

What’s been your favorite professional project so far?

The project I’m currently working on for the Preservation Alliance. A Better Philadelphia is allowing me the opportunity to do what I like the most about the education I received from Penn: advocating for protection of historic buildings, while also working to preserve the character of a place—be it new construction, adaptation, or conservation.

What’s your favorite place in Philly?

Right now, it’s the area next to Washington Square. There are currently issues with development and some historic buildings are on the docket to be demolished, but I try to make it over there as much as possible to appreciate the Jeweler’s Row area as it presently is.

Pretzel or cheesesteak?

Depends on the day, so today I’m going to say Cheesesteak.