A Public Discussion to Examine the Tensions and Opportunities between Preservation and Development

An evening of enlightened discussion will focus on how to balance preservation and development in Chestnut Hill in the wake of unprecedented urban expansion there and throughout Philadelphia. Visionaries in the architecture and urban planning fields will lead the dialogue set for Friday, April 21, 2017.

The evening’s conversation will center around four main questions:

  • What is the sense of place in Chestnut Hill?
  • What is the role of development in an established historic community?
  • What is the role of preservation in a growing community?
  • What does public and private green space mean to the urban community character?

Visionaries Roundtable: Preservation and Change in Chestnut Hill will take place at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, in the Upper School Auditorium on the Cherokee Campus located at 8000 Cherokee Street in Philadelphia. This event is presented by the Chestnut Hill Conservancy and commemorates a similar conservation hosted by the organization nearly 50 years ago, when it was known as the Chestnut Hill Historical Society. The 1970 event featured renowned architects Louis Kahn, Robert Venturi, and Romaldo Giurgola – each having designed a significant home in Chestnut Hill.

Remarks by Oscar-nominated director Nathanial Kahn – son of Louis Kahn – will kick off the upcoming event. It will then feature a keynote talk by Witold Rybczynski, Emeritus Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania, architect, architecture critic, and noted author on architecture and the home.

Gail Harrity, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will moderate the roundtable discussion and invite the audience to engage with:

  • David DeLong, Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, author, and architect who worked with Louis Kahn;
  • Bryan Hanes, noted landscape architect and urban planner working on the designs of the Reading Viaduct Rail Park in Philadelphia;
  • Inga Saffron, Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer; and
  • Richard Snowden, managing partner of Bowman Properties overseeing a portfolio of historic residential and commercial buildings in Chestnut Hill.

The April 21 discussion will build upon, and inform, a six-month study that the Chestnut Hill Conservancy, the Chestnut Hill Community Association, and a team of stakeholders and professionals are undertaking through May 2017 to help the community guide future development and protect priorities for watershed land conservation and architectural preservation.

A “Meet the Speakers” fondue and wine reception will begin the evening at 6:00 p.m. in the Sands Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership on the Cherokee Campus of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. The main event will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Upper School Auditorium.

Registration costs $10 for the public, $5 for students, and $40 for the “Meet the Speakers” fondue and wine reception plus main event. Advance registration is required: go to or call 215-247-9329 x 202.

About the Chestnut Hill Conservancy:

The Chestnut Hill Conservancy, formerly the Chestnut Hill Historical Society, founded in 1967, is an educational center and advocate for the architecture, open space and social history of Chestnut Hill and surrounding communities.