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Frank Weise first acquired the building at 307 S. Chadwick Street in 1954. Originally a horse stable, the building underwent continuous construction and renovations, eventually rising an additional twenty feet to its current height. Although never completed, the building served as Weise’s home, office and “laboratory” until his death in 2003.
The building was restored 2004-2008 by Weise’s daughter, Andrea Hemmann, and her husband, Mark Gallini. GHI Design occupies Weise’s former office on the lower levels, and an extraordinary multi-level rental apartment above overlooks the city.
Brooklyn, NY, native Frank Weise (born Frank Weiss) moved with his family to Philadelphia at a young age. After graduating from Simon Gratz High School in the city, Weise studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He distinguished himself as a student, completing a B. Arch. with honors in 1942, and winning awards in freehand drawing and a first medal from the Beaux Arts Institute of Design his final year. After completing his degree, he worked briefly in the office of George Howe and Louis I. Kahn, where he contributed to several of the war housing projects in the office. Weise went on to Harvard, completing an M. Arch. in 1945. That same year, he studied design at the progressive and experimental Black Mountain College, in Black Mountain, NC.
After World War II, Weise was based in Chicago, IL, working on the planning of Michael Reese Hospital under Reginald Isaacs followed by architectural work at the office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. In 1949, while in the office of Loebl, Schlossman & Bennett, he worked on the design of Park Forest, IL, a residential and commercial development intended for returning GI’s and their families.
Weise returned to Philadelphia around 1949 and established his own office. In the early 1960s he led a group of the city’s architects in an effort to redesign the proposed path of Interstate 95 through one of the oldest parts of Philadelphia along the Delaware River. Weise’s group succeeded in having a portion of the highway depressed below street level, retaining some access from the city to the riverfront.
Weise was involved in a number of other important architectural and cultural projects in the city. In the 1970s, Weise’s projects included the restoration and renovation of Head House Square in the Society Hill neighborhood. In the 1980s, he worked on the question of adapting John Haviland’s landmark Eastern State Penitentiary. Weise was among the founders of the city’s Wilma Theater and the Theater of the Living Arts.
Weise taught at a variety of institutions, including the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and the Moore School of Art and the Philadelphia Museum College of Art.
Biography from the American Architects and Buildings database Written by Emily T. Cooperman.