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[Photographic Portraits of Giurgola, Mitchell, and M/G Staff]
Rollin LaFrance Collection, Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania.
Local ID #: 342.I.57.a
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Mitchell/Giurgola, one of the most important firms of the "Philadelphia School," was founded in the city by Ehrman B. Mitchell and Romaldo Giurgola in 1958. Both were associated at the time with the architecture and engineering firm of Bellante & Clauss, as was Warren W. Cunningham, who was initially part of their venture. Mitchell, a Pennsylvania native, had earned an architecture degree at the University of Pennsylvania with honors shortly after World War II. In 1951, he joined the firm of Gilboy & O'Malley, which was succeeded by Gilboy, Bellante & Clauss and then by Bellante & Clauss. Giurgola, born in Italy, had first come to the United States to study at Columbia University in 1949-1951. In 1954, he came to Philadelphia to accept the position of assistant professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. One of Mitchell/Giurgola's first commissions, the Wright Brothers' Memorial Visitors' Center at Kill Devil Hills, NC soon attracted critical attention. The firm developed a national and then an international reputation for its projects in the 1960s. In 1966, when Giurgola left Penn to head the department of architecture at Columbia, he established the New York City office of the firm. Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp was established in 1980 in Canberra when the firm won the competition for Australia's Parliament House (followed in 1988 by an office in Sydney, Australia). In 1990, after the retirement of the founding partners, the Philadelphia and New York offices became separate successor firms. The Philadelphia office became MGA Partners, Inc. and the New York office became Mitchell/Giurgola Architects.

Written by Emily T. Cooperman.

 

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