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The Life and Work of Architect Poldi Hirsch (Virtual Talk)

August 19 @ 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm

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This presentation will examine the life and work of Harford County architect Poldi Hirsch, AIA, looking at her career as a female architect in Maryland during the 1960s, her design philosophy and influences, and her principal works. Born in Germany in 1926, Poldi Hirsch was one of several European-born or trained architects who practiced in Maryland during the postwar period. Educated in Israel and Switzerland, Hirsch immigrated to the U.S. with her husband and children in 1953, eventually settling in Havre de Grace, where she established an architectural practice. Hirsch focused on residential design, including multi-family apartment buildings and single-family dwellings, and her work in Havre de Grace reflects West Coast and European approaches to modernism tempered with an awareness of the social dimension of residential design. The biography of Poldi Hirsch, who struggled to establish her career in Havre de Grace despite her talent and European architectural training, is a testament to the perseverance of women architects, and illustrates the progress made by women for greater gender equality during the twentieth century.

The presentation will focus particularly on the Hirsch Family Residence in Havre de Grace, which was designed by Poldi Hirsch and constructed in 1969-1970. The Hirsch Residence is one of the significant modernist residences designed by Poldi Hirsch in Havre de Grace during the 1960s that embodies the core tenets of the Modern Movement. Hirsch, and her physician husband, Gunther Hirsch, sought to provide a healthier living environment for families through a merger of public health and design, and her residential designs feature ample natural daylighting, spatial organization attuned to the needs of working families, and a merger of the indoor and outdoor experience. The Hirsch Residence displays all of these characteristics, and its sleek modernist lines, exterior of California Redwood and locally quarried stone, and non-traditional fenestration stand apart from other houses in Havre de Grace constructed during the same period. This presentation will highlight the research and documentation undertaken by EHT Traceries during the preparation of a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Hirsch Residence. The documentation, prepared through the Historic Preservation Non-Capital Grant program awarded to BAF by the Maryland Historical Trust, builds upon the Multiple Property Documentation Form Women in Maryland Architecture, 1920-1970, presented in Session 1.

 

About the presenter

John Gentry is Senior Architectural Historian at EHT Traceries, Inc., a historic preservation consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from DePaul University and a Masters in Historic Preservation from the University of Maryland, College Park. As an architectural historian and cultural resource management professional, John is experienced in researching, documenting, and assessing historic buildings and landscapes. He has successfully listed individual properties and districts in the National Register of Historic Places and local landmark registries in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and several other U.S. states. In addition, he has completed numerous compliance-driven survey and documentation projects for government agencies, architects, and developers. John is a member of the Latrobe Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians and the D.C. Preservation League.

 

About this event

This program is hosted on Zoom. Upon registering you will receive an email confirmation and a Zoom link. If you do not receive a link, please contact mstella@aiabalt.com. If you do not contact us at least 1 hour prior to the start of the program, we cannot guarantee admittance.

The Baltimore Architecture Foundation (BAF) and Baltimore Heritage present the Virtual Histories Series: 30 minute live virtual tours and presentations focusing on Baltimore architecture, preservation and history. Hosted every Friday at 1:00 pm EST.

Tickets are donation based. We encourage you to give what you can to support BAF and Baltimore Heritage. Your support helps us make up for lost tour and program revenue from COVID-19 and create more virtual programs like this.