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Paul Beidler - The National Cyclopedia Bio

The National Cyclopedia Of American Biography
New York: James T. White & Company 1952, Page 166-7
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BEIDLER, Paul [Henry], architect, was born in Lehighton, Pa., Oct. 20, 1906, son of Lewis Mark and Edna Alice (Heine) Beidler, grandson of Enos and Barbara Ann (Fretz) Beidler, and great-grandson of John Loos and Anna (Evers) Beidler. His father was a teacher and accountant. After receiving his preliminary education in public schools in Lehighton, Paul Beidler was graduated B.Arch. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1931. Meanwhile, in 1929-30 he was staff architect for the archaeological expedition of the University of Pennsylvania Museum at Meydum, Egypt, in which capacity he was responsible for making measured records of the Meydum pyramid. Following his graduation at the university he rejoined the museum expedition as architect and assistant director on the Tell Billa and Tepe Gawra excavations in Iraq. At the close of the expedition in 1932 he was engaged by the British Museum to complete the records of the crusader’s castle at Athlit in Palestine. He then rejoined the University of Pennsylvania expedition at Minturno, Italy, in 1933, compiling accurate plots of that ancient city. During that period he studied the work of the foremost European architects, including Le Corbusier. He was associated for several months with the Dutch architect, Jan Duiker, working on the Hilversum Sanatorium and the Open Air School in Amsterdam. He returned to the United States in 1934 and for a year was associated with Frank Lloyd Wright (q.v.) in Spring Green, Wis. Then he went to the West Coast, where he continued his training and experience under a number of leading California architects. In 1937 he joined the office of Claude Albon Stiehl in Honolulu, T.H., where his work included designs for the Hawaiian building at the Golden Gate International Exposition. He received his professional registration in 1938 and returned to Pennsylvania, establishing a practice in the Lehigh Valley, with offices in Bethlehem. During six years in that city he became known for his modern residences, outstanding church designs, and industrial work. During the period of the Second World War he designed a number of war industrial plants and emergency war housing units. He moved his office to New York city in 1944. In 1945 he was appointed architectural adviser and visiting lecturer on modern architecture at Black Mountain College. In the following year he moved his offices again, this time to Northeon, a rural studio near Easton, Pa., basing the change on his conviction that a social and economic trend toward decentralization was in progress and that the creative worker met overwhelming obstacles if he lived in an urban area. The name of the organization became Architect Paul Beidler & Colleagues, and he later changed it to Architect Paul Beidler in 1949. His practice is devoted to modern analytical planning and experimentation. Among the many projects which have been developed since the organization of Northeon are a number of buildings incorporating new structural principles and methods. Among them is an eighty-foot house in Easton that is built on one level along the land contours, with no basement and a tar and pebble roof. In one house the roof construction forms a tray for water, evaporation during the summer helping to keep the house cool. In another house in Bucks County the roof slopes to a valley, instead of rising to a ridge, for drainage purposes. One of his most divergent moves from traditionalism is his design for Kirkridge Chapel at Delaware Water Gap, Pa., which has an auditorium measuring 18 by 40 feet with movable altars and seats so that in both morning and evening services worshippers can face away from the sun and see the natural mountaintop surroundings through large windows. A tower stands next to the auditorium for water supply with pools at the base fed by the overflow. About 30 per cent of the work done by Mr. Beidler is industrial and examples of unusual design in non-residential building are the Koch Memorial Forest Theater at the University of North Carolina; Shangri-La honey process plant for Sun-Fed Products, Sarasota, Fla., the Canister Co. factory, Phillipsburg, N.J.; and the General Aniline & Film Company Central Research Laboratory, Easton, Pa. During the winter of 1950-51 Mr. Beidler directed an expedition for the University of Pennsylvania Museum in British Honduras, where his work included making a measured recording of a sculptural frieze on an ancient Mayan structure known as Benque Viejo. In 1939 he developed the first six houses and initiated the idea of a social housing project at Bryn Gwelyn Homesteads in Feasterville, Pa. He has been architectural adviser to the Pendle Hill School, Wallingford, Pa., and Black Mountain College, and chairman of the Williams Township (Pa.) Planning Board. While experimentation and research in architecture has been the primary interest at Northeon, Mr. Beidler has also given encouragement to artists in other fields. At his studio he has sponsored performances by dance groups, including Indonesian and Haitian, and he has provided opportunities for local artists, musicians, and writers to find audiences for their work. He has written a number of articles for professional journals in this country and in France; important among them are “Architecture at Black Moun- tain College” (Design, Apr. 1946) and “College Architecture” (School & Society, Nov. 1947), and two articles published in the French journal, Architecture: “L’Actualité” (July 1947) and “Batiment Industrial Aux Etats-Unis” (Nov.-Dec. 1948). He is a member of the American Institute of Architects, Pennsylvania Society of Architects, Rotary International, American Museum of Natural History, the Explorers Club, and the Saucon Valley Country Club. Politically he is a Republican. Swimming, fishing, and agricultural pursuits are his chief recreations and he has a deep interest in the theater. Mr. Beidler was married in Oakland, Calif., July 9, 1936, to Margaret Frances, daughter of Elmer Daniel Grant, an educator, of Richmond, Ind., and has four children: Jo Ellen, Sue Alice, Peter Grant, and Fran Edna.


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