Prominent Philadelphia architect Dan Peter Kopple dies at 87
Dan Peter Kopple, 87, of Chestnut Hill, a prominent and prolific architect who worked on designs for the Philadelphia International Airport, 30th Street Station, the Penn Center, the American Courthouse on the Independence Mall and other iconic buildings and structures in Philadelphia and elsewhere, died Wednesday, December 15, of congestive heart failure at Brandywine Living at Dresher Estates.
Known for his innovative structural vision and the diversity of his projects, Mr. Kopple has created renovation and original plans for buildings, boulevards, airports, churches, synagogues, rail yards and other constructions. In addition to numerous sites in Philadelphia, his work can be seen in New York; Washington; Pittsburgh; Erie, Pennsylvania; and other places.
His concepts were used at Washington National Airport, now Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport; Central and Park East Synagogues in New York; and the Rotunda and adjacent train stations in Pittsburgh. In the 1980s, he imagined what Philadelphia’s JFK Boulevard might have looked like if a cultural hub and commercial development had been built along the Schuylkill.
In 1998, he won a Philadelphia Chapter Award from the American Institute of Architects for his work on the Frankford Transportation Center. “Architecture is important,” he wrote. “It is both a tool and an expression of civilization. “
Mr. Kopple began his career in 1960 as a project designer with the Vincent G. Kling Partnership, based in Philadelphia, and eventually became a partner and director. He founded Kopple, Sheward & Day in 1975 and DPK & A in 1984.
In 2008, DPK & A merged with Kansas City-based engineering company TranSystems. In 2014, he founded DPK.aia, a consulting firm in strategic planning and architecture.
As the lead architect of the 1998 Philadelphia International Airport redesign, he had to quickly move passengers to their departure gates and get them to linger in the mall for a bit.
“Retailers aim to create turmoil, to do things that slow people down,” Mr. Kopple told The Inquirer in 1998. “Our goal had to be efficiency… [answering] questions like where our treadmill belongs to keep people moving if they need to. “
In 1993, shortly after his company spearheaded a four-year, $ 100 million restoration of 30th Street Station, Mr. Kopple was commissioned to renovate the dark and dirty concourse under the suburban station.
“It is not just a cleaning plan, but to make the whole hall cleaner … so that the entire character of the hall level is improved,” Mr Kopple told the Daily News in 1993.
Born June 10, 1934 in Philadelphia, Mr. Kopple grew up in Elkins Park and met his future wife, Jan MacVaugh, in his sophomore year. As a teenager he became interested in the structure of buildings and was editor of the student newspaper at Cheltenham High School.
He attended Princeton University as an ROTC cadet and obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree in architecture. He joined the Air Force in 1958, married Jan in December before his deployment, and returned to Philadelphia in 1960 after his tour ended.
Mr. Kopple has served on the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Sections of the American Institute of Architects, President of the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni, and President and Director of the Carpenters’ Company of Philadelphia.
“Architecture shouldn’t be taken lightly, but it can often be fun for the user and the producer. “
He served on the committee of the Philadelphia Planning Commission and was a founding member of the Charter High School of Architecture and Design. He and his wife raised their daughters Kim and Kristin in Chestnut Hill.
“He let the others take the limelight,” his wife said. “He promoted me and helped me be the best I can be. He was a wonderful old school gentleman.
Away from his design table, Mr. Kopple regularly attended the Philadelphia Orchestra and read mysteries and biographies. He was interested in European history, urban planning and outer space.
He loved Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas, drew in pen and ink, and painted in watercolors. He was rarely seen without a tie and jacket, and he adored his Labradors.
“He was extremely kind and upbeat,” his wife said. “And he was always ready for anything.”
In addition to his wife and daughters, Mr Kopple is survived by three grandchildren and other family members. A brother died earlier.
The services were private.
Donations in his name can be made to the Carpenters’ Company of Philadelphia, 320 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106.