Sam Olshin '78 is a principal at the firm of Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, and is responsible for the restoration of the Metropolitan Opera House in Philadelphia. His firm is also responsible for recent renovations to Friends Select School's lower level and the Blauvelt Theatre.
After graduating Friends Select, Olshin attended the University of Pennsylvania for both undergraduate and graduate school. Below is an excerpt of Olshin's recent interview with The Power of Penn:
Let's talk about your work on the Metropolitan Opera House. What state was the building in when your first started working?
The finishes were worn out, the windows were broken, much original plasterwork was gone, the roof was shot. It had been vandalized, and every bit of copper had been stolen. There were no more mechanical systems in place, but the structure was still solid. It was built out of solid reinforced concrete and had these amazing roof trusses that kept it from collapsing after years of water damage. It had what we architects would call “good bones.”
What was a challenge you faced when restoring this historic venue?
One major issue was the restoration of plaster detailing after so much water damage. We couldn’t preserve it like we wanted, but we did laser scanning of the decorative plaster detailing, and we were able to recreate the look. When you go in now, you see a complete recreation of all the historic plaster that was there. We used new technology to copy it, then old-world craftsmanship to do the elaborate work and join the plaster together.