The Charles Addams Fine Arts Hall

 All Photos by Tommy Leonardi

 Maria C. Romanach Architects, CW '68, gave the 1954 building a new look.

Penn's Graduate School of Fine Arts (GSFA) celebrates the dedication--at last--of a permanent home for the Fine Arts at Penn. Located in the former Skinner Hall, overlooking Walnut Street across from Sansom Common, the state-of-the-art facility has been named The Charles Addams Fine Arts Hall in memory of the former Penn student and world-renowned cartoonist, Charles Addams (1912-1988). The founding gift for the building was made by Lady Barbara Colyton, with additional donors including Fern Karesh Hurst, Harvey and Barbara Kroiz, and others.

All Photos by Tommy Leonardi

Above: The Addams Family in the

Sculpture Court greets visitors.


At Right: A sandblasted glass portrait of the artist

is in the lobby.

The Charles Addams Fine Arts Hall greatly increases GSFA's capacity to expose Penn students, largely undergraduate, to the Fine Arts, providing facilities for 2,500 students per semester--1,000 more than was feasible when the undergraduate Fine Arts program was housed in the temporary Blauhaus. The building supports not only GSFA, but also classes for the Annenberg School for Communications, and the Digital Media Design program, a collaborative offering of SEAS, the Annenberg School, and GSFA.

"With resources for classes that range from digital imaging and graphic design to undergraduate architecture and advanced painting and drawing , there is no more outstanding facility among Penn's peer institutions, nor at any other world-class university, than Charles Addams Fine Arts Hall," said John Moore, GSFA Fine Arts Chair and Guttman Professor. Among its noteworthy facilities are:

 The Digital Video Center: The first and only facility of its kind at Penn, this suite for creating and editing film and video is the keystone of the Digital Media Design program, gives Penn a leading edge in film and video studies and sets a high standard for Penn's competitors.

 The Photography Center: Photography is by far the most sought-after Fine Arts program in the University curriculum with approximately 220 students participating each semester in photography courses that range from beginning photography to photojournalism. The program now has a faculty of eight, compared with a faculty of one in 1995.

The Gutman-Nathan Clay Center: Penn's ceramics program now offers its popular classes in The Gutman-Nathan Clay Center, an extensive facility which includes three student studios that are supported by a clay kiln room, clay-mixing room, glaze making facility, and plaster room. The ceramics program's faculty is comprised of five individuals affiliated with Philadelphia's highly respected Clay Studio.

 The Gates: A juried competition was held to commission newly designed gates at the entrance to the Addams Hall sculpture court from the 36th Street walkway. The winning entry designed by Mark Lueders, MFA'93, of the undergraduate fine arts faculty will adorn the walkway in the spirit of Charles Addams.

The Charles Addams Gallery: It is fittingly ironic that the exhibition, Charles Addams at Penn--organized by the Architectural Archives--is now in the gallery bearing his name--for it was in the same building--then the Faculty Club--that Charles Addams' original cartoons were exhibited in November 1979 with the artist on hand for the opening. Charles Addams was raised in Westfield, NJ, where, as a child, he would explore his grandmother's Victorian mansion whose nooks and crannies later became the mythical home of his signature characters, the members of the Addams Family. After attending Colgate, 1929-30, he transferred to Penn, 1930-31, because he wanted to take art courses. The year at Penn turned out to be first-year architecture instead of art, so the following year he attended the Grand Central School of the Arts in New York. He returned to Penn in 1980 to receive an honorary degree, Doctor of Fine Arts.

All Photos by Tommy Leonardi

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 28, April 3, 2001