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Creating A Comprehensive New Master Plan for Penn Museum

The Penn Museum announced the appointment of renowned British architect David Chipperfield to develop a comprehensive new master plan to take the Museum, its complex historical building, and its international research, collections and educational outreach into the 21st century.

Mr. Chipperfield was selected following an international search by a committee composed of representatives of the Museum’s Board of Overseers and staff, the School of Design and Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services.

“The Penn Museum is one of the great treasures of the University, the city of Philadelphia, the region, and the world,” said President Amy Gutmann. “More than a century since its grand building first opened in 1899, now is an appropriate and exciting time to re-envision the Museum—and to do so with an architect of such international stature.”

“Museology, anthropological research, and collections management practices have all changed radically since the Museum’s first, grand-scale master plan of the 1890s,” noted Dr. Richard M. Leventhal, Williams Director of the Museum. “In the last decade, we’ve made enormous progress responding to long-term collections care needs and taking the first steps toward eventual Museum-wide air conditioning.  The time is right for a building master plan that lets us take advantage of our internationally renowned research, world-class collections and firm commitment to education in new, synergistic ways. David Chipperfield’s experience, philosophy and comprehensive planning approach can help us move forward.”

London- and Berlin-based David Chipperfield Architects has won some of Europe’s most prestigious commissions, including the master plan for Museum Island and the restoration of the Neues Museum in Berlin. His U.S. projects include the recently announced expansion of the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa; and the Anchorage Museum of History and Art. This will be his first Philadelphia-area project.

The master planning that Mr. Chipperfield enters into with Penn and the Museum will be an intensive, year-long process that re-considers museum space in light of current and future objectives. The final plan, which will include strategies for implementation, will provide a holistic vision for the Museum, a blending of new and old building elements to accommodate state-of-the-art exhibitions and research work, and to inspire scholars, students, and the general public.

Chipperfield Architects will be partnering locally with Atkin Olshin Lawson-Bell Architects (architects of the Mainwaring Wing) and landscape architects Olin Partnership (architects of the Trescher Main Entrance garden, and master planners for Penn). Keast & Hood Structural Engineers and Marvin Waxman Engineers (experienced working in Penn Museum), and cost consultant Davis Langdon round out the team.

From 1994 to 2004, under the leadership of Dr. Jeremy Sabloff, the Museum responded to concerns about long-term collections management by building the $17 million Mainwaring Wing which opened in 2002. In May 2005, the Museum completed phase one of Project F.A.R.E. (Future Air Conditioning, Renovation and Expansion); 20,000 additional square feet of museum space—with adequate room for an eventual air-conditioning system—was constructed underneath the Upper Courtyard garden, which was refurbished and reopened. In the summer of 2005, Atkin Olshin Lawson-Bell Architects completed an Historic Structures Report made possible by the Heritage Philadelphia Program and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.



  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 12, November 15, 2005


November 15, 2005
Volume 52 Number 12


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