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Facilities Update
September 2, 2008, Volume 55, No. 2

Renovation, Preservation, Expansion and New Construction: From Academics to Athletics and Recreation

Students have begun moving in to their new apartments at The Radian—the 14-story structure on the 3900 block of Walnut Street; while faculty and staff have returned to Fagin Hall, where the School of Nursing’s Phase 2 renovations were just completed. Numerous other projects around campus have also been underway this summer, including the Mod VII Chiller Plant’s capacity expansion; Hill, Harrison and Rodin College House upgrades; the Palestra’s new center court flooring and classroom renovations.

At the June meeting of the University Trustees, (Almanac July 15, 2008) two of the many resolutions passed authorized these innovative projects—the Music Building and the Franklin Field Pavilion—which will enhance Penn’s campus in the near future.

music bldg, Penn

The current configuration at the Music Building has acoustic inadequacies that will be eliminated by removing a wing and an annex and adding a new three-story addition to the restored building. As School of Arts and Sciences Dean Rebecca Bushnell said at the Trustees’ Facilities Committee Meeting in June, this project is “taking an ugly duckling and turning it into a swan.”

Music Building Renovation and Addition

The renovation and addition to the Music Building begins with a strong commitment to the repair and preservation of the original 1892 building by the architects Cope & Stewardson. The exterior rehabilitation includes restoration of the windows, the brick and terra cotta masonry, and historic features such as the front porch and eave brackets. 

The project, designed by Boston-based Ann Beha Architects, will remove an original wing at the east side of the building and a one-story addition added in the mid 20th century. The two-story Music Annex built in 1967 and a link built between Music and the adjacent Morgan Building will also be demolished. These removals allow for a new addition with more flexible parameters, internal spaces with higher acoustic quality, and an opportunity to face the Towne Building with a contemporary building façade. The three-story terra cotta-clad addition will contain the most acoustically critical spaces of the department, including classrooms, faculty offices, practice rooms and recording studios. The existing Music Building will be renovated to house administrative and faculty offices and core building services. The project promotes sustainability and energy conservation in its design, and it is targeting LEED Silver certification.

The Music Building project includes both a restored urban elevation on 34th Street and a more visible and accessible elevation on the east, while expanding and improving the adjacent campus green which will serve as the foreground for a new campus entry to the Music Building. It will also benefit the Penn community, providing outdoor public amenity space for SEAS in the Towne Building and Vagelos Labs, the School of Design in the Morgan Building, and SAS in Music and Fisher-Bennett Hall—all in this historic pedestrian core of the campus.

The total project area is 25,000 gross square feet (11,300 gross square feet of renovated space and 12,700 gross square feet of new addition) with a total project cost of $15.9 million.

music bldg

The planned, expanded and restored Music Building, viewed from Chancellor Walk. The new Music Building will include a handicap accessible entrance, lobby/interaction area, faculty and graduate student offices, practice/performance rooms, a computer room and classrooms for central pool classroom use. The existing building’s exterior and interior will also be completely restored. Also included is an electrical service upgrade, fire sprinklers for both Music and Morgan Buildings, and other utility and mechanical improvements, including new HVAC, electrical, telephone/data, fire alarm and security systems. Completion is scheduled for December 2009.

Franklin Field, Weight Training and Fitness Center

The objective of this project is to provide a new state-of-the-art Weight Training and Fitness Center within the northern arcade of Franklin Field. The Weight Training facility will serve intercollegiate athletes, while the new Fitness center will expand recreational opportunities for students, faculty and staff. In addition, new retail space will compliment these uses, together adding life and vitality to this future route from campus to Penn Park. The project also includes a new electrical substation and switchgear room to be located in the lower level of the arcade, which will serve this eastern part of the campus.

During the schematic design phase, Crawford Architects’ historic research on the building indicated that the original height of the brick arcaded façade extended one additional level below the existing grade. The decision was made to excavate and expose the first three western bays of this original full height façade to provide a greater understanding of the original design for Franklin Field as well as bring natural light to the lower level of the Weight Training Facility. It also provides the opportunity to create a new entrance on the western end of Franklin Field, directly into the Weight Training Facility which will be visible from 33rd Street. The project will activate this area of campus during the day and evening hours to form an attractive, safe and inviting environment for this growing campus precinct. 

The Weight Training Facility will occupy the lower level in approximately 16,170 net square feet, 3,280 net square feet of retail will face the future Palestra Green. Recreation fitness will occupy 7,645 net square feet on the first and ground floor and mezzanine levels. Future program elements can be accommodated in 11,630 net square feet of available shell space. The combination of excavation and infill is an innovative way to create new usable space in an existing underutilized structure, while not increasing the building’s footprint. The renovation and infill of the north arcade utilizes this historic and iconic structure in a creative and dramatic approach.

The total project area is 56,000 gross square feet and the total project cost is $27.7 million inclusive of the $2 million electrical upgrade.

Franklin Field

The proposed Franklin Field Pavilion project includes a weight training facility and fitness center in the northern arcade, utilizing the upper level now occupied by the University Archives and the Office of the Curator, a new lower level will be excavated, as well as the concourse level, where some of  arches will be infilled with glass, while others will be entrances.

Franklin Field interior

The proposed entryways for athletics (at left) and recreation (at right) will lead to the state-of-the-art weight training facilities for intercollegiate athletics, a new fitness center for students, faculty and staff, as well as new retail space which will be surrounded by landscape improvements. Occupancy is slated for April 2010.


Almanac - September 2, 2008, Volume 55, No. 2