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The Music Building, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States

Tuesday 22 Jun 2010

University scales up

© 2010 David Lamb Photography 
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New Music Building at Penn bridges gap between historic and contemporary design 

Ann Beha Architects’ design for the Music Building Renovation and Addition at the University of Pennsylvania creates a new center for music education on Penn’s historic campus. The project began with the careful restoration and renovation of the landmark Music Building - originally built in 1890 as an orphanage for girls - restoring its original colors and monumentality by preserving the original windows, masonry, ornamental wooden roof brackets and overhang, and the historic porch entry.

Equivalent in size to the existing building, the addition has been designed to respond to the materiality, rhythm and proportions of the historic façades by introducing an articulated terracotta rain-screen system, generous expanses of glass, horizontal sun shades, and a metal cornice corresponding to the broad roof overhang. Internally, the open circulation on each level frames the restored historic east façade, and the building offers social spaces which view the newly created Music terrace and campus beyond. The addition, with its cast-in-place concrete super structure, accommodates the Music Department’s most acoustically sensitive spaces, including practice rooms, recording studios, classrooms, and faculty offices. The building provides enhanced acoustics and sound isolation in teaching and rehearsal spaces, and state-of-the-art audio / visual technology to support instruction and research.

Ann Beha Architects’ intention, from the outset of design, was to create a single building that establishes a dialogue between old and new, and displays the activity of music-making to the greater University community. The site design creates a new campus walkway with an outdoor terrace connecting the Engineering Green to the University’s busy 34th Street. This terrace and new adjacent Campus Green extend the University’s landscape tradition, linking to the historic pedestrian core of the campus and providing communal green space shared by the University. This project integrates multiple sustainable design elements and will be the first LEED Silver building on the historic campus.

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Ann Beha Architects

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