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Launching Project F.A.R.E.

University of Pennsylvania Museum section cut-through of the new mechanical room and support spaces that will go beneath the Museum's Warden Garden. 

Digging has become a familiar occurrence--and not by the Museum's archaeologists--at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (UPM). Almost five months to the day after opening the new Mainwaring Wing for collections storage and study and the new Stoner Courtyard and garden (Almanac April 30, 2002), UPM is once again breaking ground on a long-awaited, multi-million dollar Museum project that will ultimately provide air-conditioning, electrical and mechanical upgrades, a restored upper courtyard (Warden Garden), and new and renovated laboratories in the century-old building.

A ground-breaking ceremony for Phase One (a $10 million phase) of project F.A.R.E.--the Museum's Future Air-conditioning, Renovation, and Expansion Project--took place on October 3, in the Museum's Warden Garden. Attendees included President Judith Rodin, Museum Director Dr. Jeremy A. Sabloff, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Museum staff and members of the Museum's Board of Overseers, including Dr. Charles K. Williams, II, whose $16 million leadership contribution to the Museum's ongoing $55 million Campaign for the 21st Century, made the first phase of this project possible.

Project F.A.R.E. plans call for the temporary excavation of the garden, and the reflecting pool, to make room for a massive underground mechanical and electrical equipment room. The new, 8,000 square foot room will house the air handling unit that will serve the oldest (1899) section of the building, and a new electrical switchgear which will ultimately serve the balance of the Museum complex (with the exception of the new Mainwaring Wing). In addition, the Museum will be connected to the University's campus-wide chilled water loop.

Besides creating the space for updated air and electrical service, Phase One of the project will also construct significant new shell space under the courtyard and surrounding the equipment room. That space, to be completed in subsequent phases as funding is secured, will ultimately provide the Museum with improved scientific laboratories, archival and office spaces, and public spaces.

Phase One, projected to take 18 months, will be completed when the reflecting pool and Warden Garden courtyard are restored. Landscapers will refresh the 103-year-old garden space--long a favorite of Museum visitors--taking their cue from the original plans of the Museum's principal first architect, Wilson Eyre.

The F.A.R.E. project will be managed by Penn's Facilities Services department. The design team is led by Marvin Waxman Consulting Engineers, Inc. They performed the feasibility study several years ago that led up to the initiation of this project. They are joined by Dagit/Saylor Architects, Keast & Hood Co. and Mulhern Consulting Engineers and Associates. Hillspring Landscape Architecture in conjunction with Christopher Allen/Julie Regnier rounds out the team.

"The University of Pennsylvania Museum building is an architectural treasure that stands out in a city of architectural treasures," said Dr. Sabloff, the Williams Director. "Its age, however, and the sheer monumentality of its design, often make it a challenge to maintain. With this first phase of Project F.A.R.E.--a major, complex project that is expected to take ten years to complete--we begin creatively meeting the challenge, and the opportunity, to make our grand but aging Victorian-era building an asset to researchers and the public alike."

"The air-conditioning and renovation project of the Museum is a welcome and essential step for the Museum's multiple audiences and the University community," said Dr. Rodin. "The University and the Museum have always been fortunate to have leaders like Charles Williams with the foresight, and the generosity, to help make our finest visions realities."

"It is most certainly inspiring to see this project begin," said Mr. John C. Hover, II, Chairman of the Museum's Board of Overseers. "Dr. Williams, who is Chairman of the new Campaign for the 21st Century, and I have been proud to serve on the Museum's Board of Overseers. We have ambitious plans for this Museum, plans that will have wide-reaching, lasting benefit through research, education, and beauty--the beauty and grandeur that is the University of Pennsylvania Museum and its extraordinary collections."

To date the Museum has raised more than $31 million towards its five-year, $55 million Campaign for the 21st Century, which began in the spring of 2000. Funds from the campaign will go towards the F.A.R.E. facilities upgrade project, estimated to cost more than $30 million over ten years, as well as UPM research and field projects, collections, and public outreach. For more information about the Campaign, contact Suzanne Becker, director of UPM development, at (215) 898-4031, or by e-mail at beckers@


(From left to right) Mr. John C. Hover, II, UPM Board Chair; Museum Director Jeremy Sabloff; City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell; President Judith Rodin, and donor Dr. Charles Williams, II, dutifully pick up shovels at Thursday's ceremonial groundbreaking for the Museum's dig of its own.  As President Rodin said, "to quote ConEd, ‘Dig We Must'" and so they did.

  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 7, October 8, 2002