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A New Home for Music at Penn
April 27, 2010, Volume 56, No. 31


Musician Chris Coyle performs in classroom 101, a room suited for classes, guest lectures and small recitals. The room’s wood flooring was reclaimed from a barn in Connecticut, adding to the building’s sustainable features.

On Friday, April 16, the Department of Music hosted an Open House to celebrate the opening of the newly renovated Music Building. The building, designed in 1890 by Cope & Stewardson Architects, is listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. 

Originally the Foulke and Long Institute for Orphan Girls, it was established as a home for the orphaned children of soldiers who served in the Civil War. 

In 1899, Penn acquired the Institute’s two buildings and converted them for education and research purposes.  Then known as the Morgan Laboratory, the space was home to the Department of Physics until 1954. It was renamed the Development Building and housed the Office of the Vice President for Development and Public Relations. In 1966, an addition was constructed to unite the two buildings (Wright and Gane, Architects) and to renovate it for the use of the Department of Music.

Ann Beha Architects of Boston designed the current renovation and expansion, which includes a contemporary addition that doubles the size of the original structure. The interior features three fully-equipped classrooms (which also accommodate performances), practice rooms, offices, and a recording studio.  The primary feature of the building is its robust acoustical performance. The concrete structure of the building, interior partitions, and new floor, wall, ceiling and window systems achieve the necessary acoustic isolation required by a state of the art music program. 

The building also represents a milestone in Penn’s sustainability efforts by becoming the first academic building on campus to achieve a LEED Silver Certification. Utilizing sustainable building practices, recycled building materials and furnishings, abundant natural light and energy-efficient systems, it will also minimize water use and be maintained with a “green” housekeeping program.  Existing brick, bluestone and terra cotta were restored, or salvaged from the demolished part of the building and re-used. 

The structure was selected to achieve a 2010 Preservation Achievement Grand Jury Award by the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. “The design, combining stewardship of an important historic structure with the creation of a distinguished contemporary addition perfectly exemplifies the University’s long-standing tradition of building the new while caring for the old,” said Anne Papageorge, vice president for facilities and real estate services.

Engineering student William Dib utilizes a practice room.

Ann Beha, who spoke at the reception, said that her intention was to, “build something contemporary that has a dialogue with history” and to make the space, “deliberately transparent” so that the Department of Music’s activities are accessible and visible to the campus community. To achieve this, the exterior stonework and windows were cleaned and restored to bring back their original historic beauty and large expanses of glass and angled walls were created to offer views to and from walking paths on campus.

“The Music Building is now one of the anchors of a vibrant humanities corridor at the heart of the Penn campus,” said Dean of Arts and Sciences Rebecca Bushnell. “The entire University community looks forward to the Music Department thriving in this wonderful new space for many years to come.” 

Associate Dean for Arts and Letters and Chair of the Department of Music Jeffrey Kallberg, and University Architect David Hollenberg also gave remarks at the open house, which was followed by musical performances by Penn students.









Photos: Andrea Tursi


Almanac - April 27, 2010, Volume 56, No. 31