An ongoing construction project is transforming a campus landmark.
The $26.9 million George A. Weiss Pavilion project, slated for completion in the spring of 2010, is revamping the north side of Franklin Field, adding retail space, an intercollegiate strength and weight training center and the Robert A. Fox Fitness Center for general University use. The project is part of the Penn Connects land use and urban design plan.
The Weiss Pavilion project is the first step in the transformation of the stretch of campus between the engineering buildings on the western side of 33rd Street and the planned parks and recreation fields close to the Schuylkill River, says Mark Kocent, principal planner in the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services.
The project will renovate 51,200 square feet of space and will add glass windows in the Franklin Field archways. The lowest level will feature the strength and weight training center, with areas dedicated to stretching and weight training, as well as space for coaches to conduct cardio, flexibility and speed drills.
During construction, Kocent says crews uncovered the city street that ran along the original base of Franklin Field. They dug out the fill, and as a result, the design team was able to give the strength and weight training center an additional 25,000 square feet of space.
Along the walkway level, Penn is constructing retail shops and a two-story fitness center that will be open to the entire University community.
“The intercollegiate weight room will quadruple the size of the existing space and provide state-of-the-art equipment for our student athletes to train and condition,” says Steve Bilsky, director of Penn Athletics. “The new fitness center will enhance workout options and programs and complement the existing Pottruck Center on the west end of campus.”
Kocent says the long narrow shape of the space is challenging. “From an ideal perspective, [the Athletic Department] would have a rectangle for the center,” Kocent says. “The upside is, it’ll be a totally unique facility [that’s] built into a historical building.”
Once the Weiss Pavilion project is completed next year, the adjacent Lott Tennis Courts will be moved closer to the Schuylkill River to be replaced by a large public plaza. This open space, Shoemaker Green, will be bordered by The Palestra and David Rittenhouse Laboratories, and will be half the size of College Green.
Originally published on July 2, 2009