Penn Celebrates ‘Reinvigorated’ ARCH, A New Hub For Student Life

On Thursday, Feb. 6, the Penn community gathered to celebrate the re-opening of the ARCH, Penn’s Arts, Research, and Culture House.

The open house marked the completion of a $24.5 million renovation transforming the historic late-Gothic Revival building at 3600 Locust Walk into what President Amy Gutmann called a “welcoming and central hub for all students to meet and share ideas” and a “beacon of undergraduate cultural and research life.”

The ARCH is home to three cultural resource centers: La Casa Latina, Makuu: The Black Cultural Center and the Pan-Asian American Community House. These student-focused centers share the building with the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF). The renovated space also includes new meeting rooms, high-tech classrooms, and a performance space, as well as new lounges, a new café, comfortable study spaces, and a multi-use auditorium/classroom. 

Gutmann said the renovated building presents new opportunities for the exchange of ideas.

“At Penn we are inspired by working and learning together with others. Nowhere on any college campus anywhere in the United States is that ideal more elegantly realized that in the new ARCH,” Gutmann said.

Considered by many familiar with the ARCH to be a home away from home, the reimagined building provides ample space for collaboration and exploration and greater access to the cultural resource centers and CURF.

President Gutmann was joined at the celebration by Provost Vincent Price and Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum. Gutmann thanked major donors to the project, noting that the ARCH restoration represents the culmination of a core achievement of Penn’s Making History Campaign.

“Revitalizing and renewing this building has been one of our highest priorities,” said Gutmann. “What a wonderful gift for our students now and for generations to come. The ARCH is not just restored—it is reinvigorated, it’s a building for the ages.”

The celebration included free food inspired by the ARCH’s new Tortas Frontera café, which brings renowned Chicago chef Rick Bayless’ Mexican dining concept to campus, and entertainment by the student performing arts groups Onda Latina, African Rhythms, Penn Lions, Penn Atma, and Penn Dure, as well as a cookbook giveaway and book signing by Bayless.

Additional information on the ARCH at Penn: ARCH Renovation News Release


Text by Amanda Mott
Photos by Peter Tobia and Stuart Watson
Video by Rebecca Abboud