Additions to existing buildings are faced with the difficulty of balancing historical respect with contemporary values and expression. Rarely is it pulled off as sensitively and carefully as the University of Pennsylvania’s new Music Building. Ann Beha Architects answered some questions about the new building and renovation for the school.
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?
This project was an invited competition set up by the University. Architect selection was awarded through a two-stage process, beginning with an invitation to submit Qualifications, followed by a Design Competition for five short-listed firms. The competition submittals included a proposal, fee and a series of design studies for the project site. ABA’s proposal presented three conceptual options developed with similar values in mind and weighed the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Can you describe your design process for the building?
From the outset of design, this project was about creating a dialogue between old and new. Our design process began with a parallel review of the program, the historic building and its site. The program was defined, with an emphasis on its acoustic requirements, the project goals for sustainability, and design excellence.
A dialogue was developed thorough investigation of the existing building, the context, and past and present circumstances. The design began with an investigation of the original buildings to set the standard for adjacent design by analyzing the façade and massing organization, setting datum lines, proportions, heights and configurations, as a framework for the exterior design expression. Ultimately, our design process was a rigorous understanding of the existing building and the new program which compelled the addition to be both complementary and transformative.
How does the completed building compare to the project as designed? Were there any dramatic changes between the two and/or lessons learned during construction?
Because of the historic nature and location of this building, the project was the subject of numerous reviews from University, local and State design and historic review authorities. To build consensus and gain approval, we intensively studied the building three-dimensionally: perspective sketches, physical and digital models of the project, the site, the building, and its components. These studies, as well as construction mock-ups for the restoration and addition, ensured that the final result was as close to the intended design as possible.
Still, working with existing buildings always produces contingencies during construction, and these can threaten to change the design in unexpected ways. When unforeseen conditions arose, solutions which were delivered quickly and considered all the related implications resulted in minimal changes to the design.
The final exterior design deploys a custom colored terra cotta rain screen. Budget required some limitation of the fin system, but this simplification was a plus, in the end. There were some design limits on the interior (choices of doors and amount of open interior glass) to achieve exemplary acoustic performance.
▼现场平面图 Site Plan
How does the building compare to other projects in your office, be it the same or other building types?
ABA’s projects are typically for academic, cultural and civic institutions; and many of the projects involve transformations of existing, and often historically significant, buildings.
We feel that this project is one of the most complete responses to an existing building that our office has completed. Considering that the project doubles the size of the existing building, it is really not an addition but rather an entirely new structure with a two part composition—the 19th century building and the new building.
▼项目分布 Program Distribution
How does the building relate to contemporary architectural trends?
Re-using an existing building is one of the most sustainable practices possible. According to National Trust for Historic Preservation, even if an existing building were replaced by a new energy-efficient building, it would take 35-50 years to compensate for the embodied energy.
By re-using the historic Music Building, salvaging demolished building materials for re-use, improving energy efficiency of the existing building envelope, and using energy and water efficient systems, this project will become the first LEED Silver building on Penn’s historic campus.
▼建筑分析 Building Analysis
在音乐建设项目的同时，我们还正设计两个项目，整合了历史建筑和重要的新建筑：The Carl A. Fields Center for Equality 和Cultural Understand at Princeton University。
Are there any new/upcoming projects in your office that this building’s design and construction has influenced?
We were designing two projects that integrated historic structures and significant new construction at the same time as the Music Building project: The Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understand at Princeton University, and the Nulman Lewis Student Center at The Wheeler School.
There is a great deal of cross referencing in the design ideas for these projects, but each is fundamentally different.