University of Pennsylvania
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library – 6th Floor Renovation

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Phase I
Construction Cost: $5.12 million
Building Gross Area: 8,882 sq ft
Completion Date: 2011

Phase II
Construction Cost: $3.8 million
Building Gross Area: 12,600 sq ft
Completion Date: 2013

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Architect: Gensler Architects
Contact: Russ Roncarti
Position: Associate
Telephone #: 214-273-1625

This was a very unique project for several reasons. First and foremost the project was designed around a state of the art glass and steel pavilion that would be the center piece of the space. Web meetings were held every two weeks with the architect to make sure that the architect’s vision was maintained through the shop drawing process. To accomplish the Pavilion the ceiling of the sixth floor needed to be elevated. A new section of roof was installed, than the existing roof was demolished from the inside. As this was happening the balconies had steel erected on them to enclose and extend the 6th floor laterally. Two new air handlers were also installed as well as a fire pump.

The second phase of this project included a monumental staircase, a balcony off the roof that overlooked the city, materials that were imported into the country by P. Agnes and a separate air handler to handle the rare books in the Lea Library.

Approach and Challenges

Being that this project was performed at the University of Penn’s main library there was a noise restriction with loud demolition only to be performed between 6:00 AM and 10:00 AM. There were also several crane lifts that occurred on Locust Walk in front of the Library. Great care was taken to be as safe as possible being that this is UPENN’s main walkway through campus. Being that the finishes were all Eucalyptus panels and the books in the rare books room needed to maintain a certain humidity, temporary air had to be maintained as well.

The most unique part of the monumental staircase is that there is no steel for support. Due to the tight constraints of the ceiling, carbon fiber was designed and applied. Also, as the project was being completed the Rittenhouse Orrery was craned into the building as it had to be installed prior to the project being completed.

Contact Us

For more information, contact us online or call us at 215-755-6900.