The goal of the project was to treat all of the site’s historic fabric with the utmost respect while introducing contemporary design and modern building system components.
The Arts, Research and Cultural House (The ARCH) was originally opened in 1929 to serve the privately-managed Christian Association. The 32,000 SF building was acquired by The University of Pennsylvania in the mid-1990s and currently houses three cultural resource centers: La Casa Latina, The Black Cultural Center (MAKUU), and the Pan-Asian American Community House (PAACH). Listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, the building recently underwent a $24.5 million restoration and expansion, breathing new life into this late-Gothic Revival Structure. The goal of the project was to treat all of the site’s historic fabric with utmost respect while introducing contemporary design and modern building system components.
Urban performed innovative design efforts for the building’s new HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, and electrical systems, as well as the exterior civil engineering. The limited space within the building made it particularly challenging to incorporate the new building systems within a historic structure not originally designed to accommodate these new systems and the space they require. Additional challenges included low noise level requirements, tight construction schedule, and detailed historical restoration effort.
Urban’s innovative design efforts produced a result that was functional and aesthetically pleasing. Sustainable features include low-flow plumbing, multi-occupant thermal comfort control, LED lighting, lighting occupancy sensors, ENERGY-STAR-rated appliances, and green power RECs.
The renovation and expansion produced larger, modernized offices, an interactive teaching-learning environment with upgraded technology systems, an indoor café, lounge seating, common living room, gallery space, and an outdoor terrace along Locus Walk. The building achieved LEED Silver certification and was awarded the 2015 Grand Jury Award for Preservation Achievement by The Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.