The Evans Building, home to Penn Dental Medicine for one hundred years, is slated for a $34 million reconstruction in the hope of lasting another hundred years.
The reconstruction, dubbed the Evans Building Centennial Renaissance Project, is set to begin this fall and is expected to be completed by January 2017. The project is part of a 10-year strategic plan for the School of Dental Medicine, as envisioned by Dean Denis F. Kinane and the school’s leadership.
In order to preserve the Evans Building’s rich history, the project will retain unique architectural details from the original design. The building, which reached its 100th anniversary this past February, is dedicated to Thomas W. Evans, a Philadelphia native who provided dental services to European royalty before leaving behind a fortune and the site of his estate to create a world-class dental institute.
Liz Ketterlinus, Senior Associate Dean of Development & Alumni Relations, explained that “when it opened in 1915, it was a state-of-the-art building, it was the talk of the town, [and] it was the most important development in dental education ever.”
“All of the notables were here — the governor of the state was here, the mayor of Philadelphia and all kinds of dignitaries came when the building opened,” she added.
The Evans Building Centennial Renaissance Project will impact all four levels of the 133,304-square-foot building.
“The thinking is that we want to get the 100 year-old building secure and stable and looking fantastic going forward for the next 100 years,” Dean Kinane said, though he acknowledged that the reconstruction may only last another 50 years. Kinane was recently appointed to a second term as the dean of the School of Dental Medicine.
Ketterlinus said the dental school is funding the project through three methods, each covering roughly a third of the $34 million reconstruction.
A century bond made available by Penn and money from the dental school reserves will cover a combined two-thirds of the funding. The final third, approximately $12 million, comes from the Dental School’s fundraising.
“My role as a Senior Associate Dean is to raise that money from private individuals, alumni, friends of the school, companies, [and] foundations so that we can complete this project on time,” Ketterlinus said.
Jeff Fahnoe, who will oversee the Evans Building Centennial Renaissance Project as Senior Director of Operations and Planning, noted that the building will remain active throughout the construction.
“The biggest obstacle is the fact that we are doing construction in an active building and [still] meeting the needs of the students and the faculty to [sustain] our mission,” he said.
Despite this complication, Fahnoe is confident that the project will be completed on time.
“It is a very tight timetable and we have incentives to get things done quickly to reduce the impact on students and the faculty,” he added.
Of the improvements being made to the Evans Building, Dean Kinane said the most critical transformation of the building involves the lower-concourse, which contains the General Restorative Dentistry laboratory.
“The GRD laboratory is unchanged for the last 100 years, and it’s really an entire space that is jokingly referred to by the students as the ‘dungeon’,” Kinane said.
“We’re going to really revitalize the area, so the whole lower concourse of the Evans Building is going to be a total transformation [as an] educational student-centric area,” he added.
Among the parts of the Evans Building that won’t be immediately transformed is the second floor clinic; the dental school plans on renovating it after the completion of the reconstruction. The school’s future plans also include connecting the Evans Building with the Levy Center for Oral Health Research and The Robert Schattner Center. The school also intends to renovate the Levy Center after the Evans Building Centennial Renaissance Project is completed.
A previous version of this article misspelled Liz Ketterlinus as Liz Keterlinus. The DP regrets the error.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.