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Penn will once again be represented at the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s Preservation Achievement Awards Luncheon.

The George A. Weiss Pavilion will be receiving the Grand Jury Award on May 8, along with 16 other restored historic buildings in the Philadelphia area. The restoration and construction of the Music Building also won the award in 2010.

The Preservation Achievement Awards are given out every year to projects that “demonstrate the best practices in historical preservation” in the Philadelphia area, said Ben Leech, the Alliance’s advocacy director.

The Weiss Pavilion took home the award for Penn because “it demonstrated the importance of really studying a building’s history,” Leech said.

During the restoration, the architects realized that the level of the street adjacent to the building had been raised years ago, according to University Architect David Hollenberg. They then discovered that the structure’s foundation was lower to the ground than they thought, allowing for additional space at the bottom of the building.

After determining the base was still stable and the extra room could be incorporated into the design of the restoration, the architects built a new level using the extra space, Hollenberg said.

Hollenberg oversaw the restoration project in collaboration with Crawford Architects.

For Penn, this award is “very gratifying,” added Hollenberg, who has also been teaching at the School of Design for 24 years in the Historic Preservation Department.

“Its wonderful to have one of the leading preservation organizations in the United States recognize the quality of your work,” he said. “It validates the care and respect that Penn takes with its historic buildings.”

This year will be the award luncheon’s 19th year, where “600 like-minded people can get together and celebrate Philadelphia architecture,” Leech said.

The Grand Jury Award is the main prize the Alliance gives out annually. A group of 12 professionals in architecture serve as judges to select the winners from a pool of nominees. To be eligible, the preservation and restoration projects must have taken place within the last two years.

The judges looked highly upon the architects’ discovery of the extra usable space for the Weiss Pavilion restoration project because the Alliance “really advocates for architects to study the history of the buildings,” Leech said.

Winning awards in both years has demonstrated that “we have a great tradition of historic architecture on the campus,” Hollenberg said, emphasizing that Penn focuses on contemporary architecture. “Our tradition is not a style but an approach to building.”

For Leech, Penn winning the award for its efforts on preserving the Weiss Pavilion and the Music Building “demonstrates the University’s commitment to using their historical buildings to the highest and best use.”

He believes the award gives “proper recognition” to an institute that realizes their “historic buildings can be assets and can really propel new projects that enhance the campus but at the same time respect the historical architecture that makes the campus the special place that it is.”


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