Franklin Field and the Palestra, which have hosted some of Penn's most memorable football and basketball games, are set to be renovated over the next year as the historic venues continue to age.
As the third iteration of Penn President Amy Gutmann's long-term campus renovation plan approaches its midpoint, Facilities and Real Estate Services is in the process of developing improvements to seating, ventilation, and windows for the storied stadiums. The renovations will take place over the course of 2019 and 2020, after the stadiums had consistently appeared as areas in need of upgrades.
Franklin Field's capacity will be reduced in fall 2019, but the renovations will not have an impact on this year's Commencement or Penn Relays, which are hosted in the venue. The Palestra renovations are also scheduled for summer 2020 to avoid conflicts with indoor sports.
Jennifer Wetzel, director of Design and Construction at FRES, described the Franklin Field renovation as a “concrete restoration project."
The concrete in the lower east and upper south seating areas will be revamped and restored. The restoration of these areas marks the second phase of the larger seating restoration project at Franklin Field, and comes three years after the refurbishment of the upper north seating area.
Wetzel said the project is slated to be completed between June and December 2019 and will have some effect on seating availability for home football games next fall.
For the Palestra, plans include upgrading heating, installing new air conditioning, and replacing windows. Construction is scheduled to begin after commencement in spring 2020 and is slated to end by September 2020, Wetzel said.
The renovations are part of FRES' efforts to implement ongoing building maintenance, with the department monitoring the exterior of every building on a five-year cycle to ensure structural safety, University Architect Mark Kocent said.
“We periodically review the conditions of all our buildings,” Kocent said. “We keep a database of those conditions, and [the Palestra and Franklin Field] have continued to reappear as needing reinvestment.”
Penn Athletics, FRES, and the University’s central leadership were involved in the development of final renovation plans, Kocent said.
Associate Athletic Director for Facilities Noah Gustkey, added that the athletics office is considering potential renovations to Hollenback Annex — an indoor training facility — and Penn’s Boathouse. Gustkey said these plans would be implemented after September 2019, when the squash facility's renovation is expected to be completed.
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