University of Pennsylvania



  • Project Overview
  • Project Details

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

January 2014

Construction Management

2015 Preservation Achievement Grand Jury Award



Torcon was the Construction Manager for University of Pennsylvania’s restoration of its Arts, Research, and Culture (ARCH) building located at the corner to Locust Walk and 36th street, the campus center. A major focus of the project was incorporating advanced technology while preserving the historical value of the building and limiting interruption of Locust Walk.

The restoration included interior alteration and renovations, as well as exterior façade restoration and historical preservation. Restoration experts were brought in to ensure the preservation of the late-Gothic revival structure.

The ground floor has been transformed into a hub for the three cultural centers: La Casa Latina, Makuu: The Black Cultural Center and the Pan-Asian American Community House. Each center has its own lounge and offices. In front of the offices is more lounge and study space that allows students to flow and mingle across a new open-plan "living room" with built-in banquette seating and glassed-in suites and high ceilings providing generous light. A new staircase was added down to an entrance on the ground floor for easier access to the cultural centers.

The first floor is home to a large multipurpose room that can be used for seminars or speaker events, or as a lounge if there are no planned events. The three conference rooms feature up-to-date technology and videoconferencing capabilities. Among the highlights is a new café, featuring Mexican-American cuisine from Chicago Chef Rick Bayless.

A second-floor auditorium equipped with interactive digital and multi-media capabilities functions as a classroom for large lecture courses for as many as 150 students. A flexible seating system in the auditorium enables its transformation into a performance space, banquet hall or venue for talks by scholars. The auditorium has been outfitted with new lighting and acoustics.

The third floor also has a room specifically designed for dance or theater rehearsal, with hardwood floor and a mirrored wall.

The building has also been upgraded with an A/C system, which it previously did not have, as well as with a better heating system and more IT support.

This project has achieved LEED Silver Certification.