The University of Pennsylvania is getting a new, multifaceted Academic Hall named after the university’s revered school of design, Stuart Weitzman Hall. Before being renamed after Penn benefactor and luxury shoe designer Stuart Weitzman in 2019, the school was known simply as PennDesign.
Technically, the newly renamed hall at the Weitzman School of Design isn’t a new building at all, but an existing landmark building on Penn’s leafy West Philadelphia campus, the John Morgan Building. Completed in 1892 at what is now the intersection of Smith Walk and 34th Street, the eight-story brick-fronted Morgan Building is one of nine buildings on campus designed by the Philadelphia firm Cope & Stewardson and was originally a dormitory erected as part of the Foulke and Long Institute for orphaned girls. It was acquired by Penn in 1899 and housed the university’s physics department for several decades. Today, it sits directly across 34th Street from a pair of other Weitzman School buildings, the Fisher Fine Arts Library, and Meyerson Hall, as well as the newly renovated Stuart Weitzman Plaza. .
As announced by the university, the Morgan Building will be renovated and expanded, with a new wing on its south side under a project led by Philadelphia-based Kieran Timberlake. (The firm’s founding partners, Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake, are both Weitzman alumni and former school faculty members.) In his new life as Stuart Weitzman Hall, the former Morgan Building “will create an optimal environment for education and research in art and design. ”
“The Weitzman School urgently needs state-of-the-art, centrally located facilities and the Morgan Building provides the ideal solution,” Penn Acting President Wendell Pritchett said in a statement. “We are extremely grateful to Stuart for helping to make this vision a reality. Naming the building for Stuart honors his enduring commitment to Penn’s student success and his extraordinary ongoing support of the school.
As Penn detailed, the 130-year-old Morgan Hall will retain its original architectural elements, including its facade, while its interior will be “completely redesigned” to serve faculty and students from various departments across the board. Weitzman School. Planned features include fine art and design studios, creative spaces, research facilities, classrooms, faculty offices, exhibition spaces, meeting spaces, and more. Although the Morgan Building will emerge from the expansion and renovations as Weitzman Hall, the Morgan name will continue to be used inside the building, according to the school.
Calling the Morgan Building “truly a diamond in the rough,” Weitzman School Dean Frederick Steiner pointed to the revitalization of the former orphanage as the “single largest building expansion project for the school in 55 years”.
“Stuart seizes a unique opportunity to make a difference in the daily lives of students and faculty at this time, and to enable the School to grow and adapt in the future,” he added. .
As for Weitzman, who graduated in 1963 from Penn’s Wharton School, he praised the university for helping him during his “long and enjoyable career in design”, and noted that he was “delighted to give a new life to a remarkable 19th century building at the heart of campus.
A project schedule has yet to be announced; A will report when further design details of the reimagined Morgan Building are released.