Philips Memorial Hall
West Chester University | West Chester, Pennsylvania
Philip Memorial Hall is the one original buildings on West Chester University’s campus. Designed by Walter Price in 1925, the building is an excellent example of Collegiate Gothic architecture and houses the university’s administrative headquarters, including the president’s office, a rare book library, lecture halls, meeting rooms, and a 1,500-seat recital hall.
The university commissioned VMA to conduct a feasibility study to consider contemporary options for the historic structure. After a thorough programming analysis, VMA proposed converting the auditorium into a theater and concert hall while painstakingly restoring the building envelope. The project also required updating to modern systems.
Now known as the Emile K. Asplundh Concert Hall, the former auditorium is fit out in accordance with Actor’s Equity requirements, making it a stellar venue for regional and repertory shows as well as international stage acts. Sightlines and acoustics were improved by increasing the rake of the floor, reducing the number of seats under the deep balcony, installing 1,200 new and refurbished seats, and installing decorative plaster acoustic panels in the barrel-vaulted ceiling. A new lighting catwalk was designed in harmony with the historic character of the space, while new stage rigging, lighting, and a control booth were added. To meet current codes, the building received new HVAC, electrical wiring, lighting, plumbing, and fire suppression systems. Pairs of new elevators and restrooms combined with a new at-grade entrance ensured the facility is fully accessible. All interior spaces were refinished and restored, including elaborate library woodwork and decorative plaster.
Preservation Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Awards, 2002
Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, Grand Jury Award, 2002
- “The Curtain is Raised on Philips Memorial Hall” by Henrika Taylor. Traditional Building, Nov/Dec 2002.
Size: 53,000 sf
Budget: $11.54 million
Architecture, Interior Design, Historical Preservation