Philips Memorial Hall
West Chester University | West Chester, Pennsylvania
West Chester University commissioned a feasibility study to consider options for the contemporary use of historic Philips Memorial Hall, the one remaining building original to the foundation of their campus. It was designed by Walter Price as an excellent example of Collegiate Gothic architecture in 1925 and was housing the university’s administrative headquarters, including the president’s office, a rare book library, lecture halls, meeting rooms and the main auditorium. After a thorough programming analysis, we developed a proposal to convert the auditorium into a theater and concert hall while painstakingly restoring the building envelope before ultimately partnering with the university to implement this vision.
The former auditorium, now known as the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, is fit out in accordance with Actor’s Equity requirements, making it a stellar venue for regional and repertory performances as well as international stage acts. It rehabilitated to celebrate its original architectural character while producing a state-of-the-art performance space. 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 on the barrel-vaulted ceiling. A new lighting catwalk was designed in harmony with the historic character of the space, and new stage rigging, lighting and a control booth were installed.
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 to make the facility fully accessible. The elaborate library woodwork and decorative plaster were carefully restored, two meeting rooms were reclaimed, and all interior spaces were refinished.
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