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White art gallery with light color hardwood flooring and stairs with black base leading upstairs. Art is on white pedestal
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Dramatic Transformation at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

(PHILADELPHIA, April 2, 2019) – The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) celebrated the official opening of the John and Richanda Rhoden Arts Center on February 21, 2019 in Philadelphia. Representatives from DLR Group, which was recently ranked the #1 Cultural Design firm by BD World Architecture, were in attendance to commemorate the occasion.

street view of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts building with two story blue and orange paint brush sculpture outside

Located in the previously unused lower level of the historic 280,000-SF Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building, the Arts Center is part of our multi-phased master plan that encompasses both the Hamilton Building and the iconic Furness and Hewitt Historic Landmark Building, which is considered the first modern landmark and one of the most significant historic structures in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. PAFA’s new Arts Center realizes a key aspect of the master plan to create design solutions that preserve the Academy’s historic structures while addressing student population growth and collection care needs.

“The 1920s Hamilton Building remains a significant structure, not only to the Academy but also to the history of Philadelphia,” said Senior Principal, Paul Westlake, FAIA, who leads DLR Group’s Cultural+Performing Arts Studio. “Our design delivers a new Arts Center that respects the history of the structure and reinforces PAFA’s image as a nationally known institution where fine art is created and celebrated. We look forward to a lasting partnership with the Academy as the master plan continues to move forward.”

The 15,000-SF Arts Center includes a state-of-the-art 265-seat auditorium, a new gallery for student art exhibitions, and a collections storage vault for 20th- and 21st-century artwork. The auditorium includes an electro-acoustical enhancement system that simulates the acoustics of a much larger space and allows for unamplified classical music performances.

In addition to performances and artwork created by and for PAFA, the new Arts Center will also host performances, concerts, lectures, and other events created in partnership with Arts Center partners, including the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, 900AM-WURD, the Fabric Workshop and Museum, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and Mural Arts Philadelphia.

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