Joel Sanders Architect

UPenn Institute of Contemporary Art: Concept Study

This is a concept study for the renovation and expansion of the ICA at UPenn, a project which is no longer in the pipeline. The study addresses the following challenge: how can the ICA raise the civic profile of this highly regarded contemporary art venue, transforming it into a vibrant arts hub that attracts a broad and diverse audience of Philadelphia residents, arts patrons and the Penn Community? Our concept design addresses this challenge by activating the building perimeter with a series of indoor and outdoor gathering spaces that foster unscripted interactions.

Our proposal reorients the building’s entrance to greet visitors coming from the main campus.  We replaced the forbidding windowless Samson Street front with a glazed window wall that offers pedestrians views into a new bookstore/reading lounge, café and series of seminar rooms. A generous exterior staircase provides access to a lush landscaped terrace, conceived of as a north campus oasis. A new multi-purpose hall anchors the northwest corner of the site. Retractable bleachers allow its interior to be reconfigured for lectures, performances and special events.

Location Philadelphia, PA
Year 2015
Landscape Architect DLand Studio
Structural Engineer Keast & Hood
MEP Engineer Altieri Sebor Weber LLC
ICA - Existing