Penn State approves architect for Old Main repairs

September 09, 2011

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State’s Board of Trustees approved the continued engagement of Ann Beha Architects of Boston to oversee critical repairs of Old Main. The firm will be involved with the conservation of the Land-Grant Frescoes, plumbing upgrades and replacement of the perimeter heat system.

“Old Main is an historic icon and is one of the most recognized symbols of Penn State. It was designed in 1929 by Charles Klauder, a nationally recognized architect of academic buildings,” said Al Horvath, the University’s senior vice president for Finance and Business/treasurer. “The majority of Klauder’s original design still is intact today. However, over the past 82 years, normal wear and deterioration have compromised the preservation of some of the building’s original features.”

In addition to his design work on Old Main, Klauder penned the University Park campus’ master plan. He is credited with the design of 15 campus buildings, including Carnegie Building, West Halls and Pattee Library, and designed the campus’ malls, quads and green corridors.

Horvath said utility infrastructure replacements and upgrades at Old Main are necessary to avoid critical failures in the building’s heating, cooling and plumbing systems.

In 2008, Ann Beha Architects was retained by the University to produce a master plan for a phased renovation of Old Main. Their team also includes Albert Michaels Conservation Inc., which completed a painstaking study focused on assessing the condition of, and identifying strategies to conserve, the Land-Grant Frescoes, which grace three walls and 1,300 square feet in Old Main’s lobby. The study found that inadequate temperature and humidity control in the lobby has been a primary source of long-term deterioration of the frescoes. Widely regarded as historic and artistic treasures, the frescoes were painted by world-renowned artist Henry Varnum Poor in the 1940s. The works are the only frescoes at an American university created by an American artist.

Ann Beha Architects’ previous work includes the renovation and expansion of the historic Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge, Mass.; the Old Playmaker’s Theatre in Chapel Hill, N.C.; and the House Majority Caucus Room at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa.

  • Old Main Bell Tower

    The Old Main bell tower, third of its kind, on Penn State's University Park campus.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated March 22, 2012