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University of Pennsylvania, Special Collections Center

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In renovating the University of Pennsylvania’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Gensler respected the library’s history and scholarly purpose while instilling it with new life and relevance as a vibrant events venue – tuned to its prominent location overlooking the university’s main commons. The library comprises three key elements: the Reading Room, the Great Hall and the floating, glass-enclosed Pavilion within the Great Hall that serves as the heart of the space. To accommodate a range of uses, a series of transparent, translucent and opaque panes can be rearranged to create private or open spaces, where traditional ideas are cast in modern elements.