UArts Announces Launch of Transformative Student Center

October 12, 2021

On Oct. 12, University of the Arts announced the official kick-off of a project to transform the historic Gershman Hall at 401 S. Broad Street into a new student center on campus. Designed by Philadelphia-based architecture firm JacobsWyper Architects in partnership with Galia Solomonoff of New York's Solomonoff Architecture Studio, the center will support UArts' vibrant community of visual and performing artists and provide much-needed gathering and learning spaces on UArts' Center City campus.

More than 65 percent of UArts' student body accesses Gershman Hall's classrooms every week, and film lovers regularly gather there for screenings presented by Lightbox Film Center at University of the Arts. When construction is complete, the center will function as a vital hub dedicated to UArts' mission to advance human creativity and nurture artistic growth.

"At University of the Arts, we believe that creativity is a fundamental and profound catalyst for social and economic change. That ideal is embedded into all of our educational programs, allowing us to equip tomorrow's artists with one of the most essential skills needed for success in today's global, technology-driven society," said UArts President and CEO David Yager. "We remain deeply appreciative of the support that allows us to construct this forward-looking center and eagerly anticipate an innovative new sector of our campus that better supports our students."

In December 2020, the new student center project was made possible by a $1 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The project was also supported by a lead gift from Harriet and Larry Weiss to establish Harriet's Place: a gift from Larry. Also located on the first floor of Gershman Hall, Harriet's Place will include a collaboration hub, cafe, bookstore and other compelling features. Both Harriet and Larry Weiss have been longtime supporters of UArts and patrons of the arts in Philadelphia. Harriet Weiss currently serves on UArts' board of trustees.

"Our wish is for our students to have a great college experience, a place to meet, enjoy each other's company, form new friendships, and share dreams and creative ideas," said Harriet and Larry Weiss. Harriet and Larry noted that they wish they could sing, dance and draw like UArts' students.

These new creative spaces will also allow the university to attract new and exciting talent from around the world. In addition, the patrons who visit the university to explore exhibitions and productions will boost Philadelphia's entertainment and restaurant industries. Throughout construction, the new student center project will create dozens of new jobs in Center City. Additionally, UArts will ensure that at least 25 percent of workers are from minority populations and at least 40 percent are based in Pennsylvania.

Rendering courtesy of JacobsWyper Architects.