Supported by $5 Million in State Grants, UArts’ Student Center Opens

April 4, 2023

Supported by $5 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, University of the Arts’ new Student Center opened on April 4, 2023. The new center is the university’s first-ever centralized hub for student activity, occupying the first floor of historic Gershman Hall at the intersection of Pine and Broad streets in Philadelphia. Its realization delivers much-needed gathering and learning spaces on the university’s Center City campus.

More than 65 percent of UArts’ student body already accesses Gershman Hall’s classrooms and services every week, and film lovers regularly gather there for screenings presented by Lightbox Film Center at University of the Arts. Not only does this new space serve as the heart of student activity, but it also bolsters the university’s mission, to advance human creativity, in Philadelphia and beyond.

“At UArts, we believe creativity is a fundamental and profound catalyst for social and economic change,” said UArts President and CEO David Yager. “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. 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.”

The project was also supported by a lead gift from Harriet and Larry Weiss to establish Harriet’s Place: Larry's gift. Also located on the first floor of Gershman Hall, Harriet’s Place includes a collaboration hub, a cafe, a school store and other compelling features. Both Harriet and Larry Weiss have been longtime supporters of UArts and patrons of the arts in Philadelphia. Additionally, 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 and enrich the student experience for future generations. The forthcoming phases of the Student Center project will also include a state-of-the-art screening room, an expanded and modernized dining hall, and an improved accessible building entrance.

In addition, the patrons who visit the university to explore exhibitions and productions will boost Philadelphia’s entertainment and restaurant industries. Throughout construction, this project has created dozens of new jobs in Center City and has given Philadelphia’s hard-hit restaurant and entertainment industry a significant boost. UArts has also ensured 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