The Arlen Specter Center for Public Service at Philadelphia University was among three projects BBA worked on that won an award from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. For information about the project from the owner’s perspective, click here.
Before it was renovated and rechristened the Arlen Specter Center, the structure was known as Roxboro House. Listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, the former private residence had various owners since 1802, including Dr. Caspar Wistar, a prominent physician who published the first American textbook of anatomy. Prior to its purchase by the Philadelphia University in 1998, the Georgian-style dwelling had most recently been a bed and breakfast inn.
Led by Preservation Design Partnership, LLC, BBA and other members of the project team conducted a conditions assessment that revealed several items requiring immediate attention. These included mitigation of ongoing moisture infiltration through the deteriorated roof, repair/shoring of deteriorated framing and compromised wood structure, and removal of the structurally-compromised tower addition.
The historic three-story building was subsequently restored and repurposed as the Arlen Specter Center for Public Service. The Center’s role is to foster greater understanding of political science, government and history through research, educational programming, and exhibits inspired by Senator Arlen Specter’s career and reflected in the permanent collection of his historic papers.
The $5 million project created exhibit space, offices, a conference room, artifact storage, a catering kitchen and utility areas. An addition connecting the lower three floors provides vertical circulation and includes an elevator and public restrooms.