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Building Conservation Associates

University of Pennsylvania, Richards Medical Research Laboratory

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Year Built: 1962
Original Architect: Louis Kahn

The Richards Medical Research Laboratory, designed by the internationally influential Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn, was completed in 1962. It was immediately heralded as one of the most consequential buildings of the 20th century and one of Kahn’s greatest achievements due to Kahn’s unique approach to materials and building organization. The building’s significance and relatively high degree of integrity led to its designation as a National Historic Landmark in 2009.

BCA collaborated on a Feasibility Study for the renovation of the Richards Laboratory, the goal of which was to enhance and improve the way the building is used within the confines of a preservation approach. BCA implemented a series of field and laboratory tests to identify the best means of restoring certain aspects of the building’s interior. BCA then developed appropriate cleaning approaches for the exposed concrete, original CMU, and terrazzo and performed an interior finishes analysis. BCA provided construction phase services during the renovation. Later, BCA returned to the Richards Building to assist with an exterior renovation project, performing research and testing related to the exterior metal railings at the building’s main entrance. BCA provided recommendations for the restoration and replication of these simple, Kahn-designed bronze railings.