Philadelphia, PA – Renovations for Academy of Music, inside and out

PhillyRenovations for Academy of Music, inside and out
By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Culture Writer | Published by
May 28, 2013

Change comes incrementally to the Academy of Music, as it must to any building vital and beloved at nearly 156 years old. This summer, while renovations are planned, they are modest compared with those of recent years.

And, frankly, the Academy could probably use a chance to catch its breath after events of the last few years: millions in restorations to the ballroom and main chandelier; the death of Leonore Annenberg, its major benefactor; and that unfortunate business of having to declare bankruptcy even though its own finances were fine, when its owner, the Philadelphia Orchestra, filed for Chapter 11.

After the national touring company production of Wicked closes Aug. 4, workers will begin demolishing the Academy’s front steps. New cast stone slabs will be put into place, topped by only half the number of current handrails (five, not 10).

Inside, plaster on the parquet level will be repaired. A new lounge with a video screen and audio will be created in the lower level, to accommodate latecomers waiting for a break to allow them entrance to ballet, opera, or show. The entire HVAC system must be replaced, a several-million-dollar job, but in the meantime a new digital control system will be installed to help the existing system run more efficiently.

The likely price tag for this round of work is $600,000 to $800,000, says Matthew Loden, the orchestra’s executive vice president and the Academy’s chief restoration fund officer. Construction is expected to run through September.

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Many thanks to THS Member Howard Haas (Philadelphia, PA) for this article about renovations to the Academy of Music, which was a venue on the 2009 Conclave Theatre Tour.

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