Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Philadelphia, PA

Phases I-VII Hamiton Building
Project Type: Historic Preservation and Interior Renovation
Total Project Cost: $60 Million
Project Size: 250,000 square feet
Architect: Saylor Gregg Architects

Phase VIII – Lenfest Plaza
Project Type: Urban Park New Construction
Cost Lenfest Plaza & Paint Torch: $5.5 Million
Project Size: 11,000 square feet
Artist: Claes Oldenburg
Landscape Architect: The Olin Studio


“Erecting and securing a 53-foot long piece of public art at a dizzying angle on one of Philadelphia’s busiest downtown streets is no small feat. Becker and Frondorf’s diligent work dealt with all of the behind the scenes details to ensure that the installation went off without a hitch. The firm’s efforts helped achieve the vision that both PAFA and I had for the project. The vision became a reality.”
CLAES OLDENBURG POP ARTIST “PAINT TORCH”

  • Image of 53-foot-tall pop sculpture of a paintbrush and a glob of paint by artist Claes Olderburg that sits on PAFA's campus along Broad Street in Philadelphia

    Paint Torch by pop artist Claes Oldenburg marks the entrance to Lenfest Plaza at PAFA

  • pop sculpture of 53 foot high paint torch by Claes Oldenburg lit with LED lights inside head of paintbrush and inside glob of paint with city hall in background

Historic Building Becomes New Home for Aspiring Artists

Becker & Frondorf oversaw seven phases of design and construction that transformed a 1920s-era industrial building into a vibrant new arts education facility. We worked with the Academy to carefully plan renovations to the 12-story, 250,000-square-foot Hamilton Building, identifying an initial scope of work critical to move-in and prioritizing projects to be phased over a ten-year period as funds became available. The School’s diverse needs, from studio spaces and libraries to foundries that generate extreme heat, required strategic infrastructure planning and safety measures to protect students through each stage of renovation. All phases of the project were delivered on budget and on schedule.
In 2011, we managed the construction of the Olin Partnership-designed Lenfest Plaza, an open-air gathering and art exhibition space adjacent to the Hamilton Building. B&F navigated complex issues, including securing approvals to permanently close a portion of Cherry Street, coordination with SEPTA to construct the plaza over an active subway, and the protection of nearby telecommunications infrastructure. Our team also oversaw the successful installation of Pop Artist Claes Oldenburg’s monumental public sculpture, Paint Torch.

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Claes Oldenburg
Paint Torch, 2011
Steel, fiberglass reinforced plastic, gelcoat, polyurethane, LED lighting
Height from ground: 50’11”; Total length of work: 53’ 9/16”; Handle to Glob distance: 14’ 4 7/8”; Glob height: 5’ 11 ¾”; Glob diameter: 6’ ¾”
Collection Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Photo credit: Attilio Maranzano
Photo courtesy the Oldenburg van Bruggen Studio
Copyright 2011 Claes Oldenburg