Morgan Hall’s identity is articulated in its strong urban presence and the modern, clean design vocabulary of glass, metal panels, and white and black brick. Bright and light during the day and illuminated from within at night, the new complex is visually memorable and easy to navigate. From the north, students entering along Liacouras Walk take the slight ramp up to a large, sunny Terrace that opens to the southwest. At the corner of North Broad Street, a wide landscaped stair leads to the same urban yard above. Continuing this vocabulary into the main entries, perimeter retail entries and main lobbies, the airy, bright spaces feature terrazzo floors, ample glass to allow daylight in, as well as sculptural, acoustic wood ceiling panels and pendant lighting. Stainless-steel fireplaces provide a visual focus, while furnishings are movable and reconfigurable. From the street, the new complex presents several functional identities: the staff residences on Oxford Street, the public dining along North Broad Street, and the two campus-facing exposures. At a distance, the glass-enclosed double-height Neighborhood Lounges indicate the vertical communities and student life within. With its mix of functionality, modern expression, and campus and community connections, Morgan Hall establishes a visual urban vocabulary of a significant metropolitan university.
To provide an appropriate balance of university and community spaces, the vision for the project began by lining the site with residential and commercial structures, opening up a raised Terrace
at the core, which becomes the communal yard for the students housed within. The complex consists of two primary residential buildings: a slim tower to the north, which becomes a landmark in the Philadelphia skyline—and an L-shaped midrise at the east and south. Along the Broad Street corridor is a 53,000-square-foot retail and dining pavilion, serving both the student
population and surrounding community. Together these buildings form the walls of the new urban yard. Inside, student activity spaces and the dining hall create a series of open interiors with high ceilings on the terrace level. The residences are configured in suites, creating vertical neighborhoods of approximately 60 students that facilitate strong bonds of community within the larger complex. The neighborhoods share doubleheight lounges, which are articulated as glass volumes at the corners of the residential buildings, expressing the student life to the city beyond. The efficient yet ample suites provide kitchenettes and technology connectivity, as well as operable windows and stunning views of the campus and city beyond.
The Terrace forms a central communal space for students and visitors alike, accessible from the street level at the northeastern and southwestern corners of the site. The Terrace paving is punctuated by an assortment of lawn, trees, and planting beds. This mix of soft and hard spaces throughout the terrace delineates unique outdoor “rooms,” which clarify circulation through the plaza and accommodate an array of activities, from quiet study sessions to large programmed events.
The Olin Studio, PZ Architects, CVM Engineers, HF Lenz Company, Renfo Lighting
MGA Partners is a nationally recognized design firm located in Philadelphia, distinguished for work that combines design excellence with long-term value. The firm’s project list includes repeat commissions for the federal government, prominent universities and public institutions. The firm’s emphasis on design is reflected in an array of significant awards, publications, competitions and exhibits. Student life projects are a recognized area of leadership for the firm, including major new buildings, commons facilities for new college house systems, renovations and additions, and many involving historic buildings.