Making way for the Pavilion began with a demolition of Penn Tower, which had served as Penn Medicine's outpatient hub for several decades before the 2008 opening of the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. The 40-year-old Penn Tower – which began its life as a Hilton Hotel, complete with a rotating restaurant overlooking Philadelphia on the top floor – came down piece by piece, in a precisely orchestrated process that took more than a year.

Along the way, the project's leaders put the Earth first, with a robust recycling program that saved more than 33 tons of steel, concrete, and other materials – nearly four times the weight of the Eiffel Tower – from landfills. Before demolition began, dozens of pieces of furniture were given a second life through donation to local charities.

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