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Report of the Committee on Facilities

May 14, 2002

Scheduled for discussion at Council in September 2002

The Council Committee on Facilities met three times. The main focus of the first meeting was on classroom needs. The Provost has a classroom committee, which is charged with maintaining and upgrading classrooms in the registrar’s central pool. That committee is funded at the rate of $1M per year, which is the same rate that the committee has been funded for a decade. In that decade the number of classrooms in the registrar’s central pool has increased by about 50%; thus the same amount of money is available for one and one-half times as many classrooms, and that amount is reduced by the effects of inflation. Roughly twice as much funding is now needed.

The Provost’s classroom committee is charged with maintaining the classrooms in the central pool but this is pointless if the infrastructures in those buildings are inadequate. What sense is there in upgrading classrooms in a building in which the roof leaks, or in which the ventilation fails? So money is also needed to maintain the infrastructure of classroom buildings. Mr. Blaik, of the Facilities Department, reported that the "capital reinvestment" (formerly known as deferred maintenance) needs of the campus as a whole are about $20M per year. That is, $20M/ year needs to be spent on facilities maintenance if our building stock is not to deteriorate further. But the University is actually spending $12M/ year. Thus there are no surplus funds in the facilities budget to cover the deferred maintenance needs of classroom buildings.

The committee suggested, therefore, that a secure source of revenue was needed to fund classroom infrastructure. The committee made three suggestions about where this money might be found:

1. Donors might be sought after whom classrooms, especially lecture halls, might be named. The income from this endowment would be used to maintain classrooms.

2. A variant of that scheme is that Penn has a number of legendary lecturers. The students of those lecturers might be solicited to provide smaller donations to endow the lecture halls in which the legendary lecturers lectured. Thus, to be concrete, the thousands of students who took Psychology 1 from Professor Henry Gleitman might be solicited to raise money to endow Stiteler Hall B6 as the Henry Gleitman Lecture Hall. The Abrams award winners are the obvious group of faculty whose students might be solicited.

3. The Central Administration might impose a user fee for classroom use. So each department with a course in, say, Stiteler Hall B6 might be charged a per student fee. These fees would be dedicated to classroom and infrastructure maintenance. Of course eventually the Schools would have to pay these fees, and, of course, the Schools currently pay for maintenance in the form of allocated cost charges. The advantages of the user fee scheme are two. First, it would allow for an explicit calculation of the needs of the classroom buildings and the fees could be set to reflect these real needs, and, second, the University could charge differently depending on when the course was scheduled. There is a severe "peak-loading" problem such that rooms are in heavy demand from 10 a.m.—3 p.m. on Monday to Thursday. The user fee could be made more expensive during those hours and cheaper during "off-hours", thus providing incentives to the Schools to teach in other hours.

The committee hopes that Mr. Blaik passed on these suggestions to the appropriate committee working on facilities as part of the strategic planning process. Mr. Blaik informed the chair that this problem of funding infrastructure renewal was under active discussion by a facilities committee of the strategic planning process.

The Facilities Committee Chair and the Chair of the Provost’s Classroom Committee met with Deputy Provost Conn in Fall 2001 and with Deputy Provost Conn and Provost Barchi in the Spring 2002 to discuss these ideas. The Provost assured us that he would consider these ideas and that he was supportive of the idea of better funding for classroom maintenance.

Our second meeting was focused on the Campus Development Plan. The question was: Has the Development Plan been altered since the committee last reviewed it, and in what ways has it been implemented. One change in the plan is that for the time being, at least, the University has no plan to add dormitory space to super block. In terms of implementation:

The University: a) planted trees along Chestnut Street (community collaboration); b) demolished Blau House and reestablished Woodland Walk; c) will turn the parking lot on the west side of the Franklin Building into a small garden, as well as a service area and open plaza. d) made improvements on 34th Street and 38th Street; e) by creating the Penn-assisted school in West Philadelphia, has helped stabilize the West Philadelphia neighborhood; f) by its involvement in the Left Bank, has taken steps to stimulate development in the passage-way between the campus and Center City, and g) begun to create green space to the East of the Left Bank.

The committee urged that the administration pay attention to: a) How it uses the Mellon Building and Franklin Annex space [this is now prime campus space]; and, b) 38th street which is badly in need of humanizing elements.

The third meeting of the committee was devoted to the report from the transportation sub-committee.

Transportation Subcommittee of the Facilities Committee, chaired by Professor Vukan R. Vuchic, has been active during the past year on a number of issues, as summarized here.

The Transportation Coordinating Committee (TCC), founded upon recommendations of the Facilities Committee in 2000, has been meeting monthly under the leadership of Mr. Charles Newman. The TCC consists of representatives of all University units responsible for issues related to street traffic, pedestrians, bicycles, SEPTA, parking, etc. Dr. Vuchic, as a member of TCC, maintained the liaison between its activities and the Facilities Committee.

Transportation System and Policy

The Campus Master Plan has been completed but not yet extensively implemented. Some aspects of its recommended Transportation policies have already been used in the work of TCC, however.

Streets and Traffic

Reconstruction of Spruce Street has continued. Redesign of Walnut Street, including measures that would decrease traffic speeds and makes the street safer and more pedestrian-friendly, are now under development and negotiations with the City’s Department of Streets.

Particular attention is being given to the intersections of Walnut with 33rd, 34th, and 36th Streets. Several alternative designs and signal timing patterns for the Walnut/34th Streets intersection are being analyzed.


No progress has been made about improving mid-block pedestrian crossings on 33rd and 34th Streets, nor the hazardous confusion created by the signs posted by the City on Convention Avenue at SEPTA’s station. One person in the Streets Department continues to oppose application of sound traffic engineering measures to provide safety for hundreds of daily pedestrians crossing Convention Avenue.

Bicycle Traffic

In addition to further expansion and improvements of bicycle storage facilities, two major actions should be pursued to encourage use of bicycles. The Campus Master Plan recommends encouragement of bicycle use because they are extremely economical, convenient for travel in the campus area and city in general. They are also very environmentally friendly. However, improvements in their use are needed.

First, network of bicycle lanes and paths should be further expanded and improved. The bicycle lanes have been introduced on many streets, including Chestnut and 33rd Streets, and well accepted. The next step is to introduce bicycle lanes by clear lines and markings on wide sidewalks, which have light pedestrian traffic, such as Spruce Street between 33rd and Convention Avenue and the south sidewalk of Walnut Street. These paths will be for one way, orderly travel of bicycles.

Bike paths clearly marked sharing sidewalks have been used widely in many countries for many decades. Two examples are shown on the photographs below. Such paths would greatly increase convenience and safety of both pedestrians and bicycle users. Instead of the present travel of bicyclists on all sidewalks in both directions in a totally disorganized manner, they would move only on clearly designated paths in one direction. The present conflict between bicycles and pedestrians will thus be solved.

The second measure is conversion of bicycle traffic from a lawless, often reckless travel on any surface in any direction disregarding even red signals to a legal, regulated, orderly mode of travel. To achieve this grading of bicycle traffic, three steps are necessary.

1. Provide safe and convenient bicycle facilities, such as paths and safe intersection crossings. This is being gradually achieved, as mentioned above.

2. Educate bicyclists of their rights and responsibilities.

3. Enforce traffic regulations.

SEPTA’s Transit Services

Transit remains a grossly underutilized system in the campus area. It is paradoxical that an urban university in an area served by many diverse transit services (bus, Green Line Subway-Surface, Blue Line Market-Frankford El, Regional Rail lines, Amtrak) many students do not even know what services exist, and SEPTA’s passengers at adjacent subway stations have no information that the University of Pennsylvania is in the immediate vicinity.

This situation is extremely wasteful and it results in increased traffic congestion, pressures for more parking and large expenses for university buses provided from the University budget. Both SEPTA and our University should work on correcting this situation.

It would be in the interest of our University, its students, employees, and visitors, as well as SEPTA, to introduce a comprehensive "package" of measures to greatly increase use of SEPTA services. This package should include such items as:

• Designation of some SEPTA stations, such as 34th Street station or the Blue Line and 36th Street station or the Green Line, as "University of Pennsylvania" and provide clear maps in those stations.

• University should integrate these stations in the campus environment and architecture. For example, Sansom Common, a very lively area, should have an attractive opening into the 36th Street Green Line station located directly underneath it.

• SEPTA should offer an attractive package of student passes to which the University should also contribute so that students would either obtain these passes free when they register, or purchase them for a nominal price, such as $50-100 per semester.

This type of transit passes included in student benefits has been used at an increasing number of universities, in cities like Chicago, Houston, and Seattle, with great success.

Facilities Committee Members, 2001-2002

Chair: John Sabini (psychology); Faculty: Eugenie Birch (city & reg plng), Susan Gennaro (nursing), Melvyn Hammarberg (anthro), Paul Kleindorfer (OPIM), Parvati Ramchandani (radiol/med), John Sabini (psychology), Vukan R. Vuchic (syst engr), Susan Wachter (real estate); Graduate/professional students: Sharon Entenberg (GSE); Francis Hult (GSE); Undergraduate students: Corey Kenyon (EAS’04)Nina Smolyar (COL’02); PPSA: Doug Berger (Housing & Conference Svcs), Amy Johnson (Business Svcs), Helene Lee (Nursing); A-3: Loretta Hauber (CGS), Troy Odom (OAA); Ex officio: Omar Blaik (vp, facilities svcs), Alice Nagle (chair, cmt for an Accessible University), Ronald Sanders (registrar)

(Above) Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg
The corner in the picture has a place for bicycles to turn left, and in the lower right hand corner you can see the bike path stops short of the corner to give pedestrians priority over the crossing.


(Abbve) Berlin, Halensee
Clearly marked bicycle paths on lightly traveled sidewalks are convenient and safe for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Photos by V.R. Vuchic

Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 1, July 16, 2002


July 16, 2002
Volume 49 Number 1

Dr. Marvin Lazerson gets a new Endowed Chair in Education.
The annual GSE Awards are presented.
The Penn Cancer Center is renamed.
The Faculty Senate's Slate of nominees for the Senate Executive Committee.
PPSA's 2002-2003 Board has been elected.
The A-3 Assembly's officers invite all A-3 employees to a July meeting.
The Trustees held their full board meetings last month.
The report of the Council Committee on Facilities deals with classrooms, Campus Development Plan, and Transportation.
Graduate Medical Education has a new director.
Speaking Out about the future of the BioPond and protecting personal privacy.
Honors for faculty, staff, students, and HUP
Research Foundation Awards for Spring 2002.
Research Roundup: Sumerian Dictionary, Smallpox, Alzheimer's Disease, and Schizophrenia.
New challenges, more efforts to conserve energy and control energy costs.
Business Services: Parking Rates; Children's Center; Mail Service; Dining Services; Customized Penn merchandise; Directory Update; Computer Connection.
New Security Measures for Penn's Networked Systems will require replacing PennNet ID and password PennKeys and passwords.