Report of the
Committee on Facilities
for discussion at Council in September 2002
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 registrars 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 registrars 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.
Provosts 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.
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:
Donors might be sought after whom classrooms, especially lecture
halls, might be named. The income from this endowment would
be used to maintain classrooms.
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
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.
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
Facilities Committee Chair and the Chair of the Provosts
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.
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:
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.
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.
third meeting of the committee was devoted to the report from
the transportation sub-committee.
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.
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.
System and Policy
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.
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 Citys Department of Streets.
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
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 SEPTAs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
safe and convenient bicycle facilities, such as paths and safe
intersection crossings. This is being gradually achieved,
as mentioned above.
Educate bicyclists of their rights and responsibilities.
Enforce traffic regulations.
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 SEPTAs passengers
at adjacent subway stations have no information that the University
of Pennsylvania is in the immediate vicinity.
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.
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.
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.
Committee Members, 2001-2002
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);
students: Sharon Entenberg (GSE); Francis Hult (GSE);
Corey Kenyon (EAS04)Nina Smolyar (COL02); 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)
Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg
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.
marked bicycle paths on lightly traveled sidewalks are convenient
and safe for bicyclists and pedestrians.