Principles | The
Design Review Process
Guidelines were discussed at the October 16, 2001 meeting of the
Design Review Committee (DRC), in response to a request from the
Trustees that the DRC publish the criteria by which University projects
are reviewed. GSFA Dean Gary Hack, the committee chairman, wrote
a draft and distributed it at the December 11 meeting. Responses
and additions by committee members were integrated by the January
8 meeting, and forwarded to the Trustees at their February 14 meeting.
After publication For Comment in Almanac
(February 26), the committee reviewed comments from members
of the University community, and other drafts, based on input, were
generated. The following was approved by the Trustees at their
June 21, 2002 meeting.
Blaik, VP, Facilities & Real Estate Services
Guidelines and Review
of Campus Projects
Penn campus, on its West Philadelphia site, has evolved over more
than a century, with each new building added in a way that expressed
its particular time. As a result, there is not a single overriding
building style, and many different materials may be found side by
side. Nonetheless, the campus has acquired a special character:
it is an "academic crossroads" where people from twelve
schools and many disciplines rub shoulders and share ideas. Its
character is set by the density of schools and buildings, the scale,
materials, and proportions of its older structures, and the green
matrix of landscape extending outward from Blanche Levy Park.
Campus Development Plan, prepared by the Olin Partnership and collaborators
and adopted by the Trustees in 2001, sets guiding principles and
recommendations for future development. Each new building and site
improvement project should be consistent with the plan, or carries
the burden of showing how it improves upon the plan. The following
document addresses the principles common to all buildings and sites
within the University, while the Site Development Guidelines within
the Campus Development Plan set parameters for certain suggested
basic guidelines and principles are an integral part of the Campus
Development Plan. They outline the ways that new buildings and open
space should take account of neighboring structures, and
serve the population intended. They also outline a design and review
process that ensures that the specific surroundings and the campus
as a whole are taken into account in each new building project.
and Spaces that Promote Intellectual and Social Exchange
purpose of a campus is to bring together diverse people and their
ideas in an environment that creates potential for intellectual
and social exchange. While the physical character and quality of
a campus is defined by both its buildings and its open space, it
is the open space which has the greatest potential for unifying
and equalizing the shared space of the campus. It can promote the
sense of community derived from actively shared space, and provide
for the enriching experiences of both planned and chance encounter.
Comprised of streets, walkways, greens, courtyards, plazas, gardens
and playfields, open space has the potential to knit together the
diverse elements of the campus in a coherent way.
buildings should also be designed to maximize the opportunities
for social and intellectual exchange. Public spaces should be generous,
provide places for conversations, and be visible to those using
buildings and passing by them. Each school should have both indoor
and outdoor spaces suitable for gatherings and social occasions.
While there will always be pressure to maximize the proportion of
dedicated spaces in buildings, their success will ultimately depend
upon balancing the public and private spaces.
should be in scale with the surrounding structures, and the streets
and public ways that are adjacent to them. Typically, structures
should not be taller than approximately 75 feet fronting on major
east-west streets (Spruce, Walnut) and approximately 50 feet fronting
on pedestrian ways such as Locust Walk, Hamilton Walk or Smith Walk.
If portions of the buildings must be taller, they should be
set back a minimum of 15 feet from the street wall, with lower portions
facing the street. On north-south streets, building heights should
relate to the predominant heights of existing structures. Care should
be taken not to cast shadows on open spaces or important walkways,
particularly during the daylight hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
structures should mediate the impacts of existing tall structures,
by being intermediate in height, and buffering ground level walkways
and open spaces from winds.
materials have been used on campus over the years, and to good effect.
The large number of dark brown brick buildings (e.g. The Quad, Irvine
Auditorium, and the University Museum) are complemented by
buildings whose predominant materials are red brick (e.g. Fisher
Fine Arts Library and Hayden Hall), green serpentine ashlar
masonry (e.g. College and Logan Halls) and cream ashlar masonry
(e.g. the Annenberg School.)
brick establishes a general tenor for the campus, while complementary
materials are used successfully--and in some cases dramatically--to
signal the different functions and ownership of buildings and to
take advantage of particular sites and other design opportunities.
While there should be no hard and fast rule, the presumption is
that this pattern should continue, and that dark brown brick will
be the point of departure for new structures. The historic buildings
utilizing this brick usually feature burned brick headers and limestone
trim giving the buildings an individual richness as well as the
appearance of campus accord. Architects and designers are encouraged
to thoroughly explore and expand on this basic vocabulary, and to
find ways to contribute to the interplay of materials and textures.
construction need not duplicate these historical features, however
consideration should be made towards achieving a similar richness
through the detail and fenestration of individual facades. For example,
both Hill House and the Richards Building use the dark brown brick
in unique and modern expressions, while being comfortable neighbors
to the surrounding historical buildings.
residential structures should use materials that are warm (such
as brick and wood) and should be of a scale and proportion appropriate
to living spaces. They should reinforce the social patterns being
promoted through the system of college houses.
structures adjacent to the campus may depart from the predominant
campus materials, but should be respectful in other ways (program,
scale, contribution of life onto streets, etc.) to the campus,
and should not overwhelm their residential or commercial neighbors.
campus buildings are seen from perimeter streets as well as the
campus interior, and lower ones from above as well, and should be
designed so that they contribute to the buildings, streets, and
pedestrian ways on each side.
entrances should be visible to those arriving on the campus, and
should contribute to the life and activity of streets and walks.
Where buildings front on public streets there should be public entrances
and attractive, open streetscape facing the street.
entrances are frequently the meeting places, and gathering places
of those using buildings, and should be designed to encourage interaction.
academic activities of the University, in so far as they are compatible,
should be visible to passers-by. Windows should be placed to light
and provide views to internal spaces, but also to give walks and
streets the security and richness that derives from the visibility
of adjacent activity. Highly reflective or deeply tinted glass should
not be used on the campus.
Streetscape and Signage
should be sited and designed to form lively and secure public ways,
that have surveillance from occupants throughout the day and night.
The object is to provide spaces that are defensible and used.
project should take responsibility for improving adjacent streets
and pedestrian ways, by including funds in its budget to bring these
up to campus standards. The campus palatte of landscape materials,
walkways, lighting, signage and street furniture must be used on
all public spaces that are part of building projects. These
elements should be used to create both active gathering and contemplative
spaces, and to reinforce linkages and gateways within the campus
and at its edge. Spaces that are courtyards of individual schools
or buildings can depart from these guidelines to some extent, but
only if it is necessary to convey special identity.
project should provide secure bicycle parking areas. Residential
projects should provide these areas internally, where possible.
University is committed to providing equal access to all buildings
for those with disabilities, and to doing so in a dignified manner.
All new construction must comply with the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) guidelines. Renovations of historic buildings
should seek to improve access for disabled persons in a manner compatible
with their historic integrity.
and Mechanical Facilities
devoted exclusively to building loading and services, to the removal
of trash, or to mechanical equipment should be designed so that
their visibility from public areas, including walkways, is minimized.
Rooftop mechanical equipment should be enclosed in structures that
are integrated into the building design. Acoustic mitigation
should be required to ensure the quality of the pedestrian environment.
on the campus reflect many styles, and the essential quality of
the campus is one of buildings that speak in their own voice about
their purposes and the era in which they were built. It is the landscape
and public spaces that integrate these buildings into a coherent
buildings should express the aesthetic ideas of our times, so that
as we look back on them they also become a cultural record of ideas
about architecture and campus life. Penn's finest older buildings
(as examples, the Quad, the Fisher Fine Arts Library, Hayden Hall,
Hill House, the Richards Memorial Research Building) are admired
internationally for their contributions to architecture and campus
design. The University should engage architects who are recognized
leaders, and aspire to design each structure so it not only suits
its occupants and addresses its physical and historical context,
but also contributes to ways of thinking about buildings.
for Cultural Resources
of the existing structures on campus have local, regional or national
historic significance, and are included on the corresponding registers
of historic structures. Portions of the campus are included in locally
designated historic districts. An inventory of all campus buildings
has been prepared by the University, outlining each structure's
level of importance as a cultural resource, and the specific aspects
of the buildings that deserve special protection. New buildings,
or adaptations to existing structures must take this into account.
noted below, a special subcommittee on cultural resources will review
all projects that have a bearing on culturally significant buildings
before moving forward to obtain city or state permits. Restoration,
renovation, or additions to many buildings on campus will require
review and approval by the Philadelphia Historical Commission. The
responsibility of the Cultural Resources Committee goes beyond the
Historical Commission and includes changes to building interiors,
which the city is unable to review.
of Art in Buildings
University has a percent-for-arts policy, and each new building
project should include a budget and program for works of art. These
may be integral to the building (e.g., murals or artistic expressions
in spaces), works purchased for permanent display in particular
locations, or works commissioned for the structure. Whenever possible
projects should strive to create new art that advances the way we
think about the world we inhabit.
Use of Energy and Natural Resources
project should undertake a comprehensive analysis to diminish the
use of energy and reduce the use of non-renewable resources. The
University intends to be a leader and champion of environmentally
sensitive design, demanding innovation and creativity from our design
consultants and helping to educate our community.
University is committed to creating a campus environment that moves
beyond merely sustainable, to one that actively improves the quality
of life and the environment for its users. Our goals include:
dependence on nonrenewable resources by using appropriate recycled
materials and by promoting adaptive reuse of existing structures
marginal energy costs by promoting selection of locally manufactured
or fabricated products and materials
new structures mindful of orientation, shading and the effect
on adjacent buildings and spaces
landscape design to create healthy and ecologically appropriate
spaces, provide pleasant outdoor environments, reduce exterior
lighting demand and minimize stormwater runoff
maintenance and operating costs by employing whole-systems lifecycle
evaluation to determine the true project costs, and by integrating
innovative daylighting and building engineering solutions at project
indoor environmental quality
Adopting monitoring, measuring and feedback systems to establish
baselines of energy usage and building performance, against which
the University can evaluate improvements and set goals
for future projects
building flexibility to satisfy the varied demands of current
and future users and residents
energy consumption of building and site systems (HVAC, hot water,
lighting) through the use of appropriate mechanical and construction
technology (natural cooling, light recovery, passive solar design,
construction, as well as design, process should also respect these
Renovation and Upgrades to Existing Buildings
is the intent of these guidelines to encourage responsible stewardship
of all existing University buildings. Each renovation project, therefore,
should include an investigation of all aspects, systems and features
impacted by the specific intervention. Conditions discovered during
project evaluation, design or construction that are in need of improvement
cannot be ignored. Even in cases where budgetary or schedule constraints
necessitate only a partial remediation, any building deficiencies
brought to light are to be examined and documented so that they
may be addressed at a future time.
Design Review Process
of the Trustees
Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania have final responsibility
for reviewing and approving all building projects on the campus.
Their facility planning committee reviews projects, offers constructive
advice, and ultimately recommends to the full board of Trustees
that projects be constructed. The Trustees are also advised in this
decision by the President, Provost and campus Design Review Committee.
Design Review Committee and Cultural Resources Sub-Committee
Design Review Committee is chaired by the dean of the Graduate School
of Fine Arts, and consists of the Vice President for Facilities,
the University architect, the University planning consultants, several
faculty members who are design professionals, and outside architects
drawn from the extended University community. The committee's
role is to advise the President, Provost, Executive Vice President
and Trustees on the merits of projects being designed for the campus.
The Committee meets monthly, and on special request in case of critical
art projects on campus, the Design Review Committee may create a
special subcommittee that may include faculty and administrators
beyond the Committee, to provide advice and guidance to the artists
involved, and to recommend approval of promising projects to the
appropriate deans, the President and the Trustees. This subcommittee
will coordinate its work with The Office of the Curator, and its
Art Advisory Committee, to review proposed art project and evaluate
its suitability and maintenance requirements.
University also has a Cultural Resources Subcommittee, which was
mandated by an agreement between the University, the Philadelphia
Historical Commission, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.
It is charged with reviewing all projects that affect buildings
of historical importance on the campus, or within designated historical
districts. The Subcommittee, chaired by the dean of the Graduate
School of Fine Arts, includes several faculty experts on historic
preservation, a representative of the Provost's Office and
the executive director of the City of Philadelphia Historical Commission.
It meets monthly, and forwards its recommendations to University
officials and the Trustees, and to the Philadelphia Historical Commission
and/or State Historic Commission.
Design Review Process
1: Briefing of the Architect and Design Team
information package will be provided to the design team following
its selection including:
studies done for the project prior to a capital commitment
Campus Development Plan
guidelines (this document)
and easements on the site
available (such as central heating and cooling lines)
and vehicular circulation patterns
locations of service access
of any other proposed projects in the immediate vicinity
the outset of design, the design team, client representatives and
user representatives will meet with the University architect and
the campus Design Review Committee to discuss the ground rules for
design. This meeting will seek to identify special architectural,
historical, environmental and functional considerations that will
be important to ensuring that the building contributes to overall
campus development objectives.
2: Design Framework
of campus buildings should photograph the surroundings, research
the history of structures adjacent or on the site, and draw from
these investigations a set of principles as to how the structure
should relate to its surroundings. This may include heights or cornice
lines to be respected, open spaces or walkways to be maintained,
predominant materials to be used in the building so that it harmonizes
with its surroundings, scale and building envelope language, and
other contextual factors.
on this analysis, and on the issues discussed previously, the designers
should prepare a "design framework", describing (at least):
Analysis of the fit of the program and the site
and bulk possibilities
of pedestrian and service entry
materials palettes and details
level expression, program, and relationship to adjacent open space
design framework will typically include diagrams, storyboard, and
photo examples, and will be discussed with the Design Review Committee,
the President and Provost, and Trustees' Facilities Planning
Committee prior to or concurrent with presentation of conceptual
3: Schematic Design
schematic design presentation to both the campus Design Review Committee
and the Trustees' Facilities Planning Committee should include
enough of a portrayal of the building in its context so that judgments
can be made of its appropriateness. Typically this will include
elevations with surrounding buildings shown, and renderings and
models of the building in its context. Special attention should
be paid to how the building will be experienced by pedestrians at
ground level, how it will impact public open spaces (such as shadow
and wind patterns), and how it will be seen from surrounding buildings.
attention should be paid to the ground level experience of pedestrians
on campus or on surrounding streets. Perspectives should be shown
from their eye level, and should include adjacent structures and
order for the impact on utility infrastructure to be adequately
planned for, the design team should, at this stage, provide an energy
budget for each project outlining energy consumption, storage, and
recovery; as well as a materials handling plan indicating anticipated
solid waste generation and a strategy for site storage and collection.
4: Design Development and Construction Documents
palettes should be discussed with the Design Review Committee, along
with design development drawings of facades and exterior details.
for ensuring that the agreed upon design principles are respected
during the course of preparing construction documents falls to the
staff of the University Architect and Vice President for Facilities
and Real Estate Services. Where significant departures are necessitated,
proposals may be resubmitted to the Design Review Committee for
advice and opinions.
mockups of wall assemblies should be constructed on the site, so
materials can be compared to adjacent structures, before final material
of public art will be reviewed by the Design Review Committee or
its subcommittee, and the Office of the Curator, for their compatibility
with the architectural and campus context.
Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 6, October 1, 2002