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COUNCIL: State of the University
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November 3, 2009, Volume 56, No. 10

President Amy Gutmann: Our PIK Professors understand that no single person, however well educated, can possibly integrate all the relevant knowledge needed to address the world’s most difficult problems.

They have met this challenge by distinguishing themselves in their disciplines, embracing teamwork, and welcoming collaboration to the benefit of their diverse fields of interest.

And they are hard at work making the connections and building the teams needed to make significant contributions to our country and our world.

I am very proud of our strides to integrate knowledge at Penn, and I am looking forward to more PIK appointments in the near future.

I’d like to conclude my report on the State of the University with an update on the status of construction projects on campus. We have made tremendous progress over the last few months on several projects that will invigorate campus and provide new space for the Penn community.

I would like to call on David Hollenberg, University Architect, and Anne Papageorge, Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate Services. 

They will complete my report by giving us an update on projects that are near completion or underway.

David Hollenberg, University Architect

It’s a pleasure to be here. I think it’s safe to say that Penn is undergoing a physical transformation that is unlike any in its history. That transformation is attracting design talent from across the country—indeed, from around the globe. Though we could spend a lot of time showing you multiple projects, we want to focus on highlights of projects that are recently completed or in the midst of construction.

It’s worth stepping back briefly, to talk about the Penn Connects plan. The Plan was triggered by the acquisition of the postal lands to the East, but it is certainly not governed by it. That acquisition was the opportunity for us to take a look at the campus as a whole, and that planning was done in accordance with those principles. 

Penn has specifically articulated design principles through which we aspire to do the best buildings of our time. That’s our history. We don’t have an architectural style, we have this architectural principle—to always do our best. So it’s helpful to remember that some of our revered historic buildings were new ones and indeed edgy once, and that we are carrying on that tradition. The priorities in the campus development plan that led to the Penn Connects plan are outlined here, and I think these are all familiar to us as both needs and responsibilities that Facilities is directly responsible for. 

Annenberg Public Policy Center is a very prominent building in the middle of the campus on 36th Street, designed by internationally renowned architect Fumihiko Maki. Its official opening is actually next week, but people have already moved in. Mr. Maki has won the Pritzker Prize, which some say is kind of the Nobel Prize for architects. This building furthers his lifelong work in sophisticated exterior wall systems and a very refined Japanese sensibility that I think shows exquisite detail. This building gets richer the more you look at it. You may have noticed every day that it looks a little different, and the sliding panels on the wood walls can be manipulated by the building occupant. By sliding them, they control not only daylight but also the mechanical performance in each room. So this curtain wall is actually not only beautiful, but functional, and gives a high degree of flexibility to each occupant. 

College House renovations have been going on for many summers and have utterly transformed these major residential high rise buildings. This is a project that accumulates many very small and repetitive gestures in a way that becomes transformative: fixing kitchens, plumbing, lounges, bedrooms, safety systems, windows. Over time these are new buildings, repurposed buildings. We are both thrilled and astonished at the results of this work, very tough work logistically because it all has to happen in only three months every summer.

This summer we extended that skill set to the low rise Du Bois College House. And those of you who know this building know that it has also been utterly transformed by a series of small repetitive moves that add up to something very wonderful. 

Penn Medicine, off 34th and Spruce, is a very significant piece of construction.  It houses both clinical and research activities, and it does so in a way that plans for their interaction. 

The Music Building, on 34th Street, includes rehabilitating an historic building and adding to it. Historic preservation is one of the strong contributors to our Campus’s character, and we are realizing not only how wonderful that is for our physical environment, but how deeply sustainable it is to re-use and repurpose our buildings. It may be one of the most deeply sustainable things we do. The historic building is primarily going to be used for offices for the music faculty. Those uses that have more acoustic requirements are going to be in the addition.

Morris Arboretum is a great asset. They are in the midst of building this horticultural center, which is a prelude to a new educational center. The Arboretum is a great collection of trees and plants from all over the world, which itself has a very rich physical history. This project is going to enable them to do both better maintenance and better education. This is going for LEED certification, which is a measure of sustainability. This particular one, because of the environmental mission of the arboretum, is going for the highest possible certification, Platinum. 

With the Weiss Pavilion, we are enclosing the very large arches on the north façade of Franklin Field to create recreational and training space and also to serve the deeper urbanistic purpose of enlivening the walk from the core of the campus to Penn Park. This has a program very similar to Pottruck.  It will include a retail component with some kind of food service there. The intent is not only to provide this facility, but to enliven this end of the campus and to frame the future remake of the open space in front of the Palestra. 

Penn Park is one of the most amazing projects that’s going on in this city. 24 acres of park. Creating new open space at this scale and this time is astonishing, and a real statement about our commitment to both sustainability and to Penn Connects. This is a gift not only to the campus, but to the city. 

Anne Papageorge, Vice President, Facilities & Real Estate: I would add in closing that these are a sequence of projects that are moving Eastward, and I think it will continue the wonderful green, pedestrian campus that we have, towards the river. When it’s all done, it really is going to be fabulous. All of what we talked about today will be completed by 2011, and we have a few other projects that move into 2012-2014. You can find out about all of this, with regular updates on the Penn Connects website

 

Almanac - November 3, 2009, Volume 56, No. 10