It’s no secret that the University has a major capital campaign in the wings [“Whence the Money?” Mar/Apr], and the implementation of many elements of the master plan will be closely tied to achieving the University’s fundraising goals for that effort. Another big chunk of the estimated cost will come from the Health System. And other parts, particularly the mixed-use developments on Walnut Street, will be financed through a variety of leasing arrangements similar to ones the University has used in the past for the Left Bank apartments and projects now under way on Chestnut Street at 34th and 40th streets.

The overall price tag is an estimated $6.7 billion, spread out over the 30 years of the plan’s four projected phases. The first two phases, which will take about a decade to complete, should cost $3.8 billion in current dollars, according to Craig Carnaroli W’85, Penn’s executive vice president. Of that, the University (non-Health System) share will be about $900 million, anticipated to come from fundraising (44 percent), the University’s operating budget (18 percent), long-term debt (28 percent), and grants and government support for infrastructure elements (10 percent). Another roughly $1.5 billion will come come from the Health System to support its expansion, and the rest will be “third-party money,” says Carnaroli, in projects involving commercial development.

The plan is organized around what the executive summary calls four “bridges of connectivity”—some purely metaphorical, others physical. These include a “living/learning bridge” on Walnut Street; a “sports/recreation bridge” encompassing the new fields, field house, and Franklin Plaza and Promenade; a “health sciences/cultural bridge” at South Street, where the medical campus and Penn Museum meet; and a “research bridge” to encompass future expansion of the medical campus.

This led to the overall theme of “Penn Connects” for the plan, which President Gutmann embraced with characteristic enthusiasm. “I’ve emphasized from the beginning how important it is to break down silos,” she says. “Another way of expressing that is to connect—to connect our 12 different schools, to connect ourselves even more with the community than we’re doing now.”


“We are living NOW with the flying waste paper of Woodland Avenue, the roar and rattle of traffic at all hours of the day and night … We are the ones who must contend with the eyesores which now dot the campus, —the repellent parking lot at 37th and Woodland Avenue, the shacks which serve as stores along 37th Street, the old dormitories familiarly known as the “barracks” … Anything and everything uses our campus as a thoroughfare.”

—Daily Pennsylvanian editorial, May 15, 1937

This excerpt from the DP, reprinted in the Gazette, gives a vivid picture of the campus some 70 years ago—before Woodland Avenue was closed to traffic, Locust Street became Locust Walk, and Blanche Levy Park and other landscaping projects of the 1970s created the College Green and campus we know today. In recent decades, renovation projects in the Quad and the high-rise college houses, the Perelman Quad and Wynn Commons, the Penn Bookstore and Inn at Penn, and new academic facilities such as Huntsman Hall, Levine Hall, and the McNeil Center, among others, have furthered enhanced the environment.

That transformation of the campus “really resonates with people” says Carnaroli, who has been sharing various iterations of the east-campus plan with audiences for months, including presentations to the Alumni Board and Council of Representatives and other alumni groups. “When you show people Woodland Walk from the 1940s and you show what it is today, it plants the seed that positive change is possible,” he adds. “There have been these historic opportunities in the University’s past to embrace change and adapt the campus to the wonderful urban place it has become, and we’ve seized those moments.”

Gutmann takes the analogy back even further—to the early 20th-century expansion after Penn moved to West Philadelphia, when the University became an institution of national note. “Without that expansion, with major building and the creation of the academic core, we would not be where we are today,” she says. “This is, to the 21st century, what the early 20th-century expansion was to Penn.”

Penn has been eying the postal lands at least since the early 1980s, and with increasing interest as postal officials went forward with the relocation of mail-handling facilities to a site near Philadelphia International Airport, but the $50.6 million deal wasn’t made until near the end of President Judith Rodin CW’66 Hon’04’s term in office—and, of course, Penn won’t actually take possession of the land until this spring.

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©2006 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 08/31/06

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COVER STORY: New Campus Dawning
By John Prendergast

Over the next 30 years, the east campus plan will bring the University nearly to the Schuylkill with a mix of playing fields and building construction—and will transform Walnut Street into “the consummate mixed-use neighborhood.”

Photography by Blll Cramer
Architectural renderings courtesy Sasaki Associates