What is that red brick wall in front of Franklin?

Dear Benny:
About a year ago, a trailer was placed in front of the Franklin Building, near the southeast corner of 36th and Sansom streets, and next to the trailer a structure is being built. Right now it looks like a large wall. What is this going to be? Is it temporary or permanent? 
— Built to Code

Dear BTC: 
The structure you are asking about is a large stand-alone red brick wall with windows and marble trim that has been taking shape over the past eight months. It connects to nothing and looks like a life-size theater set.

But, according to Mariette J. Buchman, director of design and construction for Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services, it is actually a construction mock-up for the new Golkin Hall addition currently being constructed at Penn Law.

Buchman says mock-ups are often used in potentially complicated or sophisticated construction projects to study or explore the techniques required for construction and/or to anticipate the quality of the final design. She says the Law School mock-up is being used for both these issues.

“We have used it to realize complications of the constructability regarding the juxtaposition of different materials and the intended varied planes and angles of the building,” Buchman explains. “We have also used it to consider and discuss the design aesthetics of the building details as well as the expectations for the quality of the finished products. This particular mock-up is supplemented by other smaller mock-ups and building material samples and panels.”

Golkin Hall, expected to be completed this December, will replace Pepper Hall. The 40,000-square-foot structure will be LEED-certified, making it one of the first law schools in the country designed to meet the green building standard.

When the construction is complete, Buchman says, the mock-up wall in front of the Franklin Building will be dismantled and removed.

Got a question for Benny? Send it via e-mail tocurrent@pobox.upenn.edu or via regular mail to the Current, 200 Sansom Place East, 3600 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106.

Originally published on April 7, 2011