Out with the old

Construction at Penn continues this summer with the kickoff of a major project to build a new campus home for the Annenberg Public Policy Center. The new building, designed by noted Tokyo architect Fumihiko Maki, will bring much needed consolidation to the Center, which currently has offices spread between the 3rd floor of the Annenberg School, the 5th floor of 3535 Market Street and Washington, D.C. Since the construction site is on the busy 36th Street walkway between Locust Walk and Walnut Street, much of the planning has addressed ways to keep foot traffic moving with minimal inconvenience.

As Mike Swiszcz, a senior project manager in the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services, explains, the University is taking advantage of this latest construction project to improve infrastructure for 13 nearby campus buildings, with upgrades to electrical and telecommunication systems as well as gas and cooling supply lines. All those utilities will be buried in one very large trench, which pedestrians will bypass via a wooden boardwalk running from Locust to Walnut.

To make way for the new building, demolition will begin this month on the old Hillel building between the ARCH and Charles Addams Hall. By September, says Swiszcz, Hillel will be down, and in October the Center’s foundation will be underway. Occupancy is set for late summer 2009.
With a price tag close to $41 million, the new Annenberg Public Policy Center has been made possible with funding from Lee Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation. Center Director Kathleen Hall Jamieson says that with Maki on board as designer, “this will be a signature building on campus” that will “integrate beautifully” with adjacent structures.

The appearance of the double-skinned exterior will change throughout the day, she says, as the light shifts and as people open and close windows.

Jamieson is looking forward to Public Policy Center staff being able to go back and forth to the School more readily and for students to increasingly be part of research teams. “Right now, they don’t do it casually,” she says. “We want them to feel they can come and go as they like.” The Center will maintain its Washington, D.C. presence.

Originally published July 5, 2007.

Originally published on July 5, 2007