A new page for Penn University

Nick Myall
Tuesday 13 Sep 2016

The Bohlin Cywinski Jackson-designed New College House at the University of Pennsylvania will open this autumn

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson has announced the opening of New College House, the University of Pennsylvania's first purpose-built college house in Penn's college house system designed to bring together undergraduates, faculty, staff and graduate students in a shared community. Penn will officially celebrate the opening of New College House with a ribbon cutting ceremony on September 13.

Designed to enrich the academic life of its students and embody the vibrancy of its urban setting, New College House is poised to enliven the campus experience for the 21st century and beyond. The first residents in the 198,000 sq ft building moved in on August 24.

Bounded by Woodland Walk and 34th and Chestnut streets, New College House frames a critical gateway to campus. The design preserves vital open space and welcomes visitors to the campus along the 125 Years of Women at Penn walk with a generous lifted lawn. Secured by a tall, transparent gateway pavilion, the entrance sequence into the New College House passes through a garden courtyard, which is encircled on three sides by the building. The fourth side connects visually with the top of the sloping lawn, doubling as the dining cafe's green roof and, for its full extent, as a grand public open space for the entire campus.

Inside the seven-story building is an array of interconnected rooms, all with distinct spatial qualities and characteristics that foster diverse social and learning activities. Suite-style residences accommodate 350 students, along with living spaces for faculty, graduate students and fellows, house deans and residential advisors. In addition to shared common areas, New College House has dedicated spaces for music, a media centre, seminar rooms, and administrative offices.

"In this city of neighbourhoods, we sought to embrace the many scales of community that define the collegiate experience unique to Penn," says Frank Grauman, design principal from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson's Philadelphia office. "The New College House is, therefore, both inviting and secure, open and private, embodying the comfort of home, and the power to form a campus gateway worthy of this place."

The building's façade consists of brick and limestone, which is punctuated by vertical glass towers revealing interior circulation and lounge spaces with views of Penn's surrounding campus community and Center City. The house's design with materials and operations is targeting a LEED certification of Silver or greater.

"The building delights on so many levels-its marvelous integration of public and private open space, its sophisticated approach to fostering communities at multiple levels, its integration with the urban fabric, its deft use of materials, its craftsmanship, and, in particular, its assured manipulation of scale, which breaks down what is actually an enormous building into multiple integrated parts at human scale," describes David Hollenberg, University Architect. "The New College House will, we believe, instantly become an integral part of the landscape of residential living at Penn."

Nick Myall

News editor

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United States

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