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University of Pennsylvania,
Department of Facilities and Real Estate Services
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MGA Partners, Architects

Photography © Barry Halkin

A pioneering move enlivens a marginalized campus area

—Toshiko Mori, Architect

MGA Partners, Architects www.mgapartners.com

University of Pennsylvania www.upenn.edu

Key Player(s)
CVM Engineers (structural); Marvin Waxman Consulting Engineers (mechanical)

Program: Facility departments at universities typically inhabit uninspiring spaces, and the University of Pennsylvania facilities was no exception. Overcrowded and dispersed among several buildings, the department needed to reshape its image and improve its function. It underwent a major restructuring, intending to demonstrate with its new quarters the value of good architecture and planning in an academic environment. Utilizing the track level of a massive abandoned 1929 railroad warehouse on the eastern end of the campus, the client consolidated the scattered parts of the department into this industrial facility. Additionally, the project revived a vacant industrial quarter of the city, extending the campus boundary eastward toward downtown, providing a center for future development.

Solution: The architecture of this new space is a celebration of the industrial character of the warehouse. The project has brought positive energy to what was previously an undesirable edge of campus, and the perception of the department by the architectural, university, and business communities has significantly improved. The project's success is evident on many levels: A post-occupancy survey revealed increased morale and improved communication, and administrators report greater ease in recruiting and retaining personnel.

The Winners: Abercrombie & Fitch | Allsteel | Cellular Operations | Gateshead Millenium Bridge | Multi-Use Centre | Paul Brown Stadium | Texas Children's Hospital | Toys "R" Us | Trumpf Customer & Technology Center | Univ. of Penn. Dept. of Facilities and Real Estate | Valeo Electrical Systems

The Finalists: Arcs de Seine | Boeing\ Leadership Center | Gasometer B | Hansen Construction Office | ING Direct | KeySpan Park Stadium | Matha Stewart Living

Unbuilt Projects: BMW Event and Delivery Center | Hollister Headquarters