Construction projects keep campus buzzing over the summer

Even in the relative quiet of June, July, and early August, some parts of Penn’s campus were humming with activity.

Construction crews remained hard at work during the summer months, tackling both long- and short-term facilities projects.

Three significant projects being built from the ground up are 3901 Walnut St.; the New College House, located on Hill Field; and the Neural and Behavioral Sciences Building, which will sit between the Leidy Labs at 3740 Hamilton Walk and the Carolyn Lynch Labs at 433 South University Ave.

The Current chatted with several staffers from the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES) to find out what crews have been up to in the past few months.

3901 Walnut St.
The project—a six-story LEED gold building located at the corner of 39th and Walnut streets—is scheduled to be completed in April of 2015. Most of the building will be dedicated Penn office space, while the first floor will be retail—though there are no specific businesses attached with the ground floor yet, according to Ed Datz, executive director of real estate in FRES.

“What makes it special is that [the building] is supporting the overall mission and enabling other projects,” Datz says. For example, one future tenant, Penn’s Office of Government and Community Affairs, is currently located at 133 S. 36th St. The office’s current home has been earmarked to become part of the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics. Once the office and others are relocated, work on the Perelman Center will begin.

According to Datz, Penn is working with a development partner, collaborating with the Hankin Group to construct the building.

“They’ll build it according to our specs,” Datz explains, “and deliver the property in a cost-efficient and expedited manner.”

Late this fall, the building’s walls will be closed and crews will begin work on the interior.

New College House
In the fall of 2016, students will have a brand-new living and learning center on the northeastern edge of campus. Crews have done a considerable amount of work on the site in recent months, according to Mariette Buchman, director of design and construction for FRES.

“Over this summer we have done a significant amount of the underground work and most of the concrete that needed to be poured for the foundations at the base of the building is now installed,” Buchman says.

This summer, they also reconfigured the north side of the loading dock at Hill College House, the new building’s next-door-neighbor. Buchman adds that before students returned, FRES staff met with the Hill House Dean to address noise concerns; now that students are back, they plan to be on hand to answer Hill residents’ questions about construction.

The streets that border the New College House, specifically 34th and Chestnut, are major thoroughfares, with plenty of foot, bicycle, and car traffic. Michael Dausch, executive director of design and construction in FRES, says before work began, the construction manager prepared detailed logistics plans outlining impacts on parking and transportation, and submitted those plans around campus and to the city.

Neural and Behavioral Sciences Building
On the opposite end of campus, the Neural and Behavioral Sciences Building, which is set to open in the spring of 2016, will serve as a center of collaboration between the converging disciplines of biology and psychology. As such, it is literally linking the existing Lynch and Leidy buildings.

In the past few months, crews have dug the basement and formed the structural mat-slab foundation, according to Chris Kern, director of design and construction for FRES. This, he adds, will begin to allow crews to pour the concrete for the walls.

“On both projects, what [people] will be seeing this fall are the concrete and steel structures really coming out of the ground,” says Dausch.

To stay up-to-date on projects, visit the FRES website.