Penn Celebrates New College House With Ribbon Cutting

On Sept. 13, University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann welcomed residents and special guests for a private ribbon-cutting ceremony at the New College House, the University’s first purpose-built facility in Penn’s college house system

Speaking directly to residents, Gutmann pointed to the New College House as a “magnificent achievement” and the latest triumph in the University’s history of firsts.

“Penn is a university of firsts,” said Gutmann. “We are here today to celebrate you, students who are now members of this unique place and this great tradition. Now and forever more, you will be able to point to this amazing building and say, ‘I lived there first.’”

The ribbon-cutting signified the completion of the House at 34th and Chestnut streets. The seven-story, 198,000-square-foot, $127 million project was established through gifts from Stephen Heyman, an emeritus trustee and alumnus, and his wife, Barbara Heyman, and the Lauder Family, including alumni Leonard Lauder, an emeritus trustee, and William Lauder, a term trustee.

The New College House brings together undergraduates, faculty, staff and graduate students in a shared community, which is the goal of the College House system. Currently, 52 percent of Penn’s undergraduates reside within the College House system.

Construction began on the House, designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, in December 2013. It opened its doors to 350 residents on Aug. 24.

The design includes mostly single student rooms collected in multiple-bedroom suites with three-to-six-bedroom arrangements, each with a living room and a private bath. The building is designed with many public and programmatic spaces for social and cultural activities. Built around a private central courtyard, the New College House includes a cafe and a new public pedestrian gateway via Woodland Walk with a lifted lawn.

“The building delights on so many levels with its marvelous integration of public and private open space and its sophisticated approach to fostering communities at multiple levels,” said University Architect David Hollenberg. “The New College House will, we believe, instantly become an integral part of the landscape of residential living at Penn.”

The building’s façade consists of brick and limestone, 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 with a sloping lawn, doubling as the cafe’s green roof.

Furniture and building materials were selected to contribute to sustainability. One-hundred-eighty dining chairs in the student suites are fabricated in Pennsylvania from a total of 20,000 discarded soda bottles. Each coffee table in the student suites is designed and fabricated in South Philadelphia.

The sustainable aspects of the building and the focus on community have a special appeal to Cam Grey, the faculty director of New College House.

“The concept of the building,” Grey said, “and what we’re trying to do with the community here are totally in synch with each other. Landscape architect Michael Vergason deliberately designed the lifted lawn to be embracing the city of Philadelphia. It was actually designed to have its arms open, beckoning and gesturing, grabbing hold of the rest of the city.”

Additional information about New College House is available here.

See more ribbon-cutting photos here:

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