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The University put on display the six designs submitted in its architectural competition. Crescent-shaped building wings that create a large circular plaza opening up onto Locust Walk. High rises with enormous horizontal additions jutting out several stories above the ground. A series of 10-story buildings with a single apartment spanning each floor. This is just a sampling of the architectural proposals presented to the University by the six firms that competed this summer for the residential redesign of Hamilton Village, formerly known as Superblock. The plans, which were released Friday, span a large spectrum of perspectives on how Penn could approach the task of adding 1,000 new beds to Hamilton Village and renovating existing residences to make them more functional as college houses. Two firms -- the Philadelphia-based Kieran, Timberlake and Harris and Vancouver, British Columbia-based Patkau Architects -- were selected earlier this semester from the group of six to determine if specific parts of their designs can be implemented as part of Penn's 10-year, $300 million dorm and dining overhaul. Officials asked the competing firms to focus on creating "a better environment on the ground for students and people who live here," as well as to attempt to "build a very active border for the campus" at 40th Street, Director of College Houses and Academic Services David Brownlee said. Patkau has been asked to design 700 new beds in low- and mid-rise buildings in the northwest quadrant of Superblock based on their competition design, which featured two low-rise college houses -- one north of Hamilton College House and one on the field west of the high rise -- surrounding individual courtyards. Low-rise construction is set to begin sometime in 2001 with the goal of a fall 2003 completion. High-rise renovation will begin then and take about three years. With fireplace-equipped lounges, water courses in each courtyard and an "extremely interesting student room configuration," the firm wowed University officials with its multi-building college houses, Brownlee said. In Patkau's design, four-bedroom apartments -- with bookcases built into each bedroom wall and floor-to-ceiling shutters -- are organized into clusters of 24 students grouped around a common lounge area. "The existing craft of this model is a reflection of the style of these architects," Brownlee said. "This is not machine-age design." The design of the college house to the west of Hamilton also includes a visual arts hub and ground-floor retail on the 40th Street side. Kieran, Timberlake and Harris is currently studying Hamilton to determine if it can be split into two separate college houses of about 400 residents each, with separate lobbies, elevators and public spaces. If successful, the model may be implemented in all three high rises. The firm's design includes two- to three-story skirts around the bases of each high rise, where much of the public space will be concentrated. The skirts are also designed to reduce the wind tunnel effect in Hamilton Village. The firm created additional space on top of each high rise and lounges on each floor jut out from the building to allow light into the corridors. "These are the best views in town, so why not show it?" Brownlee said. While only two firms were chosen to design specific parts of Hamilton Village, more firms may be chosen to lay out other components of the project. "It's the gospel truth to say there's something interesting to learn from every [plan]," Brownlee said. Other firms proposed the creation of medium-sized buildings of eight to 10 stories, an idea Brownlee called a very real possibility. "The more we looked at it, the more we thought this really is an environment where some medium-sized buildings make sense," Brownlee said. And many of the firms worked to make the 40th Street edge of Superblock more inviting to the surrounding neighborhood. Several, including Patkau, reached the goal of "really bringing the community into this whole sector," Director of Housing and Conference Services Doug Berger said. The University encouraged the competing firms to be creative in their designs, while it asked them specifically to explore the possibility of ground floor additions to the high rises and courtyard configurations for the low rise buildings as well opening Hamilton Village up to 40th Street. The six designs submitted to the competition are on display in the Class of '28 Lounge in Van Pelt Library until November 8. A public forum will be held on Wednesday where members of the Penn community can discuss the plans and offer their opinions on how to shape the new face of Hamilton Village.

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