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The University's new water chilling plant should be up and running tomorrow, University officials said yesterday.

The $65 million dollar plant -- adjacent to Murphy field off the Schuylkill expressway -- will provide Penn with air conditioning and will process cooling water for campus buildings.

Vice President for Facilities Services Omar Blaik said that he was very pleased with the rapidity with which the plant was built, noting that construction only began two years ago under a "tight schedule."

He also commended the building's award-winning structure, which has been featured in Architecture magazine and other publications.

"It's been a great project because it really merges the industrial and engineering with the architecture," Blaik said.

The chiller plant will help support the millions of dollars of construction currently going on throughout campus. A surge in construction at the University in the past several years has included the development of Sansom Commons and renovations in the Dental School.

The facility will provide approximately 27,000 tons of chilled water, bringing the University's overall capacity to approximately 50,000 tons.

With this new chiller plant, though, Penn will be able to retire several older facilities that are too costly to maintain or are environmentally unfriendly.

The equipment is presently being tested so the plant can be up and running by the end of the month, Blaik said.

Blaik added that he was pleased that the building -- entirely University-funded -- came in under its initial budget estimate.

The University built a $24 million water chilling plant on top of the parking garage at 38th and Walnut streets in 1995, and several other chilling facilities are distributed throughout campus.

While Penn's water chilling plants physically cool the water, the University gets its water from the city and distributes it throughout campus.

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