Students returning to Penn this fall will notice that many of the on-campus construction sites and road blocks have evolved into massive new facilities.
Jon M. Huntsman Hall, which has been under construction since 1999, has finally opened its doors to Wharton students.
The $140 million building is located on 38th Street in the area between Walnut Street and Locust Walk.
Huntsman Hall's nine stories and three wings house 57 group study rooms. The building is equipped with state of the art technology and will, according to Wharton administrators, provide greater opportunities for students.
"There is virtually no flexibility in scheduling classrooms in existing facilities, and no dedicated group study rooms -- JMHH will now offer that," Wharton spokesman Mike Baltes said.
"This is a part of larger changes that Penn is making, and JMHH is one of the cornerstones of Penn's development in West Philadelphia," he continued.
Although Huntsman Hall is currently in use, it will not be fully complete until mid-September. Its formal dedication ceremony is slated for October 25 and 26.
While Wharton is starting to make use of its new showpiece, the entire Penn community will be able to benefit from the upcoming opening of the $23.8 million David S. Pottruck Health and Fitness Center.
The four-level center is adjacent to Gimbel Gymnasium on the corner of 3700 block of Walnut Street.
Pottruck was originally scheduled to open in December but that date has been pushed up to Sept. 9 -- good news for Penn students who have a already paid a $200 recreation fee included in this year's tuition, a fee which caused some controversy on campus last semester.
This inaugural fee may seem hefty, but Penn Athletics officials claim the Pottruck Center will give students their money's worth. Offering 17,000 square feet of fitness space, high tech air conditioning and plumbing and various other luxuries, Pottruck is in sync with the latest equipment and amenities of chain fitness clubs.
Patrons of the new center will have access to the building's multi-projector golf simulator, coed sauna, juice bar, pro shop and climbing wall.
"I hope the students appreciate the new facilities. It's a newer, more modern facility to utilize," Penn Athletics spokesman Rich Schepis said.
Further up Walnut Street, construction is still ongoing at Steinhardt Hall, the University's new 35,000 square foot home for Hillel.
Replacing a former Sigma Chi fraternity parking lot and located directly behind the Fels Center for Government, Steinhardt Hall is one year away from completion.
"Certainly we will be moving in September if not sooner," Penn Hillel director Jeremy Brochin said.
The steel infrastructure of the building is already up, and construction has just begun on the inside. The structure will house Hillel's 25 student organizations, a Judaic library, a 300-seat sanctuary, student activities center and a study lounge.
"There will be wonderful relaxing space for students," Brochin said. "The building has an open, warm and celebratory feel to it."
Steinhardt Hall will also bring Penn's kosher dining back to campus, replacing Irv's Place, which is located at 4051 Irving Street.
Hillel's present home is at the Korman Hillel Foundation on 36th Street, a structure that dates back to the 1930s.
The construction of a new center for Hillel has been in development for years and has faced several delays. A $2.5 million naming gift from Judy and Michael Steinhardt helped make the $12 million dollar project a reality.
There is still a great deal of construction ahead, but upon completion, Brochin said he believes Steinhardt Hall should provide greater opportunities for Jewish life at Penn.Comments powered by Disqus
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