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The Perry World House will open in September after construction finishes in May.

Credit: Cindy Chen

The mess of tractors and metal beams on Locust Walk is finally taking form. 

The house, which will become the Perry World House, is set to open in September after construction finishes in May. Once opened, it will function as a home for everything international at Penn.

“The Perry World House will create an interdisciplinary university-wide home for international affairs ranging from research, to foreign speakers, to a hangout space for students,” Perry World House Director William Burke-White said. “It’s more than just a building. It’s a home for anything international in nature."

Plans for the house have been in place for more than three years following a donation from Richard and Lisa Perry. The space, located at the heart of campus — directly across from 1920 Commons — will include research labs, lecture halls and hangout spots. 

Built on the site of an old fraternity house, architects tried to create a plan for the building, which would allow for dynamic new spaces as well as maintain the character and history of the house. “Connecting the old space with the new building has been one of the most important and most challenging aspects of construction," Principal Planner in the Office of the University Architect Mark Kocent said.

Directors hope the house will offer a space for the Penn community to discuss what it means to live in a globalized and interconnected world. “At the Perry World House, we will try to break down the barriers that separate us. If you’re a student or faculty member, it doesn’t matter what you study or where your passion lies, we want everyone to be able to come to here and talk about the world they live in,” Burke-White said. “We hope to create an open conversation and a space that is truly innovative and interdisciplinary.” With the opening of the house will also come the Perry World House Affiliates Program, which will allow Penn undergraduates interested in foreign affairs to interact with policymakers and conduct research of their own.

The house will also be a home for foreign professors to come and do research at Penn. “The space will allow professors from anywhere in the world to visit here and do research with Penn people and give a new global perspective when they give their talks to our community,” Facilities and Real Estate Services Executive Director of Design and Construction Management Michael Dausch said.

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