Construction is an ongoing process at Penn, and even though the University has recently wrapped up two major projects, the Perry World House and the New College House, the drilling and hammering are far from over.
Along with upcoming commercial development at Hamilton Court and uCity Square, the University currently has seven ongoing construction projects on campus. Some are meant to renovate and upgrade existing buildings, while some — like the upcoming Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics — will be more substantial.
Current Construction on Campus
Facilities and Real Estate Services Executive Director Mike Dausch sat down with the Daily Pennsylvanian to talk about the process of construction at Penn and what we can expect to see in the next few years.
Daily Pennsylvanian: Hill College House is one of the main construction projects happening on campus right now. When did that process get started?
Mike Dausch: [We started] as we were getting into the design on the New College House. The University does not want the appearance or the reality of any buildings being "haves" or "have-nots." So the idea of having the brand new college house next to Hill College House was probably the largest differential on campus, right next to each other. Hill had been around for a while, and it really needed [renovation].
DP: Everyone knows that Hill is getting air conditioning now — but what else is changing?
MD: [We're changing] all of the bathrooms — we’re refiguring them. The whole dining facility’s being redone and all of the lounge spaces ... so although it’s not a brand-new building, when we’re done, we hope that it looks like one. We’re making elevators to make it ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible for every floor now, which was a challenge, because the building wasn’t designed to be accessible back when it was built in the 1950s.
DP: How’s progress?
MD: [Hill] is one of the tightest schedules for all of our projects — the whole project is about fifteen months, from May  to August . To meet the tight schedule, the contractors have been working multiple shifts and working on weekends — we have people basically working around the clock to finish the building in that timeframe.
DP: Even with the changes, FRES seems to be staying true to architect Eero Saarinen's original vision for Hill College House. Is that why much of the exterior for the new Perelman Center is also remaining the same?
MD: David Hollenberg, our university architect, is an architectural preservationist, and so he very closely works with our design review committee to make sure that we keep that historical look, and so a lot of effort went into doing that. We basically gutted that whole building and took the north end off, and we’re extending the whole building over to Sansom Street ... we are pouring concrete right now on the new building and then we’ll be enclosing it. The existing building is limestone and glass. The exterior of the new building is mostly glass, and the windows have some treatments to both bring them in with the existing building as well as to meet our energy efficiency goals.
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