Housing at Penn has undergone significant transformations over the years. From the earliest on-campus housing in the Quadrangle to the newly-renovated Hill College House, The Daily Pennsylvanian explored just how much Penn dorms have changed.
The High Rises
The high rises were built in the early 1970s and house almost 2,400 undergraduate students. The land between 38th and 40th streets – once referred to as the "Superblock" and now called Hamilton Village – was purchased by the University in 1968. In the 1960s, Penn housing officials said that the University didn't want to build the high rises, but the issue of "too many students and too little land made the skyscrapers necessary."
The Quad, which runs alongside Spruce Street, was built in 1895 and was designed by the Philadelphia-based architectural firm Cope and Stewardson. It is home to three College Houses: Fisher Hassenfield, Ware, and Riepe, and consists of 39 individual houses. While it was an all-male dormitory for decades, women were finally allowed to live in the dormitory starting in the early 1970s. Today, It houses approximately 1,374 first-year students in singles, doubles, and triple rooms. The Quad also features McClelland Dining Hall, a dining facility in which students can use dining dollars and meal swipes.
Hill College House
Hill College House was listed in The New York Times' "Dorms You'll Never See on the Campus Tour" in 2015. The building, which houses nearly 500 freshmen each year, underwent an $80.5 million renovation from May 2016 to August 2017. It was originally designed by Eero Saarinen, who also designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Mo. and Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C. The recent renovation brought insulated walls, air conditioning, and new elevators to the 59-year old building.
Stouffer College House
Mayer Residence Hall was built in 1964 and was the first building on Penn’s “Superblock.” It was named after Harold C. Mayer, a 1915 Wharton graduate and a senior partner in the Wall Street firm Bear Stearns. Located on 38th and Spruce streets, the seven-story building was originally a residence hall for graduate students and their children. In 2002, however, it was controversially converted to an undergraduate hall as a part of Stouffer College House. Mayer was last renovated in 2012, when it received new bathrooms, kitchenettes, and new furniture. Most recently, it was notoriously the location of three arson incidents between 2016 and 2017.
The Stouffer building of Stouffer College House, located diagonally across 38th Street from Mayer Hall, first opened to students in 1972 and was one of Penn's first college houses. The building was also home to Stouffer Commons, a dining hall that was controversially closed in 2002 and has since been replaced by administrative offices and the Platt Performing Arts House.
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