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Rendering from Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Architects

Penn announced plans in November 2017 to build New College House West, which is projected to cost a record-breaking $163 million and to open on the high rise field in fall 2021.

While some elements of the design have yet to be finalized, new details have just been made available, which will give students an idea of what to expect from the new college house.

NCHW will host 450 students and will be open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. All apartments will be suite-style, as in New College House, with sizes ranging from three-person to six-person suites.

There will be no single-room suites in NCHW, and Executive Director for Business Services Doug Berger and Director of Communications and External Relations Barbara Lea-Kruger were unsure if there will be double-room suites.

Credit: Winnie Xu

NCHW will have four faculty house dean apartments, a large multi-purpose room, a coffee bar, a wellness space, club and group study rooms, and a community kitchen, Lea-Kruger said. She added that the exact numbers and types of the amenities may still vary. 

The bathroom configuration will be similar to that of Hill College House, post-renovation. While NCH bathrooms have the shower, sink, and toilet in one place, NCHW will separate them so that residents can multitask, Berger said.

Like NCH, however, the apartments will not have a fully functioning kitchen but will instead have a sink, counter, and mini fridge, Lea-Kruger said.

The building will also have air conditioning and a dining hall, an amenity that Penn President Amy Gutmann insisted on, Berger and Lea-Kruger said.

Berger and Lea-Kruger emphasized that much of this is not set in stone and funding still needs to be approved by the Board of Trustees. The vote is scheduled for next month.

“Design-wise, things are still being worked on,” Berger said, adding that the architecture firm is still finalizing design and construction documents. “We are still, basically, in final design."

Credit: Winnie Xu

Lea-Kruger said she did not know what residential programs New College House West will have. Berger also said he did not know where or how the faculty team will be selected. 

The annual cost of living in the new building will be $10,200, the same as living in other on-campus standard rooms — singles, doubles, triples, suites, apartments without kitchens, and apartments with shared bedrooms. 

The college house rent fee has increased by about 4 percent each year since the 2016-2017 academic year, according to published rent rates from Residential Services.

Penn has invested $425 million in Residential Services since 2004. But the upcoming project will cost more than the renovation of Hill and the construction of NCH, which respectively cost $80.5 million and $125 million.

College senior Dominique Thomas said she thought the addition of a dining hall on the west side of campus would be positive.

“Hearing that it has a dining hall is really cool because Commons is the only [dining hall] on this side of the campus," Thomas said. She added that, given her past experience in Harrison, she hoped that there would be kitchens inside the suites.

All these renovations and constructions are part of Penn Connects, a development plan for Penn's campus that was launched in 2006. The latest plan, set forth in 2017, is the third version and will last until 2022.