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Quad_HousingGuide
Credit: Carson Kahoe

The Quad will undergo a renovation as part of the University's plan to overhaul major buildings on campus, Executive Director for Business Services Doug Berger said. 

Berger said Penn is currently searching for an architect to lead the renovation, which will likely take place in five to seven years. He added they have not pinpointed an exact start date for construction, but the design for the renovation will be completed by the time New College House West opens.

The opening of NCHW in the fall of 2021 has become a pivotal part of the conversation surrounding student housing. The University announced last week it would require all sophomores to live in college houses beginning with the Class of 2024, when NCHW will be open and ready to house the additional students.The decision has prompted questions and backlash among various communities, especially within Greek life.

Renovations for dorms undergo cycles, the last of which started in 1999 with the Quad renovation and ended in 2017 with Hill College House. The upcoming Quad renovation signals the start of a new cycle of dorm renovations, none of which will be completed by the time NCHW opens in 2021, when sophomores will be required to live on campus.

Construction will take place during the summers, which is typical for dorm renovations, so students will not be disturbed by the work.

The last Quad renovation lasted for four summers and ended in 2002, combining four college houses into three. The renovation included the addition of air–conditioning, historic restoration, landscaping in the courtyards, and the replacement of every bathroom, including toilets and showers.

While the high rise renovation followed the Quad renovation in the last cycle in 2002, Berger said Penn has not made any plans to renovate the high rises any time soon. The last renovation to the high rises started in 2002 and ended in 2010.

"We haven't even gone that far in thinking about when the next time we'll get to the high rises [is]," Berger said.

In the last cycle, the University renovated Du Bois College House, Kings Court English House, and Gregory College House. New College House was built and Hill was renovated in this last cycle.

Berger said that Hill’s renovation marks the end of the last cycle, which is why the Quad will be next in line. 

The actual renovation of the Quad, however, is complicated by its historic designation. Any changes on the outside, including the windows and courtyard, have to be reviewed by the City Historical Society and Penn’s Historical Society.

“We can’t change the look of the structure in any way,” Berger said.

The renovation is part of Penn Connects, a development plan for Penn's campus that was launched in 2006 and that is now on its third iteration. 

Every 25 years or so, most buildings on campus will undergo renovation, Berger said, so the Quad renovation did not require outside approval of any additional funding. The construction of New College House West, on the other hand, was announced as a new project and therefore requires separate funding.

The $163 million NCHW project was announced by Penn President Amy Gutmann in November 2017 but has yet to be formally approved by the Board of the Trustees. The Trustees will vote next month, Berger said.

Still, Berger and Penn Director of Communications and External Relations Barbara Lea–Kruger said they could not yet estimate how much it will cost to renovate the Quad.

In addition to major renovations, Penn will restore and maintain specific parts of other buildings and dorms on campus. For example, every seven years, every building is repainted, including student rooms and hallways. Penn also replaces lounge furniture. Berger said the school replaced some furniture in Rodin this year, which will be repainted soon.

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