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Penn plans to construct a guesthouse at 3808-3810 Walnut St. to host events and VIP guests. The guesthouse will replace the Marks Family Writing Center.  (Rendering from Facilities and Real Estate Services)

A guesthouse to host events and University guests will be constructed at 3808-3810 Walnut Street, where the Marks Family Writing Center is currently located. 

Penn President Amy Gutmann said at a Board of Trustees meeting on June 13 that the need for a guesthouse arose due to the lack of space available at the President’s House, which hosts more than one event on average each week during the academic year. With the design and development almost complete, construction is set to begin in September 2019 with an anticipated completion date of January 2021, according to the Facilities and Real Estate Services presentation slides at the Trustees meeting. The building has a $22.7 million budget and is expected to have 17,000 square feet of space.

Gutmann said at the meeting it is “unusual for our peers” to not have a guesthouse on campus. 

“We are in dire need of having a dedicated guest and meeting space for the University,” Gutmann said.

Gutmann added the small size of the President's House will make it "difficult" for future Penn presidents with larger families to fit into the house. The President's House currently only houses Gutmann and her husband. The house is 13,975 square feet, according to the FRES website

University spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that the guesthouse “will be used to welcome dignitaries to campus, provide a place for strategic meetings and Trustee gatherings, and host special events."

Executive Director of Design and Construction at FRES Mike Dausch said the writing programs currently housed at 3808-3810 Walnut St. will be relocated to the McNeil Building, located on Locust Walk and currently undergoing renovations. 

Dausch added the renovations for the guesthouse will include an additional 2,500 square feet of space, elevator, and staircase on the rear side of the building facing Perry World House. The parking lot on the east side of the building will also be converted into a garden space. 

“It will look still very much the same on the north but on the south side of the building facing Perry World House and Locust, it will be a very much contemporary addition,” University architect Mark Kocent said.

According to the Board of Trustees meeting, the location of 3808-3810 Walnut St. was chosen by the University in part because of its proximity to the President’s House located at 3812 Walnut St.

“[The guesthouse] will play an important role in the University’s ability to accommodate speakers and dignitaries attending their events, as well as partnering with other schools and centers for their activities across campus," MacCarthy said.

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