Penn announces $ 94 million project to renovate Sansom Place East graduate student dormitory



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At a June 10 meeting on real estate facilities and services, Penn announced a $ 94 million project to renovate Sansom Place East, the only graduate student dormitory on campus, by the summer of 2023. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Among the many construction projects currently underway on campus, Penn just announced a $ 94 million project to renovate Sansom Place East – the only graduate student dormitory on campus – by summer 2023.

On June 10, Facilities and Real Estate Services hosted a meeting to brief administrators and members of the Penn community on new construction plans on the Penn campus. The meeting, which brought together around 70 participants, consisted of presentations presenting each new construction project. Presenters included principal architects, the dean of the Graduate School of Education and the chief directors of FRES.

One of the biggest and most anticipated projects is the renovation of Sansom Place East, which includes six main sub-projects, including the construction of a transitional space, a central plaza, a rear lounge, an intimate living room, a quiet study courtyard and a “grill and chill” terrace.

In recent years, graduate students have raised concerns about living conditions at Sansom Place East, citing faulty appliances, pests and a general lack of cleanliness. The announced renovation comes nearly two years after administrators held focus groups with graduate students following numerous complaints.

FRES aims to replace the windows and completely renovate the interior rooms of the building, as well as to enlarge the new hall to provide more natural light. The dorms will be equipped with washers and dryers and will be fully furnished, according to presenter Bruce Adelsberger of Barton Partners, an integrated design firm.

Project managers will strive to protect the original architecture of the building itself while creating a modern and affordable residence for graduate students, Penn’s Vice President of Business Services Divisions Marie Witt and Senior General Manager university partnerships for Greystar, a real estate developer, Julie Skolnicki, mentioned.

The main goal of the Sansom Place East renovation is to create more affordable places to live for graduate students, Witt added.

Sansom Place West had been closed due to a lack of interest in housing for graduate students. During the spring semester of 2021, the building housed students who tested positive for COVID-19 and who were to be isolated and quarantined.

In addition to renovations at Sansom Place East, FRES is working on a variety of other construction projects, including renovations on the Graduate School of Education building and Pennovation Works.

This summer, work continues on the renovation and expansion of the GSE building, which is located near Locust Walk on 37th Street. The project will connect the GSE building and Stiteler Hall, a neighboring building, and is expected to be completed in September 2023, according to FRES.

As part of the renovations, a new entrance will be added to the GSE building, as well as relaxation areas, multi-purpose classrooms, a student lounge and the “Catalyst @ Penn” innovation lab, according to a presentation by GSE Dean Pam . Grossman and Philip Chen of Ann Beha Architects.

Chen added that the new entrance will smoothly connect the two buildings, which make up part of the social science quad. He described the new entry as “more open” and “more transparent”.

At the FRES meeting, Penn President Amy Gutmann described the plan for the new GSE building as a “phenomenal design”.

Penn will also renovate Pennovation Works, a 23-acre site at 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue that is home to 70 resident businesses and nearly 400 employees. Pennovation Works includes the Pennovation Center, the office building, and the lab building, all of which can be rented out by start-ups and researchers, according to the website.

The renovations will include updating parking structures; combining lab, office, manufacturing, storage, flexible event and retail space; and the creation of a new infrastructure plan to follow the Schuylkill River and better increase traffic patterns to the city center, said FRES Vice-President Anne Papageorge.

Pennovation opened in October 2016 and has been renovated several times since. The offices were renovated in 2017, and a laboratory building was completed in 2021.

“The Pennovation Lab will add to the entrepreneurial ecosystem already established at Pennovation Works,” wrote executive director of real estate at FRES Ed Datz in a June 17 email to the Daily Pennsylvanian.

In the past 18 months, 91 construction projects have been completed on campus. The total budget for the projects was $ 1 billion and they brought 420 construction workers to the campus every day, according to the FRES presentation.

There is currently construction work on the Class-of-1949 Generational Bridge over 38th Street, which includes repairs to the brick pavers, Wunder said. Street Walkway, located on high ground in front of Penn Hillel, is currently being upgraded from asphalt to brick.

Some of the other projects, either underway or completed, include construction of the Vagelos Lab, Data Science building, and New College House West, as well as renovations to the Biotech Commons and Quad.

New College House West is currently in preparation for its very first occupation in the fall semester. The project was announced in November 2017 and construction began in November 2018. It is currently the largest construction project underway on campus, said FRES Executive Director of Design and Construction Mike Dausch.

Dausch said the opening of New College House West will have a positive impact on the undergraduate student experience.

Dausch wrote in a June 17 email to the DP that “the additional 448 beds, dining room, and meeting spaces at New College House West will have a big impact on students at Penn, as will the very popular Lauder College House “.

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