Campus/City: Expanding the University of Pennsylvania

Campus/City: Expanding the University of PennsylvaniaOption StudioInstructors: Julia Czerniak, Victoria BeachProject:The University of Pennsylvania, located in west Philadelphia, is planning to expand its campus onto peripheral industrial lands. This studio will examine this campus expansion, which – outside the historic campus core – provides a remarkable opportunity to explore the forces and forms of the contemporary campus/city simultaneously.Urban academic institutions have complex relationships with the cities that host them. On the one hand, campuses attempt to distinguish themselves from their surroundings through the development of significant building and landscape spaces. On the other, these institutions draw on the strengths of the city and integrate with neighborhood residents, businesses and cultural institutions.This studio project is a nexus for new campus/city alignments.Issues:1. University campuses have historically been venues for the exploration of urban paradigms. We will briefly research this history, then focus on how typologies not normally associated with institutions (like contemporary parks as well as commercial buildings) can organize primary landscape and architectural spaces, and challenge conventional forms of shaped campus environments.2. Landscape and open space – rather than being shaped by buildings as in the traditional quad or green – can be the catalyst to shape architectural formations. More specifically, we will look at how transactions between architecture and landscape can produce innovative green and public spaces that expand understandings of the university. 3. Institutional image. If a student decides within five minutes of arrival whether to apply to a given university, and campus appearance is the single most important factor in this decision, what are the consequences of these new campus/city environments?Site/Program:Although the \”site\” of the studio is the interface of the historic core of Penn\’s campus and center city Philadelphia, design interventions will focus on a swath of industrial land between the current edge of campus and the Schuylkill River. Program is speculative, including significant landscape spaces and – to varying degrees – a \”free enterprise\” zone; housing; campus athletic facilities (playing fields, court sports, a natatorium, a field-house); and space for the growth of academic programs.Studio Organization:The studio will be driven by research of themes including: historic campus spatial development; selected contemporary urban park proposals; innovative campus landscape and architectural projects; and design vocabularies. Recent work by designers for contemporary campus projects – from Eisenmann/Olin to Koolhaas\’s proposals for IIT to Hargreaves Associates work at the University of Cincinnati – suggests provocative ways to rethink the emergence of campus/city relations. Extensive fieldwork in Philadelphia and at the University of Pennsylvania will enable students to construct the sites of their work in sophisticated ways. Design work will be conducted at multiple scales. Depending on individual disciplinary interests, students will diagram approaches for the entire territory and develop, to a high degree of resolution, specific proposals.