The new Meeting and Guesthouse at the University of Pennsylvania will welcome important guests to campus, provide a place for strategic meetings and trustee gatherings, include touch-down space for visiting dignitaries, and host special events. The project transforms a pair of late Victorian townhouses into a 21st century destination that completes a new precinct for visitors to campus, including the adjacent President’s House, the Perry World House, and the Kelly Writers House.
The historic Walnut street façade of the buildings is preserved and updated with repointed brick, a new roof, re-glazed original windows, and repair decorative elements. The primary entrance to the Meeting and Guesthouse is reoriented to the south side of the building facing Locust Walk in a new at-grade, fully accessible addition off a shared motor court. To the east of the buildings, a former parking lot is transformed into a landscaped bluestone terrace for outdoor and tented events. The space is a quiet refuge from the busy 38th Street thoroughfare.
Inside, the new lobby at-grade has floor to ceiling glass window walls that open out to the terrace. A staircase and elevator bring guests up a half level to a conference room that adjoins a flexible meeting and event space. The second floor contains a board room and multi-purpose meeting spaces as well as offices, while the third and fourth floors are more private, with four guest suites and offices for guests to the campus.
The rear and east side of the building feature a new terracotta façade in a tripartite arrangement that reflects the massing of the original building. The material relates to but reinterprets the roman brick of the original building. Transparent and “veiled” glazing creates a varied day-to-night expression for the building and allows it to glow like a beacon. The project is LEED Gold certified.
Deborah Berke Partners
Architect, Interior Designer
Bala Consulting Engineers
Keast and Hood
Surveyor and Civil Engineer
Cerami and Associates