University of Pennsylvania 1920 Dining Commons

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Construction Cost: $4.9 million
Building Gross Area: 12,000 sq ft
Completion Date: 2012
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Architect: Buell, Kratzer, Powell
Contact: Darrell Kratzer, Kris Powell
Position: Project Architect
Telephone #: 215-557-6509

University of Pennsylvania 1920 Dining Commons is a three level structure located at the Corner of 38th and Locust Walk on campus. It serves as a main cafeteria, a grab and go food option, Food Market, Coffee shop, and Study Lounge. The building is a Cast in Place concrete structure. Over the years and use of the building along with the weather had started to age the exterior and interior of the building considerably. Structurally, the building was sound, but all Finishes and the majority of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems needed to be replaced. The entire middle and lower lever were demolished in order to create a new, stylish, and open concept market and grab and go food option. All the finishes selected were “high end” in order to create the feeling of a hotel or center city food option. The lower level work included a new Starbucks along with a 360 degree fireplace for the students. The main courtyard was also demolished with new pavers, plantings, and a cedar trellis going back in. The mechanical room had all new sump pumps, air handlers, steam system, and motor control center in order to keep pace with the use change to the building. The exterior of the building had seen significant wear on the concrete along with the metal panel façade on the front. All concrete was power washer, patched and re-stained. All the metal panels received the necessary bodywork to bring that back to their original condition and the exterior was repainted with a vibrant color.

Approach and Challenges

The most significant challenge was accomplishing the total renovation during the 12 weeks that they students were on summer vacation. Because the building is a main dining hall, it could not be out of commission during the school year. This scheduled required a team approach between P. Agnes, the owners’ representative, the end users, and the entire design team. Questions, RFI’s and submittals all had to be turned around in record speed in order for the schedule not to slow. The building presented typically problems of an existing structure which can only be identified once the demolition is complete. Adjustments to design and details all had to be modified as necessary for a successful completion.

Contact Us

For more information, contact us online or call us at 215-755-6900.