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Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
KPMB Architects

OAA Design Excellence Awards Winner

Energy Efficiency and Carbon Stability

Architects must play a role in stabilizing the climate change crisis, lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in favour of clean power. This year, the OAA required Energy Usage Intensity (EUI) metrics as part of its awards submissions. The lower the number, the less impact the building has on our climate. To learn more, click here.

TEUI:  141.9 EkWh/m²

The 111,140-sf Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics at University of Pennsylvania project involved 54,440 sf of renovation to a heritage building and a 56,700-sf expansion. The building program includes a 120-seat auditorium, classrooms, undergraduate meeting rooms, a forum with a seating capacity of 72, as well as offices for faculty of both the Economics and Political Science departments.

The addition is deeply responsive to the heritage context, yet frankly contemporary in look and feel. The contemporary façades are detailed as geometric, abstract compositions expressing the program within. In an era of digital connectivity, the design reinforces the value of face-to-face exchange for social and intellectual exchange with a series of spatial strategies that facilitate interaction in the broadest sense. To achieve animation through all levels, connections between the new and existing are seamless. The public spaces feature wood ceilings and walls visible from the exterior, enabling a clear reading of the social structure inherent in the design.

Located on the northeast corner of Walnut and 36th Streets, the adaptive reuse and expansion of the circa 1925 West Philadelphia Title and Trust Company is double the size of the original bank building. As Penn’s first major academic development north of Walnut, the design sets an exemplar for future development. Each elevation responds to its orientation and context while maintaining a clear distinction between heritage and new. The Art Deco facade is respected and restored. Abstract compositions of glass and aluminum distinguish the expansion, which is inspired by the vertical proportions of the Art Deco building.

The first requirement was to meet Penn’s LEED Silver minimum. Through an integrated design process, weaving together a series of strategies and systems, the building has achieved LEED Gold certification. Operable windows are provided throughout. The 50-per cent glazed exterior is enhanced with metal and solar shading. The building features water-efficient landscaping, the use of native or adapted vegetation, a 20 per cent reduction in overall water use, and optimal energy performance for heating and cooling. Natural lighting is optimized throughout with strategic applications of translucent and transparent glass windows and walls to achieve a light-filled, connected environment for focused teamwork.

Image Credit: Adrien Williams

Image Credit: Adrien Williams

Image Credit: Adrien Williams
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