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Inga Saffron Reviews Pennovation

Pennovation BenchesIn her article, “Changing Skyline: At Pennovation, UPenn Creates A Lab For The Social Media Age,” Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic, Inga Saffron, praises the design collaboration of Hollwich Kushner Architects, Bruce Mau Design, and LAND COLLECTIVE, for their work defining the new University of Pennsylvania innovation campus on the southbank of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. Saffron acknowledges the effort as “the intersection between design, branding, media, and social networking” giving the project “a unique, high-profile identity” throughout.

At the onset of the project, LAND COLLECTIVE was offered the opportunity to rethink the intentions of the master plan for the expanse of the site, and with simple, bold moves establishes a narrative in the landscape supporting the dynamism of ideation intended for this new campus. Founding principal, David Rubin, reinforced the value of an expansive, flexible plaza as the central focus of all future construction, starting with the Pennovation Works building.  In the plaza, serendipitous encounters between entrepreneurs from different disciplines offer opportunities for dialogue and the prospect of ideas that might some day “save the world.” From this central gathering space, the energy radiates outward in all directions.

This dynamism is reflected in the plaza’s bold paving patterns, as well as the “sacred” view corridors originating at the plaza that focus upon the intersection of Gray’s Ferry Avenue and 34th Street, as well as upon Center City Philadelphia’s downtown skyline. Hollwich Kushner principal, Matthias Hollwich, responded positively to Rubin’s idea to place the “explosive” facade of the building, originally intended to express itself toward the plaza, on the north side of the building facing the University’s main campus, as if the prospective ideation happening on the plaza pushes through the building to create the faceted facade on the opposite side. As with this first construct, it is hoped that other new campus buildings will have their more dynamic facades facing out, reinforcing for passers-by that something wonderful is happening at the center of this new site for innovation.