A Sustainable Engine for Innovation in Philadelphia

The University of Pennsylvania’s new Pennovation Center is a rebel, a futurist, a disruptor. It’s a phenomenon of a building that is also a machine for sparking new growth in the fields of learning, commerce, and community across greater Philadelphia and beyond. What’s more, its bold approach to sustainability that leverages its industrial heritage as an engine for research and learning has earned it a LEED Gold rating.

Pennovation Works — the 23-acre former DuPont industrial site along the Schuylkill River, in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Grays Ferry, is the next generation of innovation. The Pennovation Center, a brick and mortar factory relic, is the site’s anchor building, and a redesigned icon for Penn. With a program that enables entrepreneurs, researchers, and industry partners to translate invention into viable ventures, the Pennovation Center is where ideas go to work.

By centralizing co-working spaces to connect offices, labs, and shared resources, the design, led by Hollwich Kushner as Design Architect and KSS Architects as Architect of Record, allows engineers to break out from their laboratory spaces and work across disciplines and industries. In addition to co-working desking space, the common area includes meeting rooms, social spaces, and a “bleacher” for entrepreneurs to practice their pitches. This central space, above all else, is an area of intersections — where disciplines, theories, and brilliant ideas overlap and collide in a spectacular array of what-if, outside-the-box, next-big-thing thinking and doing.

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