BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
by Jean-Marie Kneeley, Vice Dean, SAS External Affairs
Anyone who has visited Penn recently has to be astounded by the physical transformation taking place on campus. State-of-the-art facilities from the Vagelos Labs to the new Wharton building that's under construction; spectacular public space in Sansom Commons; and much needed student areas in the incredible Perelman Quadrangle, the Christian Association, and the Quad have made the Penn campus even more vibrant and attractive.
Much work remains to be done. The School is undertaking two major projects in the next few years at opposite ends of the campus and the range of academic disciplines: a new Life Sciences Quad at 37th Street and Hamilton Walk and a renovated Bennett Hall at 34th and Walnut Streets.
The Life Sciences Quad will be home to the biology and psychology departments, and groundbreaking for the first phase is scheduled for next summer. The new complex will provide over 115,000 square feet of modern research and teaching space, in addition to existing space in Goddard and Leidy labs. The total cost of this two-phase project is estimated at $90 million, and a fund-raising goal for phase one has been set at $15 million. While the cost of completing this new research and teaching facility may seem high, the cost of not doing it is unthinkable.
To maintain our standing as one of the leading research universities in the world, Penn is rightly making this major investment in infrastructure to support our world-class programs in genomics, cognitive neuroscience, and plant and environmental science. The new facility will also serve three of our largest undergraduate majors: biology, psychology, and the biological basis of behavior. To complete the project, we are also renovating the Biopond, a very special oasis of green just off Hamilton Walk. This work, as well as a permanent endowment for upkeep and maintenance, has been generously underwritten by Dick, W'43, and Jeanne Kaskey. In recognition of their remarkable generosity, the University will rename the Biopond the James G. Kaskey Memorial Garden in a dedication ceremony during Reunion Weekend 2001.
At the other end of campus, architects are working on a renovation plan for Bennett Hall. Plans call for the music department to join the English department in what promises to be one of the most beautiful and well equipped humanities buildings on campus.
In a world dominated by the Internet and virtual reality, bringing the very best students and faculty together and providing them with the facilities and equipment needed to explore new frontiers of knowledge remains the hallmark of a Penn education. In our view, nothing can replace the kind of shared learning experience that happens only when people come together.
You will hear more about these projects as our plans develop. We will need to call on the generosity of our alumni, parents, and friends to assist us in our effort to provide facilities that match the quality of our people.