Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania
Originally constructed in the 1960's, the GSE at the University of Pennsylvania typified the challenge facing their efforts to architecturally reconnect the school with the city of Philadelphia. Originally one of four structures organized around a raised, inner courtyard, the building presented its back to the street. Interior space was dim and anonymous, as offices claimed the perimeter daylight.
Work on the building was complicated by the precast concrete panel system used for structural members, walls and floors that severely limited the ability to manipulate the existing architecture. The solution involved two key components.
The first was the relocation of the main entry from the second floor courtyard to a corner on the street. The result, gained by the removal of these wall panels, was maximized by stacking seminar space above the entry lobby and created a glass corner in an otherwise understated exterior façade.
Secondly, four light wells were cut through each of the floors along circulation and informal gathering spaces. These, along with glass conference rooms and office doors bring daylight through the floors both horizontally and vertically, connecting the students and faculty to the outside in ways previously unimaginable.