The home of the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology, also known as Penn’s M&T Program, is getting a major facelift. Slated for completion in the summer of 2017, the program’s reconstructed space near the corner of 36th Street and Locust Walk will offer a new slew of virtues fit for all its coordinated dual-degree Wharton School and School of Engineering and Applied Science undergraduate students.
The renovation project is attainable because of a $7.5 million gift from Larry Robbins, an M&T Program alumnus, who also created a permanent endowed fund to support the new 7,350-square-foot building’s operations and maintenance in perpetuity. The building—Larry Robbins House—will proudly don his name.
“For M&T, we have to talk about the three elements of a business: its viability, its feasibility from the technology side, and its desirability, which is the people,” says Gad Allon, the program’s director. “The building will encapsulate and encourage all of that.”
The Robbins House, designed by architect Studio Joseph, is meant to be contemporary, while also reusing some of the facility’s existing façade. Ryan Rose, project manager of design and construction at Facilities and Real Estate Services, says the team built a steel cage on the interior of the south side of the building to support the front and west façades, while the inside of the building was removed.
“Now we are reconstructing from the inside around the steel structure, which will be removed after completion,” he says.
The building’s three floors, full of natural sunlight, will offer a mixture of offices, study areas, lounge spaces, and a multipurpose seminar room. One of Robbins’ hopes for the building is that it will boost the gathering of M&T minds—academically and socially—outside of the classroom, and subsequently bolster collaboration and innovation.
“The building is about halfway between both the main Wharton and Engineering buildings,” says Rose. “On its first floor, there will be 22 lockers available for students to swap books and an area for them to take a breather in between classes.”
Allon, also the Jeffrey A. Keswin Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions at Wharton, says his vision for reinvigorating the M&T Program is built on the three pillars of community, curriculum, and knowledge, which he believes are all bound to flourish in the new Robbins House.
“This gift from Larry Robbins symbolizes all of that in different ways,” he explains. “It’s a gift from an M&T community member, it’s a central space for students studying the curriculum, and it’s a place where students can be involved earlier in their career and be better exposed to research.”