Annenberg on the rise

Text by Tim Hyland
Annenberg Public Policy Center

The new Annenberg Public Policy Center is already making something of a design statement, rising up at 37th and Walnut streets with dramatic glass walls and a striking modern look.

But David Hollenberg says even though Annenberg looks good now, the best is yet to come.

The building’s glass walls may be the feature drawing the attention of passersby today, but Hollenberg says the Center’s true look, and the smart design of Tokyo architect Fumihiko Maki, won’t be revealed until construction is almost complete.

“When it’s done, you’re going to see right through those glass walls, to an interior set of wood walls—beautiful warm, wood walls,” explains Hollenberg, the University’s architect. “If the building right now looks like a glass box, when it’s finished, it’s going to look like a glass box with a wood box inside. But it’s going to be quite late in the process when that wood is installed, so that’s going to be a real surprise to people. It will look almost like … a beautiful musical instrument.”

Fortunately, the Penn community won’t have to wait long for the building’s beauty to be revealed. Hollenberg says construction is moving along as scheduled, and will be competed by this summer. The 40,000-square foot building will bring the Policy Center programs in media and the developing child, political and health communication and information and society together in a single location. The centerpiece of the building will be a large first floor forum space.

“I love the metaphorical aspect of the building,” Hollenberg says. “It looks like what the Annenberg Public Policy Center does—it’s transparent to policy. I also like the way it mediates between Adams and The Arch. The scale just seems really right to me. It’s very elegant.”

The Annenberg project is just one of several ongoing building projects around campus, however, and Hollenberg offered updates on several others:

The Weave Bridge: Work is progressing on this striking $2 million, 190-foot span that will connect the University’s athletic fields near Hollenback Center to the planned 14-acre Penn Park. Hollenberg says delivery and installation of the actual span is likely to take place before the end of the calendar year.

South Street Bridge: Though not a Penn project, the renovation is of huge importance to the Penn community. Starting Dec. 8, the bridge will be closed between Convention Avenue and 27th Street, including the on and off ramps connecting South Street and I-76. But pedestrians accustomed to using the bridge will have another option: The Weave Bridge.

Music Building: This project will restore the building’s historic façade, completely renovate its interior and add a new facility between Chancellor and Smith Walks. Hollenberg says the project is on schedule and set for completion in fall of 2009.

For updates on these and other campus construction projects, visit Facilities and Real Estate Services at

Originally published Dec. 4, 2008

Originally published on .