The University of Pennsylvania School of Design (commonly known as PennDesign) is the design school of the University of Pennsylvania. It is currently ranked 3rd in urban planning by The Best Colleges, 10th in urban planning by Planetizen, and 8th in architecture and 2nd in landscape architecture by DesignIntelligence.[1][2] PennDesign offers degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, city and regional planning, historic preservation, and fine arts, as well as several dual degrees with other graduate schools at the University of Pennsylvania, including the Wharton School and Penn Law. The School of Design is known for its distinguished faculty, which have included architects Louis Kahn and Robert Venturi and pioneer of landscape architecture Ian McHarg. Denise Scott Brown also graduated from the School of Design in 1960.


Architectural courses were first offered by the University of Pennsylvania in 1868, making the school the second oldest architectural program in the United States. By the turn of the century it was well established, attracting well-known local architects to its faculty: Walter Cope, John Stewardson, Frank Miles Day, and Wilson Eyre, who formed the first Philadelphia School.[3] In 1903, these architects were joined by Frenchman Paul Philippe Cret, winner of seven national competitions.

In 1914, Penn's original initiative was augmented with lectures in city planning and landscape architecture, while within another seven years fine arts and music had joined architectural studies to create an independent undergraduate School of Fine Arts, modeled on the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. The School of Fine Arts joined with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Museum School to offer programs in painting and sculpture. In 1924, Landscape Architecture was made into an autonomous department.

In the 1950s the school was under the leadership of G. Holmes Perkins, recruited from Harvard to reinvigorate the offerings. Perkins, founded the city planning department and focused the landscape architecture program on urban ecology. The Department of Architecture saw the arrival of structural engineers Robert LeRicolais and August Komendant, along with architects Romaldo Giurgola, Robert Venturi, Robert Geddes. He included 1924 Penn graduate Louis I. Kahn among the architecture faculty. A dedicated educator and philosopher, Kahn became the spiritual leader of the revived Philadelphia School at Penn.

In 1958 the School was renamed the Graduate School of Fine Arts, and before long, the GSFA had become a home for the leading figures in each of the disciplines. The City and Regional Planning Department recruited an extraordinary array of faculty including Lewis Mumford, Charles Abrams, Britton Harris, Martin Meyerson, Edmund Bacon, Erwin Gutkind, Denise Scott Brown, and Ann Louise Strong. A renewed Department of Landscape Architecture came under the dynamic leadership of Ian McHarg, while Peter Shepheard, architect, landscape architect, and planner, succeeded Perkins as dean. A Civic Design Program later renamed Urban Design and led by David Crane was established as a joint offering by Architecture and City Planning. The Fine Arts Department became a full-fledged professional program under the leadership of Piero Dorazio, Neil Welliver, and Robert Engman. And in the early 1980s, the school added a program in Historic Preservation. The Graduate Program in Historic Preservation is headed by Randall F Mason. Other faculty include Frank Matero (who is also the Director of the Program's Architectural Conservation Laboratory), David De Long, Lindsay Falck, David Hollenberg, John Brayton Hinchman, Gail Winkler, A.E. Charola, John Milner, Donovan Rypkema, and Michael Henry among many others.

Named Dean in 1996, Gary Hack revived many of the school’s programs, giving attention to the Department of City and Regional Planning by recruiting well known practitioners and academics including Jonathan Barnett, Robert Yaro, Thomas Daniels, Lynne Sagalyn, John Landis, and Eugenie Birch, and the Department of Landscape Architecture under the leadership of James Corner, known for his work through his firm Field Operations on the designs for New York City's High Line and Fresh Kills land fill, and Laurie Olin, Professor of Practice. Frank Matero leads the Architectural Conservation Laboratory (www.conlab.org), and has applied his expertise in conservation to New Orleans, Gordion, Mesa Verde, Bandelier, Philadelphia's Merchant's Exchange and other critically threatened places. The Department of Architecture faculty includes Witold Rybczynski, Marion Weiss, Cecil Balmond, Enrique Norten, Winka Dubbeldam, Detlef Mertins, Ali Malkawi, Manuel De Landa, KieranTimberlake and David Leatherbarrow, while the Department of Fine Arts was strengthened with the addition of painter John Moore, painter Jackie Tileston, artist Joshua Mosley and sculptor Terry Adkins and most recently artist, designer and researcher Orkan Telhan, photographer Nancy Davenport, Ken Lum, David Hartt and Sharon Hayes. As Chair, John Moore brought internationally renowned artists and critics to the School of Design, including Robert Storr, Robert Hughes, Chuck Close and Eric Fischl. In addition, Hack created PennPraxis, the practice arm of the school, whose most prominent projects have been undertaken by its Delaware Riverfront Planning Project and its Center for Affordable Housing. Other associated centers and institutes include the T.C. Chan Center for Building Simulation and Energy Studies, the Center for Redevelopment Excellence (CUREx), and the Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR). In 2003, the school changed its name to the School of Design – known familiarly as PennDesign – to reflect a more accurate description of the School's major concerns and advancements made across a variety of fields.

On July, 1 2016, President Amy Gutmann announced that Frederick Steiner, Paley Professor, was named Dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. He has replaced outgoing Marilyn Jordon Taylor.


The Fisher Fine Arts Library, designed by acclaimed Philadelphia architect Frank Furness, houses architecture studios on the 3rd and 4th floors.

Meyerson Hall is the central hub of PennDesign. Designed by the architecture firm of Martin, Stewart, Nobel & Class, Meyerson Hall was constructed in 1967 in concrete and brick. The total area of the building is 93,780 square feet (8,712 m2).

Located on the site of former Skinner Hall, Charles Addams Fine Arts Hall overlooks Walnut Street across from the University Bookstore. The state-of-the-art facility was named in memory of former Penn student and world-renowned cartoonist Charles Addams (1912-1988). Addams Hall houses student works and studios for fine arts students."[4]

PennDesign also occupies space in the Morgan Building and the Fisher Fine Arts Library's Duhring Wing.[5]


PennDesign's architecture program offers four masters degrees in Architecture, Environmental Building Design, Science, and Landscape Architecture. Its The City and Regional Planning program offer both a Master and Doctor of Philosophy in City Planning, as well as an accelerated B.A./M.C.P. PennDesign also offers Masters in Fine Arts, Historic Preservation, and Urban Spatial Analytics.

Certificates are offered in Urban Design, Historic Preservation, Time-Based Media, Graphic Design, Urban Redevelopment and Real Estate Design and Development. Joint Degrees are offered among all programs in the School of Design, as well as with the Wharton School, Penn Law, School of Social Policy and Practice, Fels Institute of Government, School of Education, and School of Engineering and Applied Science.

See also


  1. ^ Planetizen, The Top Schools for Urban Planners, The Top Schools for Urban Planners, http://www.planetizen.com/topschools.
  2. ^ The Best Colleges, The 10 Best Graduate Programs In Urban And Regional Planning, The 10 Best Graduate Programs In Urban And Regional Planning, [1].
  3. ^ History adapted in part from http://www.design.upenn.edu/new/about/history.htm
  4. ^ "Campus Map". upenn.edu. 
  5. ^ "Campus Map". University of Pennsylvania. 

External links