The Pennovation Center

An Icon for Innovation

At the Pennovation Center, we transformed a 20th century paint factory into a 21st century idea factory. The building is the centerpiece of a new, twenty-three acre development at the University of Pennsylvania known as Pennovation Works.

While much of the building is occupied by shared wet labs and efficient coworking areas, key social spaces tempt entrepreneurs to leave their desks and engage with their colleagues. These spaces are tucked into a new angular facade that reaches outward towards the Schuylkill River, featuring a conference room, coworking counter with a view of campus and the city, and bleacher seating where inventors can share ideas, pitch to investors, and gain crucial perspective.

While innovation centers are popping up all over the world, Pennovation is different. Innovation is at its DNA and empowers users to come up with new ideas, meet people to inspire innovation, and pitch to the investor who will make all the difference between an idea and a product that is changing the world.

This Adaptive Reuse project maintains an industrial aesthetic: the architecture is raw and solid so that manipulations can be done without hesitation. Idea creation overrules architectural preciousness.

The building inspires creativity within, while simultaneously telling the world outside that Penn is committed to putting knowledge into action for the greater good. A beacon for the next generation of entrepreneurship in the region, the Pennovation Center will advance the dynamic role of the University as both an inspiration for and a facilitator of cutting-edge invention.

  • Status: Built 2016
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Client: University of Pennsylvania
  • Size: 69,310 SF
  • Scope: SD-CA
  • Performance: LEED Gold
  • Honors: 2017 AIA Philadelphia Design Award; 2017 ULI Philadelphia Willard Rouse Award for Excellence; 2016 Preservation Achievement Grand Jury Award from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia; 2016 Architect's Newspaper Honorable Mention for Adaptive Reuse; 2016 CREW Philadelphia Community Impact Award; 2016 DVASE Outstanding Project for Structural Engineering; 2016 Curbed Philadelphia Best Adaptive Reuse Project; One of 25 Masterpieces that prove 2016 was an incredible year for architecture, WIRED; One of 10 of the most innovative projects of 2016, Redshift; One of the coolest workspaces of 2016, Fast Company
  • Team: Matthias Hollwich, AIA Marc Kushner, AIA Caitlin Swaim, Amanda Azzahra, Jordan Doane, Patrick Herron, Alberto Herzog, Cynthia Hsu, Ignas Kalinauskas, Taesoo Kim, Jessica Kobloch, SJ Kwon, Alda Ly, Robert May, Daniel Selensky, Gagandeep Singh, Fan Zhang
  • Architect of Record: KSS Architects
  • Landscape Architecture: Land Collective
  • Signage and Wayfinding Design: Bruce Mau Design
  • Structural and MEP Engineering: Ballinger
  • Environmental Engineering: Atelier Ten
  • Lighting Design: Focus Lighting
  • General Contractor: Hunter Roberts
  • Photography: Michael Moran and Will Belcher