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Steinberg-Dietrich Hall, UPenn Wharton School of Business

Renovating and adding to an understated architectural treasure

Steinberg-Dietrich Hall at night

Recent growth in The WhartonSchool of Business programs at the University of Pennsylvania created a strongneed for additional facilities forboth students and faculty. Jacobswas commissioned to provide architectural, interior design and engineering services.

Our design is sensitive to its context with an aesthetic thatprojects an image of a modern, world-class educationcenter. The new addition creates a presence and anenvironment to attract both students and faculty.


square foot renovation of one of the first buildings added to the UPenn campus following World War II


seat lecture hall space, faculty offices, new green roofs and open center zones accommodating faculty lounges and specific departmentalfunctions

Inside the fresh Steinberg Hall - Deitrich Hall

Entryway to Steinberg Hall - Deitrich Hall
Steinberg Hall - Deitrich Hall at night view 2

Originally designed by McKim, Mead &White Architects in 1952, the existing buildinghad become technologically andpedagogically outdated. The newaddition is situated between two existing wings.

This new addition,along with renovation of the existingbuilding, reinforces Wharton’sreputation as the originator andleader of business higher education,as well as helps to create a presenceand an environment that reinforcesWharton’s ability to attract bothstudents and faculty, and to remainat the forefront of higher education.

The client requested that thisintervention be sensitive to itscontext with an aesthetic thatprojects an image of a modern,world-class education center.

Programmatically, the 30,000-square-foot addition / renovation is anchoredby twin 150-seat tiered lecturehalls with three floors of facultyoffices and support spaces above. The project was completed in twophases; ground floor lecture hallsopened in January 2013 and facultyoffices in August 2013.

Many massing and characteroptions were studied during thecourse of the design, ranging frompristine, minimalist glass boxes, tomore contextually referential, albeitmodern, forms and surfaces. Thecomplete building is the synthesis ofthat effort that adds to the historicalstructure without overwhelming it aswell as engaging it with sympathetic proportions and materiality.

The new entry is a highly transparenttwo-story space. Limestone cladding and granite pavers extendfrom the exterior into the interior anda wood portal with slight inflectionsmarks the entry and establishesa design motif carried throughoutthe project. Rhythms within thecurtain wall facades revisit adjacentpatterns, and limestone framesrecall window surrounds. The newentry plaza engages 37th Street,providing not only a newly definedawareness of the building’s renewal,but affording a place of gatheringfor the UPenn community. A facultylounge is perched above the portaland creates a visual connectionbetween students and faculty whileoffering views of the new plaza.The granite-surfaced plaza includessimple areas of grass and a granite-cladstill reflecting pool.

The primary program elements onthe ground floor are the lecture halls.Identical in size and configuration,these tiered spaces accommodatethe largest classes in the school (320-seats) and are designed tofacilitate greater student-professorinteraction. The new lecture hallscapitalize on their perimeter locationand allow natural light to permeatethe rooms. Equipped with advancedcommunications technology,professors are able to teach coursesto offsite locations and interact withstudents via digital content on tabletsand other mobile devices.

Directly adjacent to the new lecturehalls is the renovated inner lobby.Located at the intersection of primary circulation, it serves as acentral social hub. Informal loungesettings dispersed throughout thelobby provide spaces in whichstudents can interact betweenscheduled courses. Terrazzoflooring with a simple patternreinforces the building’s primaryaxis and an elliptical light cove anchors and centers the space. The building’s upper floors containfaculty offices along the perimeterwith views of new green roofs. Theopen center zone accommodatesfaculty lounges and specificdepartmental functions such as teaching assistant stations and opencollaborative settings.At night the primary facade takes ona beacon-like appearance through the use of LED luminaires grazing an automated scrim system.

In 2017, we also provided interior design for the 1,300-square-foot Mack Institute for InnovationManagement, located on the third floor of Steinberg Hall - Dietrich Hall. We definedthe suite with a pair of branded entry doors, converted the open central area toa multi-purpose space, and created a sub-dividable conference room out of twooffices extending the multi-purpose central office space. The renovation was completed successfully while keeping offices operational.