The Pennovation Center / HWKN

New York-based firm HWKN have revealed the design for what is to become the University of Pennsylvania's latest hub for entrepreneurs, researchers, and innovators. Dubbed "The Pennovation Centre," the project is the first major development within the Pennovation Works, and will occupy a 58,000-square-foot footprint on the campus' south.

A rejuvenation of the former DuPont laboratory, it is hoped that The Pennovation Centre will become an "iconic landmark" for pen, providing a "dynamic environment" for innovation in varied fields.

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The Pennovation Center / HWKN - Image 6 of 6
Courtesy of HWKN Architects

The Pennovation Centre is the result of a period of collaboration between HWKN, Penn, KSS Architects, Land Collective, Bruce Mau Design, Ballinger, Focus, and Atelier Ten. By adopting a multidisciplinary team approach, the project is able to rigorously examine and address factors of site, landscaping, identity, signage, and program.

"To create a dream space for innovators and entrepreneurs," said HWKN principal Matthias Hollwich, "We wanted to celebrate the rawness of the former factory and place emphasis on creating a diverse mix of environments suitable for privacy, collaboration, socialising and the business side of growing a company."

The Pennovation Center / HWKN - Image 3 of 6
Courtesy of HWKN Architects

Early images for The Pennovation Centre reflect this focus, depicting an exuberant northern facade that appears to burst forth from the existing structure. Other elevations are more subdued, employing the conventional masonry and concrete aesthetic of educational facilities. On the eastern facade, a series of garage doors will give way to ground floor studio spaces, in homage to the numerous companies whose humble beginnings took place in a suburban garage.

The Pennovation Center / HWKN - Image 2 of 6
Courtesy of HWKN Architects

This playfulness is evident throughout the design of the interior, where open office areas allow both individual and collaborative activity. Wet and dry labs are nestled alongside spaces dedicated to social activities, and a central bleacher accommodates presentations by "infant startups" for potential investors and supporters. The third floor of the structure is dedicated to robotics and embedded systems, promoting and accelerating the research of lab-to-market technology transfers.

HWKN's Pennovation Centre opens onto a plaza and lawn of wildflowers and native plant species, compatible with both future expansion and use as an outdoor library. 

The project is slated for completion in the summer of 2016, with the Penn Engineering lab to welcome its first occupants in the fall of 2015.

  • Architects

  • Location

    University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
  • Design Architects

    HWKN (Hollwich Kushner)
  • Architect of Record

    KSS Architects
  • Landscape Architect

    Land Collective
  • Design Consultant

    Bruce Mau Design
  • Lighting

    Focus Lighting
  • Sustainability

    Atelier Ten
  • Structural Engineering

  • MEP Engineering

  • Project Year

  • Photographs

    Courtesy of HWKN Architects
  • Area

    58000.0 ft2

Project gallery

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Project location

Address:University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

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Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: Patricia Arcilla. "The Pennovation Center / HWKN" 02 Mar 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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