About PennDesign

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PennDesign is an inventive place of learning where the many fields of architecture, planning, preservation, landscape and the fine arts come together on shared ground. At PennDesign, we are dedicated to design that is creative in nature and transformative in impact. In a collaborative environment that fosters inquiry and experimentation, faculty and students seek to recast the distinction between theory and practice, expand knowledge and invention through research, and contribute works of value and beauty.

Formerly the Graduate School of Fine Arts, in fall 2003, the School officially became the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. Our new name—familiarly PennDesign—describes what we are now, a single school, within a great university, dedicated to promoting excellence in design across a rich diversity of programs—Architecture, City Planning, Landscape Architecture, Fine Arts, Historic Preservation, Digital Media Design and Visual Studies.

The change in our name underscores our belief in the centrality of design to all aspects of creativity. A dual challenge is offered to our students: explore a broad range of possibilities through both practice and theory. Students at PennDesign seek the critical balance between art and practicality, the why and the how, the left brain and the right.

As our students and their work impact our global environment through the making of thoughtful places and objects, our new name celebrates the future of PennDesign as a leading center for design education and practice in the 21st century and beyond.


PennDesign’s Dean

“PennDesign's focus for the next two years‎ will be on creating inspiring visions, innovative strategies and implementation partnerships to advance cities of opportunity, landscapes of beauty and resilience and communities of culture and vitality."

Marilyn Jordan Taylor is dean and Paley Professor of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design. She is recognized worldwide as a thought leader in urban design, as well as a woman pioneer in the fields of architecture, planning, and construction. A distinguished and much admired practitioner, her global stature is complemented by her down-to-earth demeanor and proven ability to interact easily with constituencies across communities, government, industry, and academia, both locally and internationally. Originally appointed in 2008, she has agreed to an extension of her appointment as dean until June 30, 2016 - Read more.

Board of Overseers

Members of our Board of Overseers provide leadership, direction, and support for the future of PennDesign.

Senior Staff

Chris Cataldo
Director of Finance and Administration

Rick Fitzgerald
Associate Dean for Development & Alumni Relations

Leslie Hurtig
Associate Dean for Administration

Cathy DiBonaventura
Director of IT Services

Andrea Porter
Director of Student Services / Registrar

Megan Schmidgal
Director of Communications

Karl Wellman
Director of Operations & Planning

Joan Weston
Director of Admissions

Strategic Priorities

As a school, our primary objective is to give our students--of all ages and across all the design disciplines--the perspectives, skills, and experiences that will help them meet the opportunities and demands of a changing and challenged, urbanizing world. As an academic community, it must also be our responsibility to offer leadership to our fields of inquiry and application, through ideas, experimentation and innovation, critical discourse, research, and value creation. We must take the responsibility to be among the thought leaders who will shape the communities of our time and the years to come.

Goal 1: Increase the visibility and reputation of the School of Design

Goal 2: Enhance the strength and breadth of the Faculty

Goal 3: Strengthen and advance the student community

Goal 4: Integrate knowledge to increase social impact

Goal 5: Expand the research presence of the School and University

Goal 6: Shape local, national, and global policy agendas

Goal 7: Enhance resources




102 Meyerson Hall
210 South 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Admissions: (215) 898-6520
Dean's Office: (215) 898-3425