About PennDesign

PennDesign Dean Frederick Steiner, recorded at the Fisher Fine Arts Library

Mission and Vision

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.



Frederick Steiner is Dean and Paley Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. Dean Steiner has a long and distinguished track record as a scholar, teacher and administrator. Most recently, he served for 15 years as dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. He holds two master’s degrees and a doctoral degree, in city and regional planning, from PennDesign, and he has also been a research scholar at the Penn Institute for Urban Research since 2013. Penn President Amy Gutmann announced his appointment on February 25, 2016.

Board of Overseers

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

Mr. Kevin S. Penn, Chair 
Jay Brian AbramsonW'83L'86
Dean Stewart Adler, W'79L'83
Nisa Amoils, L'95
Ms. Robin M. Beckett, 
Mr. John Carrafiell
Mrs. Roberta Fine DranoffMCP'75
Mr. Jeffrey Fine, C'76, M.Arch'78
Mr. Mark Gardner, M.Arch'00
Mr. Laurence A. Goldberg, 
Mr. Jay Goldman, W'79
Dr. Susan S. HakkarainenCGS'04
Mr. Mason D. HauptW'77
Mr. Ara K. HovnanianW'79
Mr. Alexander B. Hurst, C'01
Mr. Jeffrey Kaplan, W'87
Ms. Lori Kanter-Tritsch, M.Arch'85
Mr. Scott M. KleinmanC'94W'94
Mr. A. Eugene Kohn, B.Arch'53, M.Arch'57
Mr. Lawrence M. Korman
Mr. Charles B. Leitner III, C'81
Mr. Matthew H. NordW'01
Mrs. Mary Pavia RollaW'79
Mr. Richard M. Rosan, M.Arch'67
Mr. Timothy F. Rub, ex officio
Mr. Keith L. Sachs, W'67
Ms. Lisa M. SardegnaMSHP'05
Ms. Robin (Bonnie) Stone Sellers, CW'73
Mr. Gary N. SieglerW'83
Mr. Howard A. Silverstein, W'69
Ms. Barbara van Beuren, M.Arch'88
Mrs. Michelle Kroiz Winn, C'95
Mr. William A. WitteC'73MCP'75

Senior Staff

Chris Cataldo, Director of Finance and Administration

Leslie Hurtig, Associate Dean for Administration

Cathy DiBonaventura, Director of IT Services

Michael Grant, Director of Communications

Andrea Porter, Director of Student Services and Registrar

Jeff Snyder, Assistant Dean of Development and Alumni Relations

Karyn Tufarolo, Associate Director for Faculty Affairs

Karl Wellman, Director of Operations and Planning

Joan Weston, Director of Admissions

Penn Compact 2020

Penn Compact 2020 is President Gutmann's far-reaching vision that outlines next steps to increase access to Penn's exceptional intellectual resources; integrate knowledge across academic disciplines with emphasis on innovative understanding and discovery; and engage locally, nationally, and globally to bring the benefits of Penn's research, teaching, and service to individuals and communities at home and around the world. PennDesign is committed to building on this vision in the following ways:


  • Working to Increase Access 
  • Financial Aid
  • Faculty Diversity and Excellence
  • Open Learning 


  • 3D Printing, Digital Imaging and Simulation, and Robotics
  • South Bank: Fabrication and Material Exploration
  • Kleinman Center for Energy Policy


  • PennPraxis: Outreach and Professional Arm of PennDesign
  • Student-Driven Social Impact Projects
  • International Travel Studios and Research

Affirmative Action

PennDesign is committed to increasing the diversity of our faculty and student body and to promoting an inclusive culture that welcomes and celebrates difference. Ensuring that our faculty, students and staff are representative of the communities that we serve strengthens our ability to prepare the next generation of designers, planners, preservationists and artists, who will go on to demonstrate how design can improve the quality of everyday life in communities around the globe.


Office of the Dean

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

Office of Admissions

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