About PennDesign

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

Leslie Hurtig
Associate Dean for Administration

Cathy DiBonaventura
Director of IT Services

Michael Grant
Director of Communications

Andrea Porter
Director of Student Services / Registrar

Karyn Tufarolo
Associate Director for Faculty Affairs

Karl Wellman
Director of Operations & 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.


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

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