About PennDesign

Graduating students talk about the PennDesign experience.

Mission

PennDesign prepares students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, we are committed to advancing the public good–both locally and globally–through art, design, planning, and preservation. 

Leadership

Dean

Frederick “Fritz” 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.

Kevin S. Penn, W83, Chair 

Jay Brian Abramson, W’83, L’86
John Carrafiell
Roberta Fine Dranoff, MCP’75
Jeffrey Fine, C’76, MArch’78
Mark Gardner, MArch’00
Laurence A. Goldberg, W’89
Jay Goldman, W’79
Alexander B. Hurst, C’01
Jeffrey Kaplan, W’87
Albert Kalimian W’79
Lori Kanter Tritsch, MArch’85
Scott M. Kleinman, C’94, W’94
A. Eugene Kohn, B.Arch’53, M.Arch’57
Lawrence M. Korman
Steve Lefkowitz
Nathan Leight 
Richard Linhart W’83
Matthew H. Nord, W’01
Timothy F. Rub, ex officio
Bonnie Stone Sellers CW’73
Amrita Sen, W’92
Gary Siegler, W’83
Patricia Pickman Udell, BFA’78
Michelle Kroiz Winn, C’95
William A. Witte, C’73, MCP’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
Kali Meeks, Associate Director for Professional Development and Leadership 
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 Penn President Amy 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:

Inclusion

  • Working to Increase Access 
  • Financial Aid
  • PennDesign Diversity Committee (Faculty, Staff, and Students)
  • Student Affinity Groups: Queer Design, Women in Architecture, Urban China Collective

Innovation

  • In-Studio 3D Printing, Digital Imaging and Simulation, and Robotics
  • Advanced Research and Innovation Lab (ARI)
  • Center for Architectural Conservation
  • Center for Environmental Building and Design
  • The Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology
  • Kleinman Center for Energy Policy
  • Materials Lab
  • Silverstein Photography Lab
  • Pennovation Works: Fabrication and Materials Exploration

Impact

  • PennPraxis: Community Engagement and Consulting Arm of PennDesign
  • Monument Lab: Public Art and History Initiative (Ken Lum, professor and chair of fine arts, chief curatorial advisor; Paul Farber, lecturer in fine arts, artistic director)
  • Student-Led Community Engagement Projects
  • International Travel Studios
  • International Conferences and Published Research

Diversity at PennDesign

PennDesign is committed to creating an educational setting in which all students, faculty members, and staff members are valued. We strive to create an inclusive culture that celebrates difference and is strengthened by contributions from people of all races, religions, countries of origin, genders, ages, sexual orientations, physical abilities, learning differences, and socioeconomic backgrounds. We aspire to support and retain a student body, faculty and staff who are representative of the multiple communities and publics with which we collaborate and work. A diverse community at PennDesign enhances our ability to prepare the next generation of artists, architects, landscape architects, planners, and preservationists to become leaders and innovators in a multicultural society.

Shortly after his appointment, Dean Steiner formed a Faculty Diversity Work Group to advise him on strategies to (1) increase the diversity of the School’s faculty, staff, and student body; (2) promote a more inclusive community; (3) and foster a learning environment that encourages and celebrates difference. This group evolved into the current Diversity Committee, chaired by Sharon Hayes, Associate Professor of Fine Arts. This committee includes faculty members from across the School as well as student and staff representatives.  Learn more about the ongoing efforts of this committee on the Diversity at PennDesign page.

Rankings

PennDesign programs have consistently been ranked among the best in the nation. The graduate program in the Department of Architecture ranked 11th in DesignIntelligence’s report America's Best Architecture & Design Schools 2018-2019 and the Department of Landscape Architecture ranked 2nd. The survey asked 6,119 hiring professionals about about the schools they most admire, the ones they hire from the most, and how recent graduates are performing in 12 key focus areas such as design theory and practice, design technology, and communication skill.

Why PennDesign

Generations of designers, planners, preservationists, and artists have chosen to pursue their passion at PennDesign. Here are some of the factors in their decision:

Influence

Generations of PennDesign graduates have shaped their profession through their practice and scholarship, and the School continues to train the future leaders of design’s many fields.

Philadelphia

One of the most affordable cities of its size in the Northeast, Philadelphia is replete with history, architectural and landscape landmarks, and diverse neighborhoods. Its arts and music scene rivals that of Austin, Montreal, and Seattle. 

Interdisciplinary Study

PennDesign is unique among U.S. graduate institutions in bringing together architecture, landscape architecture, city and regional planning, historic preservation, and the fine arts; students are encouraged to take classes across disciplines.

Making a Difference

PennDesign’s architecture department was originally established in 1890 with the express purpose of improving the built environment for Philadelphians. Still at the heart of the School’s curriculum are community-based, site-specific studios, and students can receive funding and guidance for social impact projects through PennPraxis. 

A School within a University

PennDesign students enjoy access to all 12 Schools at the University, including Wharton, Engineering, and Social Policy. Dual degree offerings and certificates add further breadth to study at PennDesign.

Meaningful Research

PennDesign faculty and students work on socially relevant initiatives led by PennPraxis, the Center for Environmental Building Design, the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, and the Penn Institute for Urban Research (IUR).

Pragmatism

PennDesign retains the commitment of inventor Benjamin Franklin, Penn’s first president and longtime trustee, to applied research. Art and design are understood as acting in dialogue with society for the betterment of humanity.

Community

Relationships are at the heart of the PennDesign experience, and they’re built outside the studio as well as in. Along with Happy Hour and the annual Beaux Arts Ball, programs initiated by Student Affairs, Student Council and student groups like DiverseDesign help form bonds for a lifetime.

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