Our Mission

PennPraxis supports design action and thought leadership to advance inclusion, innovation, and impact in communities that design doesn't typically serve. PennPraxis does projects that demonstrate the power of interdisciplinary design, art, planning, and heritage preservation to respond to the major challenges of the built and natural environments, and the communities that inhabit them. Our projects strengthen the University of Pennsylvania's Weitzman School of Design as a school focused on high social impact design. We create opportunities "beyond the market" to help our students develop agency in the world, and we cultivate diversity among the next generation of leaders.


How We Work

As the center for applied research, outreach, and practice at the Weitzman School, PennPraxis provides opportunities for multi-disciplinary student and faculty collaboration through fee-for-service projects and money we raise to support learning through practice. We pursue projects that are in line with mission and practice areas, or brought in through our faculty collaborators, whose expertise and areas of focus are as diverse as they are vast. PennPraxis' work draws on the Weitzman School’s five departments and programs (Architecture, Landscape Architecture, City & Regional Planning, Historic Preservation, and Fine Arts). 

Each and every project we take on includes collaboration with diverse voices and expertise, both within the University and the communities in which we work. We work in Philadelphia, the surrounding region, and in other cities/regions across the globe. Each project includes collaboration with Weitzman School faculty, and partnerships with community organizations/liaisons in the areas in which we are working, to make sure that local expertise is central to project development from beginning to end. We understand that expertise comes as much from lived experience as it does from traditional education and practice.

Practice Centers

Latest News & Events

Group of people in black standing on staircase next to relief wall

Photo: Eric Sucar

When architect and faculty member Scott Erdy needed a centerpiece for the lobby at the new Middletown Free Library, which his firm transformed from an abandoned school building into a multi-generational community center, he turned to Associate Professor of Architecture Andrew Saunders and students in the Master of Science in Design: Robotics and Autonomous Systems (MSD-RAS) program. Designed and fabricated at the Weitzman Robotics Lab, the relief wall celebrates creative exploration and the Library’s new makerspace.

Woman speaks to man at outdoor table

Photo Katie Levesque

This spring, PennPraxis, the center for applied research, outreach, and practice at Weitzman, helped launch a new program for emerging leaders in Kennett Square. Created in partnership with the Square Roots Collective, an organization that supports nonprofit and small-business entrepreneurs in the area, this is just the latest in a series of programs and partnerships PennPraxis has taken on in that area. “The goal of the program was to invite new voices and leadership into the spaces and conversations that affect the public realm, policies, and amenities in the communities in which they live,” says Julie Donofrio, PennPraxis’s managing director.