PennPraxis

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

A group of women dressed in white uniforms pose for a 1934 photograph.

Courtesy Franklin D. Roosevelt Library & Museum

As Americans navigate the pandemic and economic downturn, elected officials and activists alike have called for ambitious new public initiatives the likes of which we have not seen since the 1930s.

Rendering of a quarry transformed into a park

On Friday, August 28, as part of the Weitzman School’s New Student Orientation, teams of Design Fellows described the work they engaged in over the summer. One team of four Fellows worked under the leadership of Ellen Neises (MLA’02), adjunct associate professor of landscape architecture and executive director at PennPraxis, to re-imagine a former slate quarry as a heritage park linked to a growing trail system in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley.