The Graduate Program in Historic Preservation launched a website,, that presents five years of research conducted for the National Park Service (NPS), in partnership with the Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Studies Unit, under the leadership of Associate Professor Randall Mason. The research spans Washington’s geography from Fort Foote at the southernmost tip of the capital to Rock Creek Golf Course near the city’s northern boundary, and represents the social, cultural, architectural, and recreational development of the federal city over the past three centuries.

Contemporary urban design and planning discourse have a conspicuous dearth of work oriented towards otherwise healthy urban conditions characterized by population contraction. What scholarship does exist on “shrinkage” is primarily oriented towards those landscapes that result from population losses tied to failing economic conditions. But what happens when an economy is (relatively) healthy, not to mention technologically advanced, yet its population is beginning a process of radical contraction?

Hunts Point LIfelines, Bronx, New York

PennDesign/PennPraxis, in partnership with OLIN, led one of the 6 winning entries in the Rebuild by Design competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2013-2014).

The chance for PennDesign students to engage with local community groups and projects for an extended amount of time in a meaningful capacity is often limited to design studios and a few special occasions throughout their time in the School of Design. Additionally, at a time when a design-thinking approach and interdisciplinary collaboration are becoming essential to the successful development of projects at community, national, and global scales, PennDesign graduate students have a growing duty to prioritize genuine engagement with the communities for which they are designing.

The shortage of affordable rental units is a national reality, but is particularly profound in the city of Philadelphia. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a household is rent-burdened if the occupants spend over 30 percent of income on rent, and severely rent-burdened when they spend over 50 percent. In Philadelphia, 87 percent of extremely low-income households are rent-burdened, and 74 percent are severely rent-burdened.

The University of Pennsylvania’s large urban campus produces environmental impacts in many different ways.

This dissertation suggests a new framework and indices of building performance evaluation based on an eco-systemic approach.

The correlation between work and water exemplifies the classic parable of technological innovation, in which human labor is replaced by mechanical (or hydraulic) ingenuity and the amounts of work (or water) that can be delivered are dramatically increased.

This paper presents the results of a simplified method for reconfiguring a small city and rural county to support its current population on the environmental energies available within the boundaries of the county.

Energy systems diagram of Delaware Valley Region.


Energy is the ultimate driver for urban growth, providing the engine for its physical and economic activities, however it is the concentration of energy into more valuable forms—such as fuels, buildings, institutions, and knowledge—that underlies the capacity for development. The goal of the project was to evaluate the interactions between resources flows (renewable and non-renewable) and the spatial distribution of assets, using household consumption as the primary lens through which to construct a regional e[m]ergy model.

Credit: Gilad Meron

Social Impact Projects are intended to foster more cross-disciplinary collaboration at PennDesign, encourage students to work within the community, and leverage their design ability to benefit communities in need. The projects kicked off in the Spring of 2015, supported by PennDesign Dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor together with PennPraxis. Two years have been awarded: 2015 and 2016, with the hopes that the program will continue into the future. 

Map of Market Value of Owner-Occupied Homes, 2016

Managing Equitable Development in West Philadelphia was a project organized by representatives of three schools of the University of Pennsylvania.