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.

Elevated transportation structures are a common sight throughout Philadelphia.  Cutting through industrial areas, commercial districts, and neighborhoods, they effectively serve the purpose of moving people and goods from one location to another.  This single-minded focus results in an elevated system that largely ignores the surrounding communities.  Whether this neglect helps or hinders the community is less important than the fact that the opportunities presented by these elevated structures is being wasted.  With green stormwater infrastructure, these elevated transp

Slums: How Informal Real Estate Markets Work (University of Pennsylvania, 2016) shows that unauthorized settlements in rapidly growing cities are not divorced from market forces; rather, they must be understood as complex environments where state policies and market actors still do play a role.

Grays Ferry Avenue Study Area

In 2017, PennPraxis worked in conjunction with ULI Philadelphia and local stakeholders to determine opportunities for making Grays Ferry Avenue, which connects South and Southwest Philadelphia, a healthy corridor.  ULI Philadelphia received a national grant to study the Grays Ferry corridor from Washington Avenue to Woodland Avenue.

From the Foreword:

Alexandra San Roman, Claudia Elzey, Eric Vincent Riley, Gabriella Nelson, Michael Schaier, Sean Scott; proposed intervention in Bergen Square

Course/Studio: CPLN-600
Instructors: John D. Landis, City and Regional Planning, PennDesign; Danae Mobley, City of Philadelphia Water Department; Adam Tecza, Group Melvin Design

Cities across the globe have been designed with a primary goal of moving people around quickly—and the costs are becoming ever more apparent. The consequences are measured in smoggy air basins, sprawling suburbs, a failure to stem traffic congestion, and 1.25 million traffic fatalities each year. It is clear that change is needed. Instead of planning primarily for mobility, our cities should recalibrate planning and design to focus on the safety, health, and access of people in them.