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  #21  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 3:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Parkway View Post
All they need to do is look at what Drexel did with their new dorm Chestnut.
Or even Temple with Morgan Hall.

Chestnut, Walnut, and 40th are major commercial streets that just so happen to run through Penn's campus. Make Locust Walk the quiet Ivy League streetscape.
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  #22  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 3:44 PM
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Who cares? The "But Jenny and Julie Did It" Defense is arguably the worst of all time.
NOT when you're competing with Jenny and Julie for the same select group of top students from around the nation and the world. And that's one of Penn's primary goals in designing new undergraduate residential buildings, as it should be.

You guys are viewing this in the local context--Drexel, Temple, etc. Penn is competing head-on with other urban Ivies and top universities around the country, and the appearance, feel, and ambience of their campuses and core undergraduate buildings is far more relevant to Penn.
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  #23  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 4:10 PM
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NOT when you're competing with Jenny and Julie for the same select group of top students from around the nation and the world. And that's one of Penn's primary goals in designing new undergraduate residential buildings, as it should be.

You guys are viewing this in the local context--Drexel, Temple, etc. Penn is competing head-on with other urban Ivies and top universities around the country, and the appearance, feel, and ambience of their campuses and core undergraduate buildings is far more relevant to Penn.
I guess we disagree on what constitutes an awesome urban campus? Is your broader point that a dorm with ground-floor retail somehow debases the idea of what higher education stands for? Are parents saying to themselves, "Ya know what, Penn had groundfloor retail at their dorms, but Brown did not. Let's definitely send our kid to Brown." "But dad, Wharton is the best business school in the world and I want to go into finance, you know that." "Sorry, son, groundfloor retail."
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  #24  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 4:20 PM
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Originally Posted by hammersklavier View Post
Chestnut, Walnut, and 40th are major commercial streets that just so happen to run through Penn's campus. Make Locust Walk the quiet Ivy League streetscape.
My thoughts exactly. Even with a home, a front yard is mostly for show. Folks live in the back. Locust Walk is the back yard (and is fine as our version of Harvard Yard). If I lived in one of those dorms, I'd appreciate having some student-oriented retail downstairs, even if I had to walk around to get to it. It's an urban campus, so being a citified version of Princeton or Dartmouth isn't going to work.
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  #25  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 4:40 PM
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I guess we disagree on what constitutes an awesome urban campus? Is your broader point that a dorm with ground-floor retail somehow debases the idea of what higher education stands for? Are parents saying to themselves, "Ya know what, Penn had groundfloor retail at their dorms, but Brown did not. Let's definitely send our kid to Brown." "But dad, Wharton is the best business school in the world and I want to go into finance, you know that." "Sorry, son, groundfloor retail."
It's not the parents, it's the kids. The kids are generally the ones who pick the campus vibe they like. Penn's had one of the largest increases in its applicant pool among all the top schools over the past 20 years, and its campus and neighborhood improvements during that time has been a huge factor in that.

Also, Wharton has fewer than 2,000 undergrads, while Penn's College of Arts and Sciences has something like 6,400, so competing against the other top urban schools is EXTREMELY important, Wharton notwithstanding.
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  #26  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 4:47 PM
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My thoughts exactly. Even with a home, a front yard is mostly for show. Folks live in the back. Locust Walk is the back yard (and is fine as our version of Harvard Yard). If I lived in one of those dorms, I'd appreciate having some student-oriented retail downstairs, even if I had to walk around to get to it. It's an urban campus, so being a citified version of Princeton or Dartmouth isn't going to work.
It's not Princeton or Dartmouth we're talking about here, or to which I'm comparing Penn's campus and core undergraduate buildings. It's Columbia, Brown, Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Chicago, Johns Hopkins, etc. It's every other top urban undergraduate school. And I think with record-high applicant numbers, record-low acceptance rates, and one of the highest accepted-applicant yield rates, Penn has a pretty good idea what its undergrad applicants want and appreciate in a university.
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  #27  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 5:03 PM
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I guess we disagree on what constitutes an awesome urban campus? Is your broader point that a dorm with ground-floor retail somehow debases the idea of what higher education stands for? Are parents saying to themselves, "Ya know what, Penn had groundfloor retail at their dorms, but Brown did not. Let's definitely send our kid to Brown." "But dad, Wharton is the best business school in the world and I want to go into finance, you know that." "Sorry, son, groundfloor retail."
The northern side of Walnut between 39th and 40th is almost all retail and much of it controlled by Penn. I certainly don't understand why Penn wouldn't/couldn't/won't accept a design that includes retail on the ground floor, but it can't be because they don't embrace retail. Penn rarely turns down a opportunity to make a buck.
In the main campus area, from Walnut to Spruce, from 32th out to 40th, I can't think of many or any retail stores, other then what's in Houston Hall. Maybe they have a policy against that practice, or some agreement with the City back from the days when the neighborhood was sold out for the super block development. But Penn only holds to agreements as long as the agreement benefits them, as soon as it doesn't, the agreement is toast.
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  #28  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 5:07 PM
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It's not Princeton or Dartmouth we're talking about here, or to which I'm comparing Penn's campus and core undergraduate buildings. It's Columbia, Brown, Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Chicago, Johns Hopkins, etc. It's every other top urban undergraduate school. And I think with record-high applicant numbers, record-low acceptance rates, and one of the highest accepted-applicant yield rates, Penn has a pretty good idea what its undergrad applicants want and appreciate in a university.
The problem with this argument is that the student body is not Penn's only responsibility. The difference between Penn and Drexel comes out as quite egregious at 33rd & Chestnut, where Drexel has heavily invested in commercializing Chestnut and Penn ... not at all.

Someone made the argument that the dorm building at 38th & Spruce is unpopular because it's got ground-floor retail. That's a big fat crock of bull. Look at it! It's unpopular because it's obviously dated and (more importantly) undermaintained -- not because of the ground-floor retail.
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  #29  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 5:12 PM
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The northern side of Walnut between 39th and 40th is almost all retail and much of it controlled by Penn. I certainly don't understand why Penn wouldn't/couldn't/won't accept a design that includes retail on the ground floor, but it can't be because they don't embrace retail. Penn rarely turns down a opportunity to make a buck.
In the main campus area, from Walnut to Spruce, from 32th out to 40th, I can't think of many or any retail stores, other then what's in Houston Hall. Maybe they have a policy against that practice, or some agreement with the City back from the days when the neighborhood was sold out for the super block development. But Penn only holds to agreements as long as the agreement benefits them, as soon as it doesn't, the agreement is toast.
Again, I think it's a question of core undergraduate academic and residential buildings versus other--e.g., business office--uses and "off-campus" private housing, e.g., the Radian. With the exception of Stouffer College House--a creature of the early '70s--Penn has never placed street-level retail in a core undergraduate academic or residential building. It just hasn't up til now, and I suspect it won't in the future. Penn does NOT want it's core undergraduate academic and residential buildings to simply melt into the urban landscape.
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  #30  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 5:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Philly Fan View Post
It's not Princeton or Dartmouth we're talking about here, or to which I'm comparing Penn's campus and core undergraduate buildings. It's Columbia, Brown, Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Chicago, Johns Hopkins, etc. It's every other top urban undergraduate school. And I think with record-high applicant numbers, record-low acceptance rates, and one of the highest accepted-applicant yield rates, Penn has a pretty good idea what its undergrad applicants want and appreciate in a university.
Do you think the record high applicant numbers has more to do with the fact that the Millenial generation is the largest generation in American history and has been flooding colleges for the past 15 years? Or, is it the lack of groundfloor retail at Penn's dorms catapulting it to the next level?

Seriously though, it almost sounds like you're saying, Penn is doing amazing: the data backs that up. So if it ain't broke why fix it.

But hasn't Penn's ascension also coincided with the university's overt rededication to the urbanization of the campus and wider embrace of the city at large? Meaning groundfloor retail and amenities from grocery stores, to pubs, to burger joints, to sushi joints, to movie theaters?
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  #31  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 5:19 PM
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The problem with this argument is that the student body is not Penn's only responsibility. The difference between Penn and Drexel comes out as quite egregious at 33rd & Chestnut, where Drexel has heavily invested in commercializing Chestnut and Penn ... not at all.

Someone made the argument that the dorm building at 38th & Spruce is unpopular because it's got ground-floor retail. That's a big fat crock of bull. Look at it! It's unpopular because it's obviously dated and (more importantly) undermaintained -- not because of the ground-floor retail.
The student body is one of Penn's primary responsibilities, as it should be. And you know what, BY FAR, are the most popular college houses for incoming Penn freshmen--to the point that many are turned away to other college houses that are their 4th and 5th choices? The 3 college houses in the Quad. Again, Penn knows its students and its applicant pool over the decades, and it quite properly builds campus buildings that it believes will best attract and serve THEM.
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  #32  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 5:26 PM
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The so-called "prestigious" education first and making connection to want to do big career things is the attraction for potential students. They don't lack applicants wanting to go there for that reason alone. Everything else should be a bonus.

Does anyone know how Columbia University would compare to UPenn in terms of this ongoing discussion about retail and urbanization of a campus, etc?

Last edited by iheartphilly; Nov 30, 2017 at 5:37 PM.
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  #33  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 5:38 PM
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The student body is one of Penn's primary responsibilities, as it should be. And you know what, BY FAR, are the most popular college houses for incoming Penn freshmen--to the point that many are turned away to other college houses that are their 4th and 5th choices? The 3 college houses in the Quad. Again, Penn knows its students and its applicant pool over the decades, and it quite properly builds campus buildings that it believes will best attract and serve THEM.
Mate, no one is disputing this.

But this logic, if extended to every area of the city, would create self-centered, inward facing enclaves. It's the same reason we don't like gated communities like Naval Square or private garages fronting streets. Surely, it may be in the best interest of developers and homebuyers to have a private garage but it's not in the best interest of the neighborhood and the city at large. Is Penn no longer part of the city?

The 3 college houses in the quad are the most popular because it's an awesome, centuries old, irreplaceable experience. It has literally NOTHING to do with ground floor retail.
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  #34  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 5:40 PM
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Philly Fan perhaps you should change your avatar to Penn Fan - b/c your point of view certainly isn't Philly centered.
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  #35  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 6:01 PM
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Philly Fan perhaps you should change your avatar to Penn Fan - b/c your point of view certainly isn't Philly centered.
I think a lot of Penn alums, students, and faculty who LIVE in the city--including me--would disagree. Not all of them, of course, but quite a few. As I said earlier, a great city doesn't have to have uniform streetscapes and commercial corridors in every neighborhood to be successful. In fact, virtually every great cultural and tourist destination city that I can think of in the world--Paris, London, Barcelona, NYC, New Orleans, San Francisco, even DC--has quite a variety of neighborhoods, many with very little retail on main streets. I just don't understand some of the sentiment on this forum that every main street in every neighborhood in the city should have similar amounts of street-level retail. We're talking about UNIVERSITY CITY here folks, whose identity and success is inextricably intertwined with academic and research institutions, and NOT busy retail corridors.
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  #36  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 6:16 PM
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Do you think the record high applicant numbers has more to do with the fact that the Millenial generation is the largest generation in American history and has been flooding colleges for the past 15 years? Or, is it the lack of groundfloor retail at Penn's dorms catapulting it to the next level?

Seriously though, it almost sounds like you're saying, Penn is doing amazing: the data backs that up. So if it ain't broke why fix it.

But hasn't Penn's ascension also coincided with the university's overt rededication to the urbanization of the campus and wider embrace of the city at large? Meaning groundfloor retail and amenities from grocery stores, to pubs, to burger joints, to sushi joints, to movie theaters?
Yes, the revitalization of the surrounding NEIGHBORHOOD has been essential to Penn's ascension. But so has the creation of a more cohesive campus for Penn's core academic and residential activities within that surrounding neighborhood. And there's been a fairly consistent effort by Penn not to mix the core activities with the commercial.

Remember that this ongoing effort to create a cohesive campus began with the closing of Woodland Avenue and Locust Street through campus in the 1960s, and I'm sure that there were similarly negative reactions from some folks back then: "How can you close off these busy city streets??? You'll NEVER be able to successfully create a Dartmouth or Princeton in the middle of the city! Either remain a 'city' school, or move out to Valley Forge (which was a plan actually under consideration back then)!"
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  #37  
Old Posted Nov 30, 2017, 9:58 PM
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Mate, no one is disputing this.

But this logic, if extended to every area of the city, would create self-centered, inward facing enclaves. It's the same reason we don't like gated communities like Naval Square or private garages fronting streets. Surely, it may be in the best interest of developers and homebuyers to have a private garage but it's not in the best interest of the neighborhood and the city at large. Is Penn no longer part of the city?

The 3 college houses in the quad are the most popular because it's an awesome, centuries old, irreplaceable experience. It has literally NOTHING to do with ground floor retail.
As to your first point, both Penn and I agree with you to a great extent, which is why more recent construction on Penn's campus has NOT turned its back on the through streets, e.g., Singh Center for Nanotechnology, Skirkanich Hall (Bioengineering), Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics, Perry World House, New College House, etc. But that doesn't mean there has to be RETAIL in those buildings. It just means that folks driving through the Penn campus should feel like they're ON the Penn campus, and not in some commercial retail corridor behind or removed from the campus proper.

And as to your second point--do you really believe that the "awesome, centuries old, irreplaceable experience" of living in the Quad would be the same if it had ground floor retail?
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  #38  
Old Posted Dec 1, 2017, 1:00 PM
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I have to agree with the existence of ground floor retail being kind of irrelevant to Philly Fan's argument. Also the Quad isn't perfect -- actually, walking around it is so boring that I actively avoid it. It's a perfect example of an excessively inward-centric building to the detriment of all other uses. It's also telling how non-Penn alums seem agreed that the idea that ground-floor retail shouldn't go in academic buildings is atavistic.
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  #39  
Old Posted Dec 1, 2017, 3:03 PM
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I have to agree with the existence of ground floor retail being kind of irrelevant to Philly Fan's argument. Also the Quad isn't perfect -- actually, walking around it is so boring that I actively avoid it. It's a perfect example of an excessively inward-centric building to the detriment of all other uses. It's also telling how non-Penn alums seem agreed that the idea that ground-floor retail shouldn't go in academic buildings is atavistic.
Perhaps it's because non-Penn alums fail to appreciate the emotional appeal of a campus like Penn's to former, current, and potential students from around the country and the world who chose or will choose it over its peers. Just sayin'.
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  #40  
Old Posted Dec 1, 2017, 3:12 PM
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As to your first point, both Penn and I agree with you to a great extent, which is why more recent construction on Penn's campus has NOT turned its back on the through streets, e.g., Singh Center for Nanotechnology, Skirkanich Hall (Bioengineering), Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics, Perry World House, New College House, etc. But that doesn't mean there has to be RETAIL in those buildings. It just means that folks driving through the Penn campus should feel like they're ON the Penn campus, and not in some commercial retail corridor behind or removed from the campus proper.

And as to your second point--do you really believe that the "awesome, centuries old, irreplaceable experience" of living in the Quad would be the same if it had ground floor retail?
Other then New College House, which of the other new Penn buildings could have readily included retail? The building they put up at 39th & Walnut includes 1st floor retail.
One area where I think Penn has dropped the ball, meaning turned their back on profit, is to not include retail in the hospital area. There's a huge number of workers and guests in that area, with few places to empty their wallets, other then at the 'gift' stores
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