Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

KPMB Architects, Toronto

Photography by Adrien Williams

The University of Pennsylvania’s new Ronald O. Perelman Center brings together UPenn’s political science and economics departments. The project involved the adaptive reuse and expansion of the circa-1925 Art Deco-style West Philadelphia Title and Trust Company building. The 110,000-sq.-ft. project doubles the capacity of the original building. The exterior elevation maintains a clear contrast between the heritage original and new addition. In scale, proportion and detailing, the addition was inspired by the vertical proportions of the bank building, whose façade was restored. The interior spaces, all contemporary, are notable for a monumental three-storey steel and terrazzo stair located in the space between the old and new areas. The Ivy League school’s signature indigo blue is woven throughout the project as an accent colour in a range of intensities, from soft blue-grey in the terrazzo floors, denim in the stained wood walls of the auditorium and vivid indigo along corridors in the upper levels. And, hallelujah! All windows are operable.