For as long as we can remember, the corner of 36th & Sansom has been vacant. This parcel, on Penn's campus and across the street from the bookstore, hasn't been some unkempt lot like so many we've seen around town, but it's still been a curious vacancy at a high-traffic corner.
Recently, a student reached out, notifying us that a fence had appeared around the property. Naturally, we set out to learn what's going on.
A story from last month's Philadelphia Business Journal provided the answer. According to the PBJ, this is part of a $77.6M project that will eventually result in the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics. Not only is Penn building a new structure on the corner, but they're also totally renovating the West Philadelphia Title and Trust Co. building, which will be connected to the new building. The design work on the project was done by KPMB Architects.
It's awesome to see that this underused parcel is finally getting redeveloped and it's similarly exciting to learn that the handsome building next door is getting a new lease on life. We're also pleased to see that Penn is going putting up something architecturally unique alongside the existing building and not trying to imitate the old architecture, a move that almost always backfires. On a campus with so many older buildings, this new Political Science and Economics Center will strike a decidedly different note. Compared to the bookstore and hotel across the street, built about fifteen years back with a more traditional look, this is a more interesting approach, in our estimation.