Building A Landmark of Twenty-First-Century Learning

Penn GSE is preparing educators and leaders for a future we can only begin to imagine.

Passionate students are drawn to Penn GSE as they seek to become change agents who can navigate new learning approaches and technologies as well as a range of social, economic, and policy environments. Now, as the School embraces a bold vision for its next era and the field of education, facilities that match the excellence of this vision are necessary to ensure a cohesive and inspiring future. Penn GSE is embarking upon a building expansion that will keep the School at the forefront of the field, consolidate its degree programs in one location, and create a multifaceted home for education on campus.

  • New Student Pavilion

    A glass pavilion will be added to the east side of the 3700 Walnut Street building, providing a new lobby on Walnut Street and four floors of student lounges and group study rooms.

  • New Building and Innovation Lab

    Rendering of the courtyard behind the 3700 Walnut building with a new two-story building attached to Stiteler Hall

    The project will merge the 3700 Walnut Street building with the nearby Stiteler Hall (pictured left) and add a new two-story building with an innovation laboratory (pictured center) in the Social Science Quadrangle.

  • 3700 Walnut Lobby

    The new entrance to 3700 Walnut Street will include a new lobby leading to a four-story glass pavilion for students, offering areas for individual and group work.

  • Classroom

    Rendering of students learning inside a flexible, well-lit new classroom

    Movable walls and seating, multimedia capabilities, touch-screen technology, and optimized sound and lighting will accommodate a range of forward-thinking teaching and learning approaches.

A model of twenty-first-century learning spaces and technologies

Built more than half a century ago, the building at 3700 Walnut Street does not reflect the twenty-first-century spaces in which Penn GSE graduates will educate. Penn GSE must develop spaces that allow the School to fully realize its potential to create, model, and teach new approaches to education.

In recent years, the concept of a traditional classroom with rows of desks has given way to the broader notion of learning spaces that can be configured in multiple ways, allowing teachers to customize the educational setting to a range of activities from collaborative to individual work. Neuroscience has revealed how environmental factors such as lighting, sound, and organization can facilitate or hinder learning. Multimedia and touch-screen technology have expanded the tools upon which educators can draw, while also posing new challenges. And an overarching shift away from lecture-format instruction to project-based learning has made students more active participants in their learning during class, an approach in which flexible spaces and technological access are essential.  

Beyond the field of education alone, spaces that fuel innovation are burgeoning, as makerspaces and innovation laboratories foster communities of creators and entrepreneurs who solve societal problems through new products and ventures.  

As educators and leaders, Penn GSE graduates will be responsible for using, advocating for, and designing learning spaces to best meet the needs of students. To do so, they must have a firsthand experience of state-of-the-art learning environments themselves. In addition, as a leader in innovation, Penn GSE is dedicated to bridging the fields of education, business, and entrepreneurship to improve learning. The enhanced building will reflect the quality and nature of the School’s work and aspirations.  

An interdisciplinary home for education

By strategically expanding the 3700 Walnut building, merging it with the nearby Stiteler Hall, and adding a new two-story building with an innovation laboratory, the project will allow Penn GSE to consolidate the majority of its programs, students, faculty, and staff on campus in one location. This multifaceted hub will create cutting edge teaching and learning spaces and technologies while giving our students a dramatically enhanced experience of academic and professional community. 

By consolidating all of our degree programs in the Social Science Quadrangle, Penn GSE will take full advantage of the scope that its programs today collectively represent. Encompassing teaching, counseling, leadership, policy, language diversity, learning technology, entrepreneurship, and more, the work of Penn GSE touches every aspect of education. The enhanced facility will reveal a microcosm of the field—one in which otherwise disparate areas will function side by side. Future early childhood and K–12 educators, higher education leaders, researchers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, chief learning officers, and others will learn from each other, strengthening their knowledge of the broad scope of education; its social, economic, and political context; and the impact they can have on the field individually and collectively. 

Building upon this foundation, Penn GSE will shape a new era in teaching and learning, modeling an integrated approach and best practices both on campus and through the careers of Penn GSE graduates.