UPENN Annenberg Public Policy Center

Higher Education


  • University of Pennsylvania


  • Maki & Associates / Ballinger


  • Philadelphia, PA

Hunter Roberts provided general contracting services to the University of Pennsylvania for the new Annenberg Public Policy Center.  The first phase of the project required Hunter Roberts to excavate and install new chilled water, electric, telecommunications and natural gas infrastructure on 36th Street, Locust Walk, and the adjacent private properties, all while maintaining public access to the university walks and not affecting the existing operations of the surrounding facilities.  To accommodate this work, extensive underground utility rerouting was required including the installation of a new bus duct from the project site to other locations spread throughout the campus.

The second phase of the project involved the demolition of the existing structure and the construction of a new four story, 51,286 SF facility to house the primary research departments of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, featuring administration space and a state of the art public forum, which hosts significant public debates and symposiums.  The Public Policy Center includes a 45-foot atrium decorated with an intricate skylight tube steel structure, broadcast studio, assembly space, administrative offices, and conference space.  The distinctive design features include full curtain wall glazed exterior with an interior system of high-end custom millwork and glazing, creating a functional perimeter cavity system to allow for efficient heating and cooling of the building.  The 3-story, 45-foot high open atrium is surrounded by custom millwork paneling, maple hardwood flooring, open glass railed mezzanines and an undulating plaster ceiling.  The building basement houses a 13,200-volt substation which is used to distribute power to not only the Annenberg Center, but to 13 additional buildings on campus.

Located at the heart of The University of Pennsylvania’s busy and vibrant campus, the Annenberg Center project would be a challenge to any builder.  By closely working with the University’s facilities staff, Hunter Robert’s was able to develop a Site Logistics and Utilization Plan which, first and foremost, provided the campus community access around the construction and into adjacent occupied buildings.  Our project team designed and constructed a series of boardwalks, ramps and cantilevered bridges to allow the campus community to function during the construction. In addition to the challenges of allowing people to move around and literally over the site, proximity to neighboring buildings required extensive underpinning.