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The Quad

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1895–1896 and later, Cope and Stewardson. Spruce Street between S. 36th and S. 38th sts.
  • The Quad (© George E. Thomas)

The rebranding of the university from Victorian utility was accomplished by Provost Harrison's commissioning of this late English Gothic-style dormitory group. Designed by the architects of most of Penn's late-nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century buildings, it set the color palette, scale, and historical character until World War II introduced modern architectural forms. Like so many of Provost Harrison's projects, it began with a vast scheme that intended to entirely infill from S. 38th Street and Woodland Avenue to the hospital edge at S. 36th Street. Construction began at the west in 1895 and the following year had reached S. 37th Street with its great cluster of towers. The project continued east with Provost's Tower at S. 36th Street (1912), which commemorates Harrison's retirement. Other wings continued to be built into the 1950s. The quadrangle's immense scale is skillfully obscured by the myriad bays, dormers, and chimneys that enliven its walls. The carved bosses that ornament the cornices are a compendium of college cartoons of the late nineteenth century with owlish professors and donkeys as students interspersed with references to the architectural profession—the architects as fools with a basket of apples are on the north facade west of the Memorial Tower and the building itself is presented by chubby putti in the large bay farther to the west. The exterior was restored by John Milner Associates and the landscape by Andropogon Associates in 2000.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "The Quad", [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 133-134.

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