When walking on 37th past the Compass towards the Quad, you may have wondered what the tranquil-looking – and kind of eerie – quad is that sits parallel to Locust Walk. Well, if you thought the only building that sucked out your soul was Huntsman, think again. The Lehman Brothers Quadrangle, lovingly called the Wharton Quad, consists of three buildings dedicated to Wharton’s Executive Education program: Vance Hall, Lauder-Fischer Hall and the Steinberg Conference Center. Vance Hall, built in 1972, is home to Wharton graduate programs, replete with offices, meeting rooms and classrooms. The Lauder-Fischer Hall houses the Lauder Institute for Management and International Studies, a joint MBA/MA program for students interested in international business.
And now we come to the most intriguing of the buildings: the Steinberg Conference Center. Ever look at your box of a dorm room with bars on the windows and think, ‘”It could be worse”? Well, it could be a lot better too. if you’re an exec attending Wharton’s graduate programs. With 103 guest rooms outfitted with PCs, amphitheaters, classrooms, conference rooms, an aerobic exercise room, gourmet dining services and lounges with state-of-the-art technology, the center hosts big-wig executives attending Wharton’s Aresty Institute of Executive Education, which provides nondegree programs for business executives. The Balser Art Collection, housed here, boasts more than 300 pieces of late 20th century art, including works of Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali. But don’t get your hopes up too much, as undergrads aren’t so welcome in these parts. If you want to fully benefit from this mysterious oasis, you’ll just have to become a big deal.
- Julie Stein
Looming parallel to the Quad stands the Wistar Institute, an independent complex of medical glory. Wistar, which is not officially affiliated with Penn, focuses on biomedical research. The institute’s namesake is Caspar Wistar, a Philadelphia doctor who wrote the first American anatomy textbook. Since 1892, the nonprofit institute has committed itself to medical research, developing vaccines and conducting research.
With an endowment upwards of $50 million, the institute is dedicated to HIV/AIDS and malaria research. Rumored to have bodies and creepy medical paraphernalia, the Wistar Institute is somewhere between a haunted house and a land of medical magic.
No, this little gem of a building isn’t just a place for confused Comm majors to get lost in on their way to class. The Annenberg Center for Performing Arts is a non-profit performance venue that is home to over 170 performances each year, all made possible by Penn Presents. The building has three theaters, the biggest of which (the Zellerbach Theater) seats up to 970 people. The center is also the site of various dinners, lectures and post-performance discussions. Founded in 1971, the Walnut Street institution has helped to kick-start the careers of composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass. In fact, it boasts quite an impressive list of past performers. The building has seen the likes of New York’s Mabou Mines, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
The lineup for this month alone is enough to keep bored Penn students entertained every night of the week. The Bacon Brothers (yes, one half of which is Kevin) are gracing Penn with their presence on April 4th. Following that is a five-day run of the rock concert/drama/tragedy Love, Janis, following the life and career of legend Janis Joplin. And any eager cheerleaders will be pleased to know that the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleading final auditions are being held on April 23rd. So, whether you’re an aspiring Eagles girl or just looking to narrow down that six degrees of separation, there are many reasons for you to stop in. And not just on your way to Mass Media and Society.
Recreate in your mind the intersection of 40th and Walnut. You’ve got your Fro Gro, your MarBar and your McDonalds. And on the other corner, obscured by the shadow of the sky-hiding enormity that is the Radian, stands a testament to West Philly history. The Walnut Street West Branch has been housed on the corner of 40th and Walnut since the architectural anachronism was constructed in 1906. Though Penn students’ neglect of the building may be due in part to its inconspicuous 40th Street entrance (moved from Walnut Street following a complete renovation and green-approval in 2004), the library caters to a community that extends far beyond Penn.
The Walnut Street West Branch houses an inventory of underused gadgets and services including computers with Access Technology for blind and deaf users, “teen gaming” afternoons featuring DDR, a sunlit reading room, a fresco by Philadelphia mural artist Paul Santoleri, outdoor book sales, a chess club and over 60,000 check-outables. The Walnut Street West Branch was also the first Philadelphia Library to adopt a self-checkout system, making getting books quick and easy while simultaneously eliminating the ritualistic bag-opening that plagues Van Pelt. Next time you want to hit the books away from the campus study scene, head over to the intersection of 40th and Walnut and pay that underappreciated landmark its dues. But not literally – it’s a Free Library, after all.
-Liza St. James