Hill College House, designed by Eero Saarinen in 1960, is one of eleven undergraduate residential houses serving the University of Pennsylvania’s undergraduate population. The six-story, 200,000 sf masonry building accommodates nearly 520 students as well as live-in faculty and graduate student staff, and features a full dining hall and kitchen and various other shared amenities. Because Hill College House is considered a significant architectural landmark on the University of Pennsylvania campus, a conservation approach that encompassed both the broad aesthetic principles put forward by Saarinen and the physical materials utilized in the original construction guided the project. Design choices were rooted in considerable study of Saarinen’s work, and supported by a larger understanding of the architectural context at mid-century.
Mills + Schnoering Architects (M+Sa) first conducted a Scope Development Study for the building’s renovation that incorporated existing conditions assessments for all aspects of the building, a code study, and program analysis. M+Sa subsequently designed the comprehensive renovation of the building, which incorporated the building envelope (including masonry, window system, and roof repair); upgrades to residential living units; upgrades to existing common and public spaces (including building entrance lobby, common and dining areas, kitchen, bathrooms, and back-of-house spaces) to improve their quality and amenities; new program spaces in the underutilized basement; and a range of upgrades and/ or replacements to existing mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems.A new passenger elevator serves all main floors and vertical platform lifts connect the atrium and lounge levels to student room levels. A new program of graphic way finding and signage have made the building fully accessible and more easily navigable.
The project has been honored with several preservation and design awards, and the building has achieved LEED Gold certification.