Introducing the Biotech Commons

Main content

Main content

When brilliant and daring minds look for the next lifesaving breakthrough, they seek unprecedented intersections of research, technology, and clinical care—and at Penn, these intersections are often discovered at the library. To best lead this committed community, we’ve radically reimagined the former Biomedical Library into a dynamic space, one that is alive with discovery and progress.

Biotech Commons exterior (architectural rendering)

About the Space

With vital input from library users, researchers, partners in the Perelman School of Medicine and the School of Nursing, facilities experts, and our own library staff and subject specialists, we have created a new vision for the future of the former Biomedical Library. This paradigm-shifting renovation, with expected completion and reopening in summer 2021, will result in a modern, technologically sophisticated Biotech Commons to advance the University and the world at large toward new frontiers in scholarly achievement.

Upgraded form and function will enable learning, engagement, and programming to be reimagined in this unique space. Among the Biotech Commons’s new features is a multipurpose event space with modular furniture to accommodate active learning, lecture-style events, and open-space gatherings; an expanded Digital Fabrication Lab that will house 3D printing and poster printing services; a Design-Thinking Room furnished with wall-mounted whiteboards, supplies, and movable, writable tables; and a Mixed Reality Lab where faculty and students can experiment with virtual and augmented reality. An Anatomage Table, the first of its kind available for use by all members of the Penn community, will allow for the virtual dissection and review of life-size virtual cadavers outside of clinical lab coursework.

A warm and inviting conference room, showcasing the library’s historic collections, will allow for new ideas to spring forward in an atmosphere that builds upon the past, while the flexibly-furnished Collaboration Classroom can be used for seminars or lecture style presentations.

The renovation also offers enhancements to ensure the Biotech Commons will serve as a key study destination for students: a spacious, natural light-filled reading room will supply a welcoming and attractive location for individual study, various seating options will encourage discussion and collaboration, and twenty Group Study Rooms will accommodate up to eight individuals.

Architectural changes will also serve to strengthen campus connections. Brick bays on the façade have been replaced with windows, offering greater visibility of the interior space, while providing natural light and lively views for patrons inside.

Open to the Penn community as a center of information access and idea generation, the Biotech Commons will function as a hub to enhance the intellectual vitality of the University by providing an extraordinary user experience for all.

Special Thanks

Project Managers

  • Robert Angstadt, AIA, Project Manager, Design & Construction Management, Penn Facilities and Real Estate Services
  • David M. Nerenberg, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Director for Organizational Effectiveness, Penn Libraries

Design Team

  • Architect: Voith & Mactavish Architects
  • Engineers: Burns Engineering
  • Construction Manager: Wolfe Scott Associates

Project Supporters

  • Office of the Provost
  • Penn Nursing
  • Perelman School of Medicine

With deep gratitude for the support of alumni and friends who have made the renovation of the Biotech Commons possible:

  • Ms. Stacey Gershwind Bennett, C’95
  • Mr. Michael Bennett
  • Bennett Family Foundation
  • Ms. Judith L. Bollinger, WG’81, GL’24, PAR’14
  • Mr. William Bollinger, PAR’14
  • Mr. James C. Crowley, W’96
  • Mrs. Kelly L. Crowley, NU’97
  • Mr. Erik D. Gershwind, W’93
  • Mrs. Jackie Gershwind
  • Gershwind Foundation
  • Mrs. Laurie Gelb Gliklich, C’90, PAR’21, PAR’23
  • Dr. Richard Gliklich, PAR’21, PAR’23
  • Christine Hikawa, Esq., CW’73, PAR’21
  • Mrs. Wendy Commins Holman, W’97
  • Mr. Wayne George Holman
  • Mr. Charles K. MacDonald, W’81
  • Mr. Marc Magliacano, W’96
  • Mrs. Maria Magliacano, NU’98
  • Mrs. Cynthia Warshawsky Mark, C’93, W’93
  • Mrs. Marjorie Oxaal C’79
  • Mr. Johusa A. Polan, W’69, WG’70, PAR’97
  • Mrs. Sharon Weiss Polan, PAR’97
  • Mr. Mark D. Rosenbaum, W’95
  • Mr. Alberto Vitale, WG’59
  • Mrs. Gioietta Vitale
  • Mr. David Windreich, PAR’21
  • Windreich Family Foundation
  • Ms. Stacey Gershwind Bennett, C’95
  • Mr. Michael Bennett
  • Bennett Family Foundation
  • Ms. Judith L. Bollinger, WG’81, GL’24, PAR’14
  • Mr. William Bollinger, PAR’14
  • Mr. James C. Crowley, W’96
  • Mrs. Kelly L. Crowley, NU’97
  • Mr. Erik D. Gershwind, W’93
  • Mrs. Jackie Gershwind
  • Gershwind Foundation
  • Mrs. Laurie Gelb Gliklich, C’90, PAR’21, PAR’23
  • Dr. Richard Gliklich, PAR’21, PAR’23
  • Christine Hikawa, Esq., CW’73, PAR’21
  • Mrs. Wendy Commins Holman, W’97
  • Mr. Wayne George Holman
  • Mr. Charles K. MacDonald, W’81
  • Mr. Marc Magliacano, W’96
  • Mrs. Maria Magliacano, NU’98
  • Mrs. Cynthia Warshawsky Mark, C’93, W’93
  • Mrs. Marjorie Oxaal C’79
  • Mr. Johusa A. Polan, W’69, WG’70, PAR’97
  • Mrs. Sharon Weiss Polan, PAR’97
  • Mr. Mark D. Rosenbaum, W’95
  • Mr. Alberto Vitale, WG’59
  • Mrs. Gioietta Vitale
  • Mr. David Windreich, PAR’21
  • Windreich Family Foundation

Follow the Project

isometric floor plan. Key indicates: Concierge, Open seating, Group studies, Collaborative classrooms, Digital fabrication lab, Staff offices, Grab-n-go,  All-gender-bathroom

Follow the Biotech Commons on Twitter for updates, announcements, and behind-the-scenes photos.