University of Pennsylvania

Colleges/Universities Pennsylvania



3101 Walnut Street (mailing address)
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: (215) 898-5000

Founded by Benjamin Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania is one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. This institution is historically known for having produced the first medical school in America. Today U Penn is a private Ivy league research institution boasting  the seventh largest endowment of all colleges in the United States, and known for being the home of the famed Wharton School of Business, prestigious  Medical, Nursing, Dental and Veterinary programs, and highly esteemed research studies. The campus includes 218 buildings on 299 acres, not counting the Health System, New Bolton Center and Morris Arboretum. Yearly there are 44,000 applicants with 3,200 accepted.

The University of Pennsylvania has an undergraduate enrollment of 10,033,  graduate enrollment of 11,874 and 1,100 postdoctoral fellows. The gender distribution is almost 50/50.

Houston Hall, built in 1880, was the first student center in the U.S., and still is home to the U Penn Student Center. This building holds an auditorium, café, cafeteria, and student space. Plus, the headquarters of  student government is located here. The historic building has been renovated to offer push button power entrances, and an elevator connecting the floors. Ramps are also available throughout the cafeteria and at area entrances.

The admission building, College Hall,  is another of the original historic buildings updated to include the entrance, connected, via a concrete ramp, in the front of the building.

There are four dining halls, on campus with many options, most offering an all-you-care-to-eat  policy.

Fisher Fine Arts Library, the first library on campus, and also a student area, is another of the oldest building on campus. Unfortunately this  building is not that accessible, having no front accessible ramp.

Roy & Diana Vagelos Laboratories of the institute for Advanced Science and Ttechnology was not available for interior tour. This building and many others on campus, have coded locks for students with key pads.  The Laboratories building has an all power push button entrance and a central elevator and appears very efficient and accessible friendly.

Van Pelt Library, said to hold 2.2 million books is the largest library on campus, is not accessible from the main entrance, though the front side entrance offers  push button power accessibility and an elevator. An undergraduate student center is also located here.

Locust Walk is the Main Commons through the campus, home to academic buildings along the walk way, as well as fraternity houses.  Dietrich Hall and Steinberg Hall, both found along Locust Walk, are a part of the Wharton School, providing a front exterior ramp entrance.

The Upper Quad, freshman dorm area, is a very old building, with unusual slate surfaces. The dorm is made accessible by providing both ramps and front entrance security . Four person suites are offered with free laundry for freshmen.

School of Social Policy & Practice, 3815 Walnut Street, an old edifice, built in 1889, with additions in 1950 and 1959, is accessible on the exterior with an entrance ramp.

The Lerner Center, 201 South 34th Street, designed in 1892 by architects  Cope & Stewardship, fundamental to the original Institute, has been completely renovated to restore the original historic facade, while totally rebuilding, expanding  and modernizing the interior. This building, housing the Music Department, offers a nice accessible front push button power entrance.

Melvin J and Claire Levine Hall was built in 1996 and experienced a 51,000 sq. ft. addition in 2003, making it one of the more modern buildings on campus. The six story building has a push button power entrance, plus walk way, and links with the 43,000 sq. ft. of the former Graduate Research Wing. This complex also adjoins the Towne and Moore Buildings, home of the Department of Computer and Information Science and the Weiss Tech House.

The unusually shaped Fisher Bennett Hall, a major  landmark on the campus, home to English, Music, and Cinema Studies departments, was renovated in 2005, now offering a push button power main entrance, plus ramp.

The gym area at the Tse Ping & Cheng Cheung Ling Sport Center, originally known as the Hutchinson Gymnasium (built in 1928),  was not available to be seen in the tour, but was upgraded and modernized in 2013. The U Penn website describes this facility as quite accessible, listing  an accessible entrance on the west side of the building, an elevator in the atrium that accesses all levels except the third floor, and accessible restrooms on the first floor and in men’s and women’s locker rooms. Plus, they list  accessible showers and water fountains.

The school takes pride in its success by boasting that 90% of students have job offers by their senior year.


The University of Pennsylvania rates 8.5 out of 10 for accessibility. For such ancient buildings seems they've done a good job of renovating.


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