PennDesign Open House

Monday October 27, the School of Design hosted an open house for prospective graduate students.  Known as PennDesign, the school offers degrees and programs in Architecture, City & Regional Planning, Fine Arts, Historic Preservation, Landscape Architecture, Real Estate, and Urban Design.


The day began with a continental breakfast in Meyerson Hall’s basement during registration followed by a school wide introduction from the department chairs before prospective students and their guests went to their respective departments.  The majority of the audience was there for architecture. About 20 of us were interested in historic preservation. 


Once in the preservation department, Professors Frank Matero and Randy Mason discussed the historic preservation program and the areas of emphasis. Second year students presented their theses topics and answered any question about their research.  Following those sessions, we all had lunch together with students and professors, which provided a casual setting to ask questions.  After lunch, prospective students could do a variety of things. I opted for a tour of the architectural conservation labs, which also gave me an opportunity to learn about the various projects on which PennDesign has worked. We also had a chance to peek into the Fisher Fine Arts Hall and gaze at its beauty.  It’s a magnificent building.


Another part of the day that I enjoyed and found useful was the student life panel.  About six graduate students answered any questions about city life and Penn life, in school and out of school.  They provided advice on where to live, what to do, how to approach grad school, among other topics. 


The preservation professors were kind enough to extend their office hours to the prospective students, which offered a chance to say hello and ask any questions we might have had.  The long day of information concluded with a happy hour on the Meyerson Porch, which is a PennDesign weekly tradition. 


While I had probably read everything about the Penn preservation program, visiting the school was definitely worth the trip. It’s a good experience to actually see the school and meet the professors and potential classmates. I am very impressed by the Penn program and thoroughly enjoyed my time in Philadelphia.  To any prospective grad student, I would suggest visiting the schools that interest you.  A lot of people there were making the grad school rounds: on their way to UVA or Columbia and other schools.  If you are interested in Penn or might be in the future, I would recommend the open house. Has anyone visited other open house programs? I have not had the opportunity, but did visit UVM in August and loved the school and Burlington.