The grand opening of the University of Pennsylvania’s Pennovation Center revealed a dynamic innovation center, which include conference rooms, co-working spaces, and social areas.
But to the project’s main architect, Matthias Hollwich, the structure is much more than a co-working space.
“There are many, many innovation centers popping up, but I think they’re glorified office buildings,” he said in a Fast Company article. “They’re well-equipped office spaces with beautiful design and often high-tech design. There might be co-working areas, but without the personality of a place where ideas can be nurtured and ideas can be brought into the market. There’s something about an intention that we believe has to be embedded into an innovation center, like when an entrepreneur defines his product.”
Hollowich, who cofounded the New York-based architecture firm HWKN, designed the building in a way that he believes will spark innovation. The tech-and-business mixed use space is the best way to foster new ideas; research shows that chance encounters are what drive fresh ideas and could spark the next new invention. The architect had this in mind while designing the building.
“From the very beginning of the conversation, we said the Pennovation Center needs to be innovative in its own right, and it can’t follow a formula,” Hollwich said. “That is what the building can teach to the world. I think all of these other places that try to put a label on themselves should take a step back, let architects loose, and undergo a process-oriented design to come up with something that is above and beyond glorified office space.”
Since 2013, over $1.5 billion in venture funding has been invested into over 361 companies in the Greater Philadelphia region; modern co-working spaces and centers such as the Pennovation Center, as well as uCity Square and Schuylkill Yards, will continue to drive both investment and innovation.