University of Pennsylvania receives new Biotech Commons space

The University of Pennsylvania’s Biotech Commons has transformed a biomedical library into an open center for cross-disciplinary learning, prototyping, and collaboration. Photo courtesy VMA

The University of Pennsylvania’s Biotech Commons has transformed a biomedical library into an open center for cross-disciplinary learning, prototyping, and collaboration.

Completed by Voith and Mactavish Architects LLP (VMA), Biotech Commons offers a range of spaces and services to better support how people learn and work. Every facility—from conference centers and study rooms to fabrication shops—is free to be scheduled by any student. Biotech Commons does not require a Penn ID for access on weekdays before 6 p.m., making it a barrier-free place that drives innovation by inviting professionals, students, and community members to collaborate.

The renovated facility includes the Wendy and Wayne Holman Reading Room, which doubles as a multi-purpose event space with movable furniture. The room accommodates a range of activities, including lecture-style events and open-space gatherings; a design thinking studio with wall-mounted whiteboards, supplies, and moveable, writable tables; and a mixed reality lab, where faculty and students can experiment with virtual and augmented reality.

A conference room will showcase the libraries’ historic collections, while the furnished Gershwind and Bennett Family Collaboration Classroom will host seminars, lecture-style presentations, and active, flipped-classroom style instruction.

The Judith and William Bollinger Digital Fabrication Lab provides 3D printing and poster printing services, equipped with nine high-end 3D printers and two 3D scanners, a laser cutter, and plotters for scientific poster printing. The Anatomage Table, the first of its kind, is available for use by all members of the Pennsylvania community, allowing for the virtual dissection and review of life-size virtual cadavers outside of clinical lab coursework.

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