First Look At Wharton’s New $46.5 Million Building

An artist’s rendering of the $43 million, seven-story 68,000 square foot Tangen Hall to be completed by 2020

It’s been said that business schools often have the newest and most impressive buildings on any university campus and that’s because B-schools have been the beneficiaries of some of the most generous philanthropic support in the academy. All the money poured into new buildings in recent years has caused many to claim that there is an arm’s race among leading schools for building ever larger and more luxurious facilities.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School today (April 18) showed that it isn’t going to be left behind in any arm’s race. The school released its first look at nearly Tangen Hall, the seven-story, 68,000 square foot building that will become Penn’s first dedicated space for cross-campus student entrepreneurship and innovation. Construction of the new building, to be located on the northeast corner of 40th and Sansom streets, is slated to begin this spring and be completed by fall 2020.

The building will house a new Venture Lab, bringing together Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship and other student entrepreneurship programs across the university, along with dozens of co-working, meeting, and collaboration spaces for students. It also will feature street-level storefront “pop-up” retail space for student ventures, a virtual reality lab and several maker spaces with 3D printers and laser cutters.


Wharton’s Karl Ulrich

“The Venture Lab and Tangen Hall will support our students as never before with critical new resources, tools, and space for product development and business incubation,” says Wharton Vice Dean of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Karl Ulrich in a statement. “There is no doubt our students will come to rely on Venture Lab as the starting point in their journey to build innovative concepts into scalable and sustainable businesses.”

The new building was made possible thanks to a $25 million pledge from British hedge fund manager Nicolai Tangen and his wife, Katja. The total cost of the building will be $46.5 million. Tangen was in Wharton’s undergraduate program from 1988 to 1992, and the Tangens made the gift through their AKO Foundation. It was immediately after a review of the proposed building by the Wharton Board of Overseers when Tangen, a board member, pulled aside Dean Geoffrey Garrett indicated his interest in helping to fund the project.

The university says that the new structure will be one of the largest hubs of its kind on any college campus. It will include incubator spaces and maker spaces to pilot student-led ventures, a test kitchen for food-centric startups, and the master’s level Integrated Product Design Program jointly operated by Wharton, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Stuart Weitzman School of Design. Tangen Hall will also be home to the new Venture Lab, where students from across Penn’s 12 schools can turn good ideas into great outcomes.

An artist’s rendering of the front of Tangen Hall at the University of Pennsylvania


“Tangen Hall is a real gamechanger for Penn,” said President Amy Gutmann in a statement. “With it, we are creating a signature space, which manifests the innovation at the heart of a Penn education and the exploration that touches on every aspect of the Penn experience.

“Tangen Hall is one of those dreams come true. The real motivator for this is the amazing entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of our undergraduate and graduate students who are working to do great things in the world. I want to thank Dean Geoff Garrett and Wharton for taking the lead and driving this project forward, bringing the finest of business, engineering, and design together.”


Developed by the Hankin Group, KSS Architects’ design for Tangen Hall sets up each floor with a destination program. A façade of precast concrete and shades of green glass will offer a transparent view into the innovation culture at Penn. The project uses sustainable materials and is designed to meet Penn’s LEED Silver target.

The university said that several longstanding campus entrepreneurship-focused programs such as Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship, the Goergen Entrepreneurial Management Program, Weiss Tech House, and the Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Research Center will also be housed at Tangen Hall. The building will also serve as home to research centers and programs covering a range of fields, including the Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance, the Joshua J. Harris Alternative Investments Program, and the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center.

Tangen is also a founding donor to Wharton People Analytics. The Tangens have also contributed four scholarships for undergraduate students at Penn, with a special focus in international students, and supported the Knowledge@Wharton Business Ethics Series and The Wharton Fund.

An aerial view of Tangen Hall based on an artist’s rendering of the new building


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