The information that follows is, in large part, very similar to a message published For Comment October 21, 1997, concerning the Club's projected move to the Inn at Penn. Notable changes have been made in the Club floor plans, which include a new private dining area, reconfigured art gallery space, and updated renderings that show the general types of interior finishes. --E.S.R.

Faculty Club Update: On the New Home in the Inn at Penn

Over the summer of 1997, an ad hoc committee of the Board met with Steven Murray and Marie Witt of the Office of Business Services regarding plans for the future relocation of the Faculty Club to facilities within the Inn at Penn, now under construction in the 3600 block of Walnut Street. The outcome of this consultative process was a set of plans which were reviewed and accepted by that committee and brought to the Board at a special meeting in mid August. The Board voted to accept the recommendation to move forward with the plan as presented. The Board members discussed the architectural plans with the membership at an October 6, 1997, meeting. Since that meeting, an ad hoc design committee of the Board has been meeting regularly with the designers on a series of revisions that have substantively improved the original plans for the Faculty Club. John Keene (City and Regional Planning, Chair-elect Faculty Senate) and Richard Wesley (Interim Chair, Architecture) have worked closely with this committee. A separate ad hoc committee of the Board continues to work on issues related to governance, finances, and terms of agreement.

Current Facilities

The Faculty Club currently provides a variety of functions for the University, its departments, faculty and staff. These include:

  • The Hourglass, a moderately priced, 73-seat restaurant with table service open daily for lunch and Wednesdays for dinner during the year.
  • The Cafeteria, a luncheon buffet open Monday through Friday to all members at the fixed price of $6.25 per meal ($6.75 effective July 1), it accommodates up to 200 users per day. Evening food services are provided for Hillel.
  • A conference center with a Club Room in the basement, Alumni Hall on the second floor, and seven private dining rooms on the third floor. (Some 1,500 square feet on the third floor are rented by the Dynamics of Organization program)
  • An informal meeting place for faculty and staff, including a bar/grill area seating 38 and a lounge space, both on the first floor of Skinner Hall. This space has a small art gallery where several exhibitions are held during the year.

Club Membership is currently about 18% of eligible faculty and 4% of eligible staff.

The University has been providing the Faculty Club with space on a rent-free basis under the terms of a 1959 agreement. In addition, the University has been covering the costs of operating the building (about $300,000 per year) and Faculty Club operating deficits averaging $350,000 per year.

Feedback from long-range planning discussions and recent surveys indicated that members were most concerned with retaining an environment that fosters collegial conversation, an informal lunchtime buffet to enable interaction between colleagues, an upscale dining room suitable for hosting guests, and a distinct identity.

In the Inn at Penn: Interior Design

The space planned for the Club at the Inn has been designed with direct input and collaboration from an ad hoc committee of the Board of Governors. Interior design features and other operational issues will continue to be discussed over the coming months. Preliminary renderings show the general atmosphere envisioned for the Club space.

The entry to the Club will be via the Walnut Street entrance. Members will enter the Inn lower lobby and go directly to an elevator to the second floor or ascend the main stair case. Signage marking the entry to the Club will be prominent upon arrival.

Entry to the Club space will be immediately off the second floor lobby area and adjacent to the Inn's living room. A reception area with a desk for the Club coordinator will be located at the entrance to the Club.

Just past the desk, an art gallery area leads to the buffet dining room, which in turn leads to the main dining room.

The buffet dining room (right) will have approximately 120 seats in its main area with an additional 30 seats arranged at three long tables designed to promote collegial and social gatherings. A separate, private dining room off of the gallery will seat up to an additional 14 guests. The buffet will feature salads, soups, sandwiches, a selection of entrees, beverage station, and dessert bar each day.

The main dining room will be at the western end of the Club. It features a lovely bow window overlooking Walnut Street and the Annenberg Center. This room will seat 80, with wait service and an à la carte menu.

The Inn will also operate a restaurant/bar on the first floor of the Walnut Street side of the complex. It will seat approximately 170. Bar service to the Faculty Club buffet and dining room will be provided by the Inn via the living room and the first floor restaurant/bar.

Food Service Management: The company hired to operate the Inn at Penn will provide food and beverage service, and maintenance and upkeep functions for the space designated for the Club. The Inn operator will be hired by Penn on a management contract. The operator will be paid a fee for services and be paid based on key performance milestones to include both financial and customer service requirements. Therefore, all revenues (other than membership dues) and expenses related to provision of meals and beverages associated with the Club will be borne by the Inn.

Meeting and Conference Rooms: The Inn at Penn will provide a large ballroom that may be subdivided into four smaller rooms as well as three smaller meeting rooms and a board room. Club members wishing to reserve meeting rooms may do so either through the Club Coordinator or directly through the Inn. Special rates will be established for the University, and extended to Club members for room rentals. Additionally, there are ten conference suites located throughout the building. The Inn will provide flexible scheduling options and preference for University faculty and staff.

Hours of Operation: While still under discussion, the Club would generally be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the Dining Room area available with coffee set-up each weekday morning. Lunch would be provided Monday through Friday, and the traditional Wednesday night dinners would continue.

Special functions and events such as pre-game brunches will continue to be hosted by the Club. Breakfast will be served daily by the Inn (for patrons of the Inn as well as any interested Club members) only in the space designated for the buffet. Club members will have access to the main dining room and Inn living room for morning coffee and conversation.

Club space may be scheduled for use for functions by the Inn during non-standard Club hours and by advance scheduling with the Club Coordinator.

Next Steps: Since the basic plans have been approved by the Faculty Club Board of Governors and shared with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, the ad hoc committee of the Board is working with Business Services to finalize details such as operational, legal and related issues. (SEC discussed but took no position on the plans presented to it by Steve Murray and John Fry at its meeting October 8, 1997.) Please forward your comments and suggestions via e-mail to Dr. Elsa Ramsden ( or Marie Witt (witt@pobox).

-- Elsa Ramsden, President, Faculty Club Board of Governors

Almanac, Vol. 44, No. 34, May 19/26, 1998