Joe’s Café is a new addition to Steinberg Hall – Dietrich Hall, home to the Wharton School administration, several academic departmental office suites, conference rooms, and important lecture halls. The original core of this complex was the last building designed by McKim, Mead and White, in 1952.
The café is Wharton's first LEED for Commercial Interiors project and demonstrates the school’s commitment to sustainable practices. Everything from a green roof to a composting program helped it achieve LEED Gold certification. Numerous publications have lauded not only the minimal environmental impact, but also the elegant global style befitting of one of the world's best business schools.
The pre-existing food service facilities were completely reconfigured to provide a large kitchen for daily counter service and for special event catering. The new servery and kitchens are fully within the original building. The 1,300 sf addition forms a dining pavilion that looks out onto a garden along Woodland Walk designed by Ian McCarg. This space features 18’ high ceilings, equally high windows, and doors that open onto the newly created outdoor seating areas. A steel trellis with limestone clad columns extends this garden pavilion and provides shade both for the interior space as well as for the intimate outdoor rooms for summer dining.
The pavillion is self contained and is used for meetings, study, and social events when the servery is not in operation. It is an important social space which has improved opportunities for collegiality for the school, and the café has already become a destination and a draw to the broader Penn population. VMA's modern addition responds to and supports the intentions of McKim, Mead & White's stripped down classicism.