David Rittenhouse Laboratory

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David Rittenhouse Laboratory
David Rittenhouse Laboratories.jpg
Exterior, ca. 2021
Former namesPhysical Science Building[1]
General information
TypeAcademic, research
LocationUniversity City
Address209 South 33rd Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Named forDavid Rittenhouse
OpenedSeptember 1954 (1954-09)[2]
OwnerUniversity of Pennsylvania
Technical details
Floor count6[2]
Floor area243,484 square feet (22,620.4 m2)[2]
Design and construction
ArchitectJames R. Edmonds, Jr.[2]
Renovating team
ArchitectVan Alan[2]

The David Rittenhouse Laboratory (DRL) is an academic and research building at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. The building is named for David Rittenhouse, a notable American astronomer and Penn professor of the 18th century and the president of the American Philosophical Society.[2]

DRL is the home of two departments of the University of Pennsylvania: the Physics and Astronomy Department and the Mathematics Department.[2] Many other disciplines also hold classes in the building due to its ample lecture space. Because of this, the building is one of the most heavily used at the university.[citation needed] There is also an observatory on the roof that is accessible to astronomy students.[1]

The three-story portion of the building was constructed in 1954. The four-story addition was built in 1967.[2] Partial funding for the building came from the General Authority of Pennsylvania, which has a seal displayed on the first floor of the building. The architect for the original structure was James R. Edmonds, Jr. though the addition was designed by Van Alan.[2] There are stylistic differences between the two parts of the structure – for example, the windows of the 1967 section on the Walnut Street facade are fashioned in the shape of the rounded-edge television monitors of the time.

In February 2019, a group of faculty, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and staff petitioned the administration to fix the recurring maintenance problems (e.g., ceiling leakages and poor temperature) that occur in the building.[3]


  1. ^ a b "A Guide to the Flower and Cook Observatory Records, 1875 - 1987". University of Pennsylvania Archives and Records Center. 2001. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "David Rittenhouse Laboratory". Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Wang, Daniel. "Grad students petition Penn to fix DRL's recurring water leaks and poor working conditions". www.thedp.com. Retrieved 2019-03-01.

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