Philadelphia's planning commission has approved the University of Pennsylvania Health System's plans for a new hospital building designed by Foster + Partners that would take the place of the university's Penn Tower structure once its demolition is complete.

The commission voted last week to permit changes to the University of Pennsylvania master plan needed for construction of the building at 300 S. 33rd St., which will serve as a patient-intake hub for surrounding medical facilities.

The roughly 343-foot-high, 1.1 million-square-foot New Patient Pavilion will include about 500 inpatient rooms, 50 operating rooms, and an emergency section, as well as a 650-space underground parking garage, Martin Gregorski, director of the commission's planning division, said in a presentation.

Planners anticipate linking the new tower with Penn's existing hospital building complex and with the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, Gregorski said. The proposals also will require action by City Council, he said.

Penn spokeswoman Susan Phillips declined to share additional details about the plans - which she characterized as being in their early stages - ahead of their approval by city and university officials.

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