The University of Pennsylvania plans to build 250,000 square feet of new undergraduate student housing on what's now open space near the corner of 40th and Walnut Streets, beside the Free Library of Philadelphia's West Philadelphia Branch.

The 450-bed New College House West will primarily house sophomores, juniors and seniors in a mix of five- and six-bedroom two-bath suites and two-, three- and four-bedroom one-bath suites, Anne Papageorge, Penn's vice president for facilities and real estate, said in an interview Thursday.

The $163 million project, on a site bounded by Locust Walk, Walnut Street and 40th Street, will be Penn's second custom-built "college house," bringing together undergraduates, faculty, staff and graduate students in living spaces that include rooms for seminars and extracurricular activities, Papageorge said.

Like the university's first building to be constructed especially for the residential program, New College House at Hill Field near 34th and Chestnut Streets, the new project is being designed by Philadelphia-based Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Architects. Construction is scheduled to start in the spring, with the building expected to open for occupancy in fall of 2021, Papageorge said.