Student Union @ Houston Hall

Space and Events is proud to maintain and support the Student Union @ Houston Hall, the nation’s oldest operating student union. Houston Hall and the other Space and Events spaces are the central home for the Penn community. Learn about the history of Houston Hall.

Events Photo Gallery

Houston Hall Main Lobby

The Houston Haunt

To celebrate Halloween, every room in Houston Hall was decorated and offerings or food, snacks, decorations, photo booth, games and more!

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Students posing for a photo while trying out while trying out the new food offered by the Houston Market during the

Houston Hall Open House

With the students back on campus, Houston Hall opened its doors to welcome them back. The Open House included live music, food and more.

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2 students pose as Thing 1 and thing 2 for the Thing before Fling event

The Thing Before Fling

Spring Fling is a huge event on campus, so the night before the big event, Houston Hall becomes a wonderland of games, food and adventure.

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Welcome Desk

Do you want to know what’s going on in the Student Union? Do not know where one of your classes is located? Need to know how to get to City Hall? Then look no further than the Welcome Desk, which can help you with almost any question. Located in Houston Hall, the Welcome Desk is our way to greet visitors to the Student Union. The Welcome Desk is staffed with knowledgeable student workers capable of answering your questions or helping you find someone who can. Along with general campus information, the Welcome Desk is ready to answer questions about daily events happening in the Student Union.

  • The Information Center handles sign-outs of all Game Room equipment, board games and Practice Room keys
  • The Almanac and Daily Pennsylvanian are distributed at the desk. There is also the Happenings @ Penn Monthly Calendar and several flyers for upcoming events on Penn’s campus and nearby Philly neighborhoods.
  • An internal (Penn Mail) and external (USPS) mailbox is located directly behind the desk.
  • Bulletin boards are located on the first and third floor to post flyers. There are snack machines, beverage vending, change machines and an ATM machine located on the lower level.

Lost & Found

Misplaced your ID? Lost your umbrella? Stop by the Information Desk and check for your lost items in our lost and found. The Information Desk Staff does their best to reunite lost items with their owner, so be sure to keep an eye out for an email letting you know we have your lost item at the desk! After two weeks, all unclaimed lost items will be turned over to UPPD. Lost items are held for two weeks before being donated. Valuable items or items with personal information are handed over to Penn Public Safety. The Welcome Desk only accepts found items from Space and Events locations (Student Union @ Houston Hall , Irvine, the Arts, Research, and Culture House (ARCH) , Iron Gate Theatre).

Common Areas

The Game Room at the Student Union @ Houston Hall

Located on the first floor, the Student Union @ Houston Hall Game Room is an open lounge where students can play games, relax with television and meet up for social events. The space is equipped with an air hockey table, two ping-pong tables, Skeeball, foosball, a phone charging station, classic arcade games and a Smash Brothers corner (donated by the Penn Smash Bros group). Students are welcome to come at their leisure and use the space. Grab a bite at Benny’s Diner (a student run food establishment!) and play a game or two! Houston Hall even holds special events and giveaways for students here!

The Reading Room at the Student Union @ Houston Hall

Located on the first floor of Houston Hall, The Reading Room is a great space to study and relax. The space is set up with comfy lounge furniture and several study tables for all levels of student work. It’s a great place for individual long study sessions, or group meetups.

The Silfen Study Center at Williams Hall

The Silfen Study Center is just across the quad from the Student Union @ Houston Hall . Located in Williams Hall just next to the Williams Café, Silfen is a popular place for early morning to late night study sessions. Each table is equipped with several outlets to allow students to plug in and charge their laptops and phones. Williams Cafe is steps away, to give students the refueling they need during study breaks. The space is even equipped with a self service printer, to allow students to print papers for class.

The Music Practice Rooms at Irvine Auditorium

The Music Practice Rooms are available to Penncard holding members of the Penn Community during the Fall and Spring semesters. These can be accessed by signing out a practice room key at the Student Union @ Houston Hall Front Desk and taking it to Irvine Auditorium. Practice rooms are available with pianos or without pianos and are given out on a first come first serve basis. Rooms cannot be reserved in advance. Hours are limited, so check in advance to see if the Practice Rooms are open.

Student Services at the Student Union @ Houston Hall

The Student Union @ Houston Hall is home to a plethora of organizations dedicated to serving the Penn Community. Check out these amazing people and see how you can get involved with the Penn!

  • Penn Student AgenciesDiscover a vibrant array of student-run businesses within the Penn community, from Penn Visual Solutions and Williams Café to the newly acquired agency, The Record Yearbook. Explore these agencies, all created and operated by Penn students for the campus community, including the the oldest business, firstServices, established in 1933.
  • S.P.A.R.C. – The Spiritual and Religious Life Center, along with the office of the chaplain, coordinates and oversees all religious activities on campus and encourages initiatives concerned with the moral, ethical, and spiritual dimensions of university life
  • Office of Student Affairs – OSA helps oversee student government, leadership programs, and special events such as Spring Fling, Hey Day and Ivy Day!
  • Space and Events Reservations – Does your student group need to reserve space for your meeting, rehearsal, party, or performance? Space and Events have you covered. Check out our student reservation info page to reserve a space within Space and Events! Space can be reserved in Houston Hall, the Arts, Research, and Culture House (ARCH) , Irvine and other buildings!

Houston Hall History

The oldest operating student Union in the country, Houston Hall, was built in 1896 as a private club space for Penn students. Today, it provides a welcoming environment where students can interact with each other, support their community, and find a home away from home. Today, this historic building remains at the center of campus life–a place where students, faculty, staff, alumni and guests gather for social, recreational, educational and cultural activities. After a multimillion dollar renovation project in 2000, Houston Hall looks much like it did in 1896 but with all the modern conveniences. With fourteen special event spaces, multimedia technology, a food court, and vending and retail space, Houston Hall is a student union with character. The Reading Room and Bistro spaces on the first floor offer quiet study spaces, couches for lounging, spaces to enjoy lunch, study, or play arcade and table games. On the ground floor you’ll find dining options through the Houston Marketplace and Insomnia Cookies, with the all day breakfast spot, Benny’s Diner on the first floor. The second and third floors house the SPARC (The Spiritual and Religious Life Cen-ter), Office for Student Affairs, and the Space and Events administrative office to help you reserve space for your events. This all coexists with the beautiful spaces for meetings, parties, performances, and every type of event in be-tween that students want to create.