Locust Walk Wind Tunnel May Be Due to Architectural Error

So that’s the reason for all those broken umbrellas.

Photo by J. Fusco for GPTMC

Photo by J. Fusco for GPTMC

An engineering professor at Penn has weighed in on the Locust Walk Wind Tunnel. The pathway along the university’s campus gets positively hurricane-like after the 38th Street bridge, claiming lives of umbrellas and loose-fitting hats. And it’s not just windy — it’s cold.

Howard Hu tells the Daily Pennsylvanian: “The air, like water, needs to have a channel to flow through … so you need to have tall buildings lined up to experience strong flow.”


In this case, the tall buildings are three high-rise dorms that are perfectly aligned with the easterly wind -- an architectural misstep, Hu says. “Usually, for tall buildings, the architect will evaluate what kind of winds the building will experience.”

Though the Locust Walk Wind Tunnel (which merits caps, I think) was cited as a "fun fact" in a book about Penn, students take the situation quite seriously. Says sophomore Jake Lechnir: "It’s honestly a deterrent from wanting to live in the high rises."

DP commenter RIPCheapUmbrellas confirms the gravity of the situation: "I can attest that the wind tunnel has claimed the lives of at least 5 umbrellas my freshman year when I lived in Harnwell." RIP, indeed.

Poor planning may have caused Locust wind tunnel [DP]