The beginning of this academic year offered a drastically different Drexel map for students to use to find classes. A lot of new buildings, construction projects and renovations have happened since students were last on campus, as many have probably already noticed.
And while Randell Hall and Curtis Hall are still too confusing to describe, here’s a recap of everything new about Drexel’s campus.
Let’s start at the new building that’s been in the works since 2011. The new Gerri C. LeBow Hall at 3200 Market St. is now open for classes this fall term. Those who were around before Matheson Hall was demolished in fall 2011 can finally see the fruits of all the construction efforts. The 12-story building’s official opening dedication will be held the first week of October, and the upper floors with some of the administrative staff and professors’ rooms aren’t expected to open until December. The first four floors, however, are fully functioning. The Starbucks in the Pearlstein Building across from LeBow Hall will move over to the new building by the end of fall term. And more importantly, there are now open sidewalks on the side of Market Street in front of LeBow Hall.
Notice the area around the LeBow College of Business’ latest addition? The flowers and cement holdings are gone in the area between Market and Chestnut streets on 31st Street, though the layout with the grass looks vaguely similar. Construction on the 32nd Street right-of-way to create the Raymond G. Perelman Plaza started at the end of August, and will continue until the spring. The area by the Paul Peck Alumni Center is already starting to look different, too.
Over on Chestnut Street, it may be difficult to recognize the section between 32nd and 33rd streets. There’s still some construction outside of MacAlister Hall, but the Handschumacher Dining Center is now open. Returning students will be surprised to enter a glass cylinder, rather than a pyramid, to eat at the cafeteria. Sadly, customers may no longer buy smoothies and sandwiches at Creese Café, but Vegetate, a vegan and vegetarian-friendly quick service spot, will soon be taking its place in October.
Chestnut Square eateries like Shake Shack, Yogorino, Zavino and CoZara will be opening throughout the fall and winter terms. Thankfully, Joe Coffee officially opened the Saturday before classes started so students can wake up before going to classes. Plaza Artist Materials & Picture Framing is also open, too, so if waking up and smelling the coffee isn’t going to help you with your classes, the arts supply store just might.
While you’re on that part of campus, check out the renovated Barnes & Noble after a meal or between classes. The University’s bookstore has a newer, sleeker space and a completely redesigned interior, so there’s much to look at while checking out books. Plus, the store will soon have a working corner entry available so you can enter the store from 33rd Street.
Across from the new LeBow Hall, University Crossings now has two 60-foot-wide “Drexel” signs that can be seen from Penn’s campus, the Schuylkill Expressway or 30th Street Station. Keep an eye out for it at night, when the brightly lit sign dominates the Philadelphia skyline. The signs were installed at the end of spring term, but they’re still a glowing recent addition to Drexel’s campus.
The Frederic O. Hess Laboratory on 34th Street and Lancaster Avenue was completely demolished by the end of the summer, and the laboratory’s machine shop was moved to the Philadelphia Parking Authority building on 3101 Market St. The space will be replaced by Lancaster Square, a 24-story building with dorms, a dining hall and retail space set to open next fall
Meanwhile, other University units are moving into new spaces. Drexel’s School of Public Health is moving to Nesbitt Hall in the fall of 2013, and the interior renovation for the second to seventh floors will be completed in December. Additionally, the Psychology Department has moved to Stratton Hall now that the second and third floors have been renovated.
Even after all those construction accomplishments, there will still be a lot of hard hats and bulldozers on campus in the upcoming terms. But many of the 2012 Drexel Campus Master Plan’s buildings and changes that previously existed only in artist renderings or the written word are finally open for business.