Every member of the Drexel community, past and present, has been a part of Drexel’s evolution in some way. But for this article, DrexelNow focused on a specific moment in Drexel evolution, summer 2014, to take a closer look at some of the projects that students, faculty and professional staff can now enjoy, or at least watch progress, as we start the 2014-15 academic year.
According to Vice President for University Facilities Robert Francis, EdD, the summer’s construction projects served as a kind of transition, he said. Drexel, at the moment, has moved out of an era of erecting freestanding buildings and is now focused on:
- Improving existing spaces for instruction and research in existing buildings
- Improving the quality of life in “third spaces” (study spaces, retail spots, etc),
- Improving the public image for the University and for West Philadelphia (includes landscape and streetscape projects)
So, take a moment to move across campus (and beyond!) to see what’s new on campus. If you don’t have the time, below is a list for your convenience.
Raymond G. Perelman Plaza
You’ve no doubt noticed that it’s gotten a bit trickier to cut across campus from the Main Building and the Bossone Research Enterprise Center to the Korman Building and the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building (and vice versa). But take heart: Those fences will only be up for another week. Work on phase 2 of the Raymond G. Perelman Plaza progressed rapidly over the summer and is nearly complete. The new landscape portion of the 32nd Street esplanade will be dedicated on Sept. 30 and open to the public to enjoy as Drexel’s newest outdoor gathering place, with well-planned gardens, seating, bike racks and a pedestrian-friendly walkway. Final completion of the storm water retention infrastructure at the north end of the plaza will be complete by the end of November. This transformation of 32nd Street was funded by a $5 million gift from the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Education Foundation.
In perhaps the most dramatic change to the University City Campus skyline, American Campus Communities’ 580,000 square foot student housing, dining and retail complex has risen 24 stories out of the ground at the corner of Lancaster Avenue and 34th Street. After the snowy winter, construction picked up the pace over the spring and summer, with a new floor added nearly every week. The Summit is on target to open for occupancy in September 2015. When completed, the complex will add more than 1,300 student-housing beds, a 400-seat dining facility and 20,000 square feet of retail to campus. The $170 million project is funded entirely by American Campus Communities.
Steinbright Career Development Center Annex in 3201 Arch Street
The headquarters of the Drexel Co-op program opened in its new home on the first floor of 3201 Arch Street, suite 110, which was previously occupied by the Drexel Architecture Program. The newly renovated space provides a larger home for Drexel’s renowned cooperative education program with more office and programming space, while allowing SCDC to devote the second floor (suite 250) to Career Services.
Maguire Field at Vidas Athletic Complex
The formerly bumpy, grassy area in the northwest corner of the Vidas Athletic Complex has been transformed into Drexel’s newest artificial, multi-purpose turf field. The beautiful new weather-resistant field will not only be an asset to Drexel’s varsity and club sports teams, but will also be used by West Catholic Preparatory High School’s football team for practices in a unique partnership between Drexel and West Catholic. Development of the field was made possible by a $1.5 million gift from the Maguire Foundation. It opened for use in early August.
University Crossings Exterior Renovations
American Campus Communities has invested $13 million in exterior renovations to University Crossings. Known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Office Building before it re-opened as a student apartment building in 2002, the 87-year-old structure at the corner of 32nd Street and JFK Boulevard is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The improvements, which are expected to be complete in late November, involve exterior cleaning, repointing bricks and water infiltration repairs.
Nesbitt Hall – First Floor
The second through seventh floors of Nesbitt Hall were renovated and repurposed for the School of Public Health last year. The first floor was put on hold so that classes could continue to be held in Stein Auditorium during the fall, winter and spring terms. In April, the contractor re-mobilized to complete renovations to the first floor, and the work is now substantially complete. Nesbitt Hall has now been fully refreshed from top to bottom.
Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships
Three buildings on a 1.3-acre site at 35th and Spring Garden Streets have been renovated to house the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. Completion of the project and the grand opening of the center were celebrated at a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 12, and the facility is currently delivering a variety of services to the community in the newly renovated spaces. The historic 1850s mansion on the site has been named the Lindy House in honor of Philadelphia philanthropist Philip B. Lindy, who secured the property for the University. A $10 million donation from philanthropists Dana and David Dornsife was used to fund the renovation project.
Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services Center
A groundbreaking ceremony was held in early June and construction is well underway at 850 N. 11th Street on a new, 17,000 square foot addition that will double the size of the existing 11th Street Family Health Services Center of Drexel University. Phase 1, a new parking lot on the site, opened the week of July 21. The new addition is scheduled for completion in August 2015, and renovations to the existing building are expected to be complete in September 2015. The project is being generously supported by a $2.5 million gift from the Sheller Family Foundation.
Three Parkway – College of Nursing and Health Professions
Construction activity has been continuing downtown for phase 3 of the College of Nursing and Health Professions’ move into the Three Parkway property. The rapidly growing college will move into the ninth floor and remaining space on the sixth floor when the fit-out of new offices on those floors is complete in December 2014.