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Drexel School of Public Health Opens Its Own Building

February 6, 2014

The Drexel University School of Public Health today officially marked its move to a renovated and modernized Nesbitt Hall, a seven-story, 78,000 square-foot building in the geographic heart of the University City Campus of Drexel University.

Nesbitt Hall Student SnowLocated at 33rd and Market Streets, Nesbitt Hall has significant value to the continued growth and expansion of the school’s academic offerings and its relationship with the communities it serves.

“The move to our very own building in the heart of Drexel University is a major milestone and defining moment for the School of Public Health,” said Ana Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH, incoming Dean, Drexel University School of Public Health, who will assume her post on February 10, 2014.  “Nesbitt Hall will be one of the foremost academic public health facilities, and affirms Drexel’s prominence as one of the nation’s premiere schools of public health.”

“Our move to this new, bright and modern facility will help prepare future generations of students for leadership roles in addressing some of the world’s most pressing public health needs,” said Shannon P. Márquez, PhD, MEng, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of Global Public Health Initiatives, Drexel University School of Public Health.

Nesbitt Hall, the former home to the Drexel University Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, has undergone more than $13M in renovations over the past year.  The building has since been completely renovated and designed to meet the specific needs of the School of Public Health. See Image Gallery of Renovations

“We thank Drexel University President John A. Fry, the Board of Trustees, the Connelly Foundation and all of the funders, and everyone who made this remarkable new home possible,” said Diez Roux.

The renovations to Nesbitt Hall were designed by Philadelphia-based Strada/UJMN.  The design of the interior space is modern, airy and with clean lines that stay true to the original design of the 1960’s building and classic façade.  Form, function and bright colors unite each floor and Nesbitt Hall has a number of environmentally-friendly features, according to lead architect and Drexel alumnus George Poulin, AIA, LEED, AP ’07, who has directed a number of LEED-certified projects. See Series of Videos from George Poulin About the Building

Nesbitt Hall LabYet, each floor was specifically designed to meet the unique needs of each academic department, while fostering collegial interaction amongst students and faculty.  The building will also encourage even greater collaboration with the community.

“The School of Public Health is known for our commitment to health and human rights, and addressing urban health and health disparities,” said Jennifer Kolker, Associate Dean for Public Health Practice, Drexel University School of Public Health.  “We blend rigorous science and meaningful service, and this building will benefit our real-world engagement for students with the community.”

The updated interior of Nesbitt Hall features instructional computer laboratory facilities, innovative and large research spaces, and an environmental and industrial hygiene laboratory, as well as many open-space collaboration areas, conference areas, numerous student lounges and other amenities.  The building also houses two, unique idea labs. Watch Time-Lapse Video of Construction of Environmental Health Lab

The upper floors of the building are dedicated for use by the School of Public Health. The ground floor, including the lobby, two large lecture halls and other spaces, will be available for use by the entire Drexel University community.  While renovations to the upper floors are complete, work to the ground floor is scheduled to begin in the spring.

Nesbitt Hall Lounge SpaceThe building will also host a number of Drexel University firsts.  Located just off the lobby will be the only dedicated nursing mother’s room for use by all Drexel University students, faculty and staff.  The first-floor will also include a gender-neutral bathroom. Watch Video of Dr. Jennifer Breaux Discussing the Nursing Mother's Room

The School of Public Health’s move also marks the first time an entire academic unit at Drexel University has relocated from Center City to the University City Campus.

The new home for the School of Public Health will house each of its four academic departments, including Community Health and Prevention, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Environmental and Occupational Health, and Health Management and Policy, as well as the global health and undergraduate programs.

It will also house the school’s numerous research centers and programs, and offer a convenient location for graduate and undergraduate public health students.  In fact, the first floor lobby will include a public health graduate student collaboration and learning space, which is being supported by a $350,000 grant from the Connelly Foundation. The building's renovations also received $1 million towards construction costs from Drexel University trustee Earl Stafford.

Nesbitt Hall StudentsThe Center for Hunger-Free Communities will continue to operate from the Bellet Building, which is the School of Public Health’s previous home, on the Center City Campus.  Program staff from the Healing Hurt People program will also remain in Center City.

Many of the School of Public Health’s prominent research seminars, lecture series’ and major events will be held on the University City Campus.

The move also offers the school’s students the many social, cultural and academic benefits of being located in the heart of a comprehensive, urban campus community.

“The new building is inspiring, and our location is central to the modern athletic facilities, numerous eateries and restaurants, and a wealth of museums, concert halls and theaters within the university and across Philadelphia,” said Warren Hilton, EdD, Associate Dean for Student and External Affairs, Drexel University School of Public Health.  “The City of Philadelphia is diverse, vibrant and has deep healthcare and public health roots.”

The renovation project and move was directed at the School of Public Health by Perry W. McFarland, MBA, Associate Dean for Finance and Administration, Drexel University School of Public Health.

“The relocation of the School of Public Health has been years in the making, and it is the culmination of a great deal of hard work by many people within and outside of the university,” said McFarland.  “The School of Public Health’s growth has been rapid and significant over the last decade.  I’m proud to have shared in that growth.  The move to our own dedicated and modern facility is a reflection of that growth and will allow the School of Public Health to reach even greater heights.”