From left to right: John Grady, senior vice president at Wexford; Tim Sanders, senior investment officer at Ventas; Drexel University President John Fry; Nancy Trainer, University architect and associate vice president at Drexel; Alan Greenberger, vice pesident for Real Estate & Facilities and Distinguished Teaching Professor at Drexel; Terri Schmitt, director of Space Planning at Drexel; Senator Vincent Hughes; Laura N. Gitlin, PhD, dean of the College of Nursing & Health Professions and Distinguished University Professor at Drexel; Charles Cairns, MD, Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Dean of the College of Medicine and senior vice president for medical affairs at Drexel; Elisabeth Van Bockstaele, PhD, founding dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies, senior vice president for graduate and online education and dean of the Graduate College at Drexel; Morgan Van Dexter, Drexel nursing student at the College of Nursing & Health Professions; and Mary Gallagher Gordon, PhD, vice dean of Strategic Operations and Academic Services at Drexel's College of Nursing and Health Professions.
Drexel University recently celebrated the conclusion of a yearslong undertaking and the beginning of a new era for the University: the official opening of Drexel’s Health Sciences Building housing three colleges and schools and most of Drexel’s health-related programs in one location in the heart of University City.
In September, the 12-story, 460,000-square-foot building located at 36th and Filbert Streets became the academic home of the College of Nursing and Health Professions, the College of Medicine and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies. A ribbon cutting ceremony on Dec. 7 brought together Drexel leaders and its partners with Wexford Science + Technology and real estate investment trust Ventas to celebrate the latest addition to the uCity Square Innovation district, near Drexel’s University City Campus.
“One major component of Drexel’s mission to serve the city, commonwealth, and greater public good is our commitment to educate great future doctors, nurses, physician assistants, nutritionists, dieticians, and other health science professionals,” said Drexel President John Fry. “With the grand opening of our Health Sciences Building, Drexel has officially taken a major step toward achieving that mission in full.”
The College of Nursing and Health Professions began occupying the space over the summer and is currently using the building for classes, research laboratories and office space; Dragons in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies will begin moving over from Drexel’s Center City Campus in early 2023, and those in the College of Medicine will follow in August of that year from Center City Campus and Queen Lane Campus. Then, many of Drexel’s health-related programs will be under one roof and on one campus in Philadelphia— for the first time in Drexel history.
The state-of-the-art building features a wide variety of modern instructional classrooms, laboratories and offices, including spaces for virtual reality, anatomy teaching, study, creative arts therapies and physical therapy as well as wellness, faith and lactation rooms.
The opening of the Health Sciences Building centralizes many of Drexel’s health-related programs and enhances collaboration, research and practice opportunities for Drexel students, faculty and professional staff members. Those Dragons will also have better access to the resources and recreational spaces on the University’s main campus in University City, including the Drexel Recreation Center, athletic fields, student organizations and dining facilities. They will also benefit from opportunities to connect with the neighboring community for innovative collaborations, education and community engagement.
The Health Sciences Building was developed and is owned by Wexford Science & Technology and Ventas; Drexel is leasing the building for the next 30 years. Construction was led by Turner Construction and Perryman Building and Construction.
"With the new Health Sciences Building, over 4,000 students, faculty, and professional staff will join the dynamic and collaborative uCity Square community,” said John Grady, Senior Vice President, Wexford Science and Technology. “Drexel’s Health Science students will have access to the tremendous learning and training opportunities provided not only within their curriculum, but throughout this innovation community. We see this as a new talent pipeline, right here within district, that will support our healthcare and life sciences companies, and continue to drive economic growth in University City and across greater Philadelphia."
The opening of the Health Sciences Building this year represents an important chapter of eight-year history of this Drexel relocation and investment in University City. In 2014, Drexel and Wexford partnered to purchase the 14-acre site formerly housing the University City High School from the School District of Philadelphia; in the fall of 2021, both Drexel and Wexford opened a facility housing two West Philly institutions — the Samuel Powel Elementary School and the Science Leadership Academy Middle School —on the same site, which Drexel owns and leases to the School District of Philadelphia. Construction of both the Powel Elementary/Science Leadership Academy Middle School facility and the Health Sciences Building were paused for six months in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.