Gattuso and Drexel Partner to Build Largest Life Science Research Lab Facility in Philadelphia

Gattuso Development Partners (GDP) announced today that it will partner with Drexel University to build what is expected to become the city’s largest life sciences research and laboratory building, located on Drexel’s campus in the heart of the burgeoning University City life sciences district. GDP will partner with New York-based Vigilant Real Estate Holdings and Boston-based The Baupost Group on the project.

Designed by world-renowned Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the 11-story, 500,000 sq. ft. complex is custom-designed for life sciences research and will be located at 3201 Cuthbert Street, immediately adjacent to the historic Armory. The building will be constructed at the current site of a recreational field that is used by some of Drexel’s varsity athletics teams, student organizations and intramural and club sports. Commensurate with the construction, these activities will be relocated to the University’s Vidas Athletics Complex and a significant open green space that will be created at the current site of Myers Hall, which will be demolished.

GDP, whose principals have helped build some of Philadelphia’s most iconic structures – including the Comcast Center and the Comcast Technology Center, as well as 18 new buildings at The Navy Yard – plans to lease the site from Drexel. The University plans to lease a portion of the building upon completion for academic and research uses, and GDP has signed commitments from other life sciences tenants representing more than 55% of the available square footage. 

Rendering of the new life sciences research lab facility

“It is a privilege to partner with Drexel University to bring this state-of-the-art project to fruition,” said John Gattuso, GDP co-founder and CEO. “The vision that John Fry and his leadership team have evolved for the Drexel campus and its immediate environs has played a vital role in Philadelphia’s ability to fully leverage the world-class science that is currently being done here for the city’s long-term economic benefit.”

Drexel will occupy approximately 60,000 square feet in the proposed building. These spaces will house the University’s core research and business development operations, as well as labs that will be used for research space and academic programs within the Drexel community. The space will help support Drexel’s needs as an R1 research institution and the University’s long-term commitment to expand its research and academic impact.

“We are proud to partner with Gattuso Development Partners to bring this world-class facility to University City’s flourishing life sciences community,” said Drexel President John Fry. “As Drexel continues to play a prominent role in creating a vibrant innovation ecosystem in University City, this exciting project will generate more co-op and career opportunities for Drexel students while stimulating more educational and research partnerships with life science companies for our faculty and students.” 

Groundbreaking for 3201 Cuthbert is expected in Fall 2022, and the building is expected to be completed by Fall 2024.

“This project will offer the life science community the kind of space they need and where they need it: in the middle of the University City research corridor,” said Anne Cummins, co-founder and COO of GDP. “The building’s robust infrastructure and unique features will provide substantial functionality and flexibility that will enable and accelerate the development of science and commercialization.”

The project includes expanded floor-to-floor heights, a state-of-the-art HVAC system specially designed for laboratory research, fully enclosed loading docks, best practice chemical storage space and pH neutralization capability, five service elevators, and generous amounts of space designated for tenant equipment and vertical shaft infrastructure.

“It’s always an honor to collaborate with visionary clients, and we’re excited to be working with Gattuso Development Partners and Drexel University to bring this noteworthy project to life,” said Meghan McDermott, partner at RAMSA who serves as design lead for the project. “With a focus on highly efficient laboratory and research floors, modern amenities, outdoor space, and sustainability, this building will be a new landmark on the Drexel campus.” RAMSA’s work in Philadelphia has included Comcast Center, the Museum of the American Revolution, Gerri C. LeBow Hall and Chestnut Square on Drexel’s campus, and multiple buildings at The Navy Yard.

The Drexel facility marks the third major life sciences project for GDP, including the recent completion of the $125 million, 137,000 sq.ft. Iovance Biotherapeutics research and production facility at 300 Rouse Boulevard in The Navy Yard, which will employ an estimated 500 people and fuel the next phase of growth for Iovance, a leading cancer cell therapy company headquartered in San Francisco. In addition, GDP is leading the ongoing construction of a 130,000 sq.ft. cGMP facility at 2500 League Island Boulevard at The Navy Yard.

“The demand for life science development continues to hold incredible potential for economic growth throughout the city and region,” Gattuso said. “We see the Drexel project as a catalyst for that growth, which will continue to leverage new private investment and generate jobs as it anchors the next great wave of life sciences development.”