Dana and David Dornsife (center) together with Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell (far left), Lucy Kerman, Drexel vice provost for University and Community Partnerships (third from right), Drexel President John Fry and the family of Philp Lindy.
Drexel University celebrated the grand opening of the Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships on Thursday, June 12 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the dedication of the Lindy House and tours of the site for the community.
The Dornsife Center, established two years ago with the help of a $10 million gift by philanthropists Dana and David Dornsife, is located on a 1.3-acre site at 35th and Spring Garden streets. The University partnered with BLTA Architects to renovate the site’s three existing buildings that had been vacant for years and were formerly used to house an elementary school and two administrative buildings.
“We’ve worked with neighbors to create something that’s more than a Drexel facility, and more than a community center,” said John A. Fry, Drexel’s president. “This shared vision was made possible by two of the nation’s great philanthropists, the Dornsifes, and I’m gratified that they believe in Drexel’s ability to help neighborhoods transform.”
As a tribute to Philadelphia philanthropist and real-estate titan Philip B. Lindy, the driving force behind Drexel’s Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, who secured the Spring Garden Street property for the University and was an active participant in the renovation, the 1850’s mansion on the site will be named in his honor. The Lindy House will be the heart of the Dornsife Center where Drexel and the community will learn and plan together.
As the venue for Drexel's research, practice and scholarship, the Dornsife Center will offer space for community outreach activities developed and delivered by the University’s participating colleges and schools, such as a free law clinic, health and wellness center, community education programs, arts collaborations, architectural design-build studios and engineering demonstrations.
“The planning for the Dornsife Center has been truly collaborative: residents of all ages from Mantua and Powelton Village, nonprofit partners, Drexel faculty, professional staff and students, faith leaders, local business owners — they have all given their time and their expertise over the past year,” said Lucy Kerman, vice provost for University and Community Partnerships. “The Dornsife Community Advisory Council is the heart of the Dornsife Center and will help direct it as we begin our operation.”
The Dornsife Center was designed to support the needs of the surrounding community. Existing structures were renovated, allowing the Center to serve a greater purpose, becoming a place for the Mantua, Powelton Village and Drexel communities to interact and share with each other. The Dornsife gift was used for the development of the site. Post-renovation the three buildings on the site provide a range of flexible spaces appropriate for individual counseling, small group meetings and workshops, large gatherings and hands-on innovation.
Dana Dornsife received her bachelor’s degree in business from Drexel. She is the founder of the Lazarex Cancer Foundation and serves as its president and CEO.
David Dornsife, a University of Southern California trustee and alumnus, is chairman of the Herrick Corp., the largest steel fabricator and contractor on the West Coast. Herrick’s projects include high rises, specialty projects, hospitals, airports and hotels.