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School of Public Health Moves to University City

February 10, 2014

Chairs around a table

The School of Public Health last week officially marked its move from Drexel’s Center City Campus to a renovated and modernized Nesbitt Hall at the heart of the University City Campus, after more than $13 million in renovations over the past year.

Located at 33rd and Market Streets and measuring seven stories and 78,000 square feet, 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, the school’s incoming dean, who assumed her post on Feb. 10. “Nesbitt Hall will be one of the foremost academic public health facilities, and affirms Drexel’s prominence as one of the nation’s premier schools of public health.”

Nesbitt, the former home to the Drexel University Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, has since been completely renovated and designed to meet the specific needs of the School of Public Health.

The renovations to Nesbitt Hall were designed by Philadelphia-based Strada/UJMN. The design of the interior space is modern and airy, with clean lines that stay true to the original design of the 1960’s-built building and classic façade. Form, function and bright colors unite each floor. and Nesbitt boasts a number of environmentally friendly features, according to lead architect and Drexel alumnus George Poulin, AP ’07, who has directed a number of LEED-certified projects. Photos of the new-look Nesbitt and the renovation process are available to view on Facebook and Flickr.

Students working

The building will also be the site of 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. (Watch a video about the nursing mother's room here.) The first-floor will also include a gender-neutral bathroom.

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.

“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, the school’s associate dean for academic affairs and director of global public health initiatives.

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 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 University. Renovations to the upper floors are complete, but work on the ground floor is scheduled to begin in the spring.

The school’s move marks the first time an entire academic unit at Drexel University has relocated from Center City to the University City Campus.

The new home will house each of the school’s 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.

Conference room

It will also house the school’s numerous research centers and programs, and offer a convenient location for graduate and undergraduate public health students. 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 Center for Hunger-Free Communities will continue to operate from the Bellet Building on the Center City Campus, the school’s former home. Program staff from the Healing Hurt People program will also remain in Center City.

Many of the School of Public Health’s major events will now 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, associate dean for student and external affairs.

The renovation project and move was directed at the School of Public Health by Perry W. McFarland, the school’s associate dean for finance and administration.

“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.”