Drexel President John Fry joined Brandywine Realty Trust President and CEO Jerry Sweeney and members of the community to formally open Drexel Square park this week.
Today, Brandywine Realty Trust, in partnership with Drexel University, celebrated the opening of Drexel Square—a new 1.3-acre community park—which marks the first completed project within the $3.5 billion master-planned Schuylkill Yards development in University City.
Situated directly across from 30th Street Station at the corner of 30th and Market Streets, Drexel Square park transforms a surface parking lot into a vibrant, green, community gathering space. The park is the first of several public green spaces that will eventually comprise 6.5-acres of the 14-acre Schuylkill Yards neighborhood. These greenspaces will connect 6.9 million square feet of workplace and lifestyle environments being master developed by Brandywine Realty Trust.
“We are thrilled to introduce a new park for the entire community to enjoy,” said Jerry Sweeney, president & CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust. “Schuylkill Yards is designed to create a neighborhood centered around human interaction and unique environments. Our investment in Drexel Square was the first project within the master-planned neighborhood because we understand the social, environmental, health and economic benefits that green spaces offer to communities. Drexel Square lays the foundation for what’s to come at Schuylkill Yards.”
Designed by West 8 and SHoP Architects, the $14.3 million park serves as the continuation of William Penn’s vision of Philadelphia’s “Public Room”—a place for people to gather, rest, and be renewed by the natural world. Conceived as an intimate, natural space within the urban environment, Drexel Square provides a clear transition from the city to a lush enclave, with 23 Meta Sequoia (Dawn Redwood) trees standing more than 25 feet tall lining the perimeter. The trees are complimented by an array of shrubs and perennials in over 9,000 square-feet of raised planted beds.
Reflective of Brandywine Realty Trust’s dedication to sustainability and thoughtful design, the trees and landscaping offer shaded respite, while also helping to mitigate the noise and visual impacts of the street. The elliptical green lawn, measuring more than 12,000 square feet, features an abstract graphic overlay evoking visions of the globe, while also serving as a pathway for visitors. The custom granite benches, outdoor furniture and built-in lighting features will create an inviting environment for all to enjoy.
“When we selected Brandywine as the master developer for Schuylkill Yards, we knew we found a partner who shared our values of quality and integrity for the built environment and public realm,” said John Fry, president of Drexel University. “The investment made in this park will serve the University City neighborhood and all those who enjoy it— from our local residents, students, employees, visitors and more— for generations to come.”
Drexel Square park sits directly in front of the Bulletin Building, on which Brandywine will begin construction in June 2019 in partnership with Philadelphia-based architecture firm, Kiernan Timberlake. Together, with Drexel Square, the $43.3 million re-imagination of the Bulletin Building will serve as the centerpiece of Schuylkill Yards. Embracing the building’s original design by renowned architect George Howe,
Brandywine and Timberlake will reshape the building into a high-performing work environment. The renovated building will feature more than 200,000 square feet of office space and 50,000 square feet of lab space that has been leased to life science company, Spark Therapeutics.
Following the opening of the reimagined Bulletin Building in early 2020, two ground-up developments are planned at 3001 and 3025 JFK Boulevard featuring office, retail and residential components. Drexel Square, The Bulletin Building, and the two “East” and “West” JFK towers are considered phase one of the multi- phase, master-planned interconnected neighborhood that will eventually host 14 acres of experiences unfolding within 6.9 million square feet of office, lab, residential, retail, hotel and green space.
“This project isn’t just centered around one building,” said City of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “The Schuylkill Yards project is about the transformation of an entire neighborhood, and it’s impressive to see the growth of this neighborhood happening right before our eyes. This investment is a testament to the momentum Philadelphia has as a world-class city and showcases the drive we have as Philadelphians to help this city thrive.”
As part of the opening celebration people played video games on the LED display of the Cira Centre, Brandywine Realty Trust's 29-story office building overlooking Drexel Square.
As Brandywine continues to execute on its vision for Schuylkill Yards, it remains committed to amplifying local voices and prioritizing the community through job creation and training, capacity building, local sourcing and affordable housing initiatives through its unprecedented $5.6 million Neighborhood Engagement Initiative.
“What may be the most meaningful element of this entire master development is the behind-the-scenes opportunities that Brandywine is creating for West Philadelphia residents and businesses,” said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. “Local neighborhood groups are empowered to make decisions on what’s best for their community. Previously unemployed or underemployed Philadelphians are securing union positions. Local minority enterprises are being granted working capital. Local nonprofit community development corporations are getting exposure and opportunity to new processes and contacts. This is what building a better Philadelphia looks like.”
Following an afternoon ribbon cutting ceremony, in which project partners and local dignitaries and members of the community officially celebrated the grand opening of the park, a free evening event was opened up to the community. The nighttime celebration featured a live DJ, food trucks and lawn games, and world’s largest video game display — Cira Centre, a 29-story building. Presented by Drexel’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio, the games were designed and coded by students and teachers from middle school schools across the Greater Philadelphia region
Visit www.schuylkillyards.com for additional information.