Posts tagged with "Drexel University":

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A new center for Jewish life in West Philly takes design cues from a menorah

When students return to class at one Philadelphia school this semester, they will have a new Hillel to call home.

The Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life at Drexel University, designed by San Francisco–based Natoma Architects, anchors Jewish life on campus. The firm, which came to the project with extensive experience designing spaces for Jewish life and memory, wanted to "create a continuing community of Jewish values through meeting, learning, ceremony and ritual."

To achieve this, the center's design invokes shape and spirit of a menorah, the ritual candelabra that symbolizes wisdom and the creation myth, among other things. (Those who celebrated Chanukah last week light a chanukiah, or nine-candle menorah.)

The four-level, three-story building features a worship space on top divided into three sections for Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox services, plus a library. A circular court, above, connects the three spaces and gives synagogue-goers a taste of sky, free from the clutter of other buildings. Below that, offices and flexible classrooms provide venues for meetings and discussion groups, while the first and most social ground floor is connected to the upstairs by a gracious staircase that doubles as stadium seating. The basement, a kitchen and storage space, rounds out the program.

Outside, handsome, complex brickwork references the weaving of tallit, Jewish prayer shawls, and Philadelphia's vernacular redbrick facades.

Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron praised the building in a recent review: "At a time when so many new buildings in our city have become relentlessly generic, it’s a pleasure to see one saturated with narrative and meaning." The structure, Saffron said, is intended to attract more Jews to Drexel, where about seven percent of students identify as Jewish.

Natoma Architects, founded by Stanley Saitowitz, has completed synagogues in two California cities that use the same menorah motif to different effect. At Beth Sholom Synagogue in San Francisco, above, Saitowitz invoked the menorah's traditional curves to craft a stone sanctuary on a plinth above the street. At La Jolla's Beth El Synagogue, concrete columns alternate with glass windows and open space to create the characteristic menorah shape. Saitowitz's clean detailing extends to the smallest Judaica, too. His firm has a stainless steel mezuzah for sale, as well as a threaded steel chanukiah. The $9.6-million Center for Jewish Life is one small component of the university's recent growth. Drexel is in the midst of a major expansion, part of a $3.5-billion project to spur development in neighborhoods on opposing sides of the Schuylkill River.
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SHoP and West 8 reveal plans for Philadelphia “Innovation Neighbrhood” at Drexel University

Fourteen acres next to Philadelphia’s 30th Street train station will be transformed into a $3.5 billion “innovation neighborhood” designed to mix education, housing and entrepreneurship, under plans unveiled this week. [beforeafter]Current view looking northwest towards University City. © 2016 SHoP Architects PC / West 8Future view looking northwest towards University City. Schuylkill Yards will be built intentionally in phases designed by different architects over time. © 2016 SHoP Architects PC / West 8[/beforeafter] Schuylkill Yards is the name of the mixed-use project, which will add up to eight million square feet of offices, labs, and housing in new and recycled buildings next to the third busiest passenger rail station in the country. Drexel University, which assembled the land and envisioned the project, announced this week that it has selected Brandywine Realty Trust of Philadelphia to be the master developer and its joint venture partner in the project. SHoP Architects and the Dutch firm West 8 are working on the master plan. SHoP will handle the district planning and development of the architectural standards, and West 8 will be responsible for creating the public realm and development of the landscape standards. Renderings unveiled this week show a combination of high-rise and low-rise buildings on a 10-acre site next to Drexel’s main campus, Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, and Brandywine’s Cira Centre development. “Schuylkill Yards will undeniably transform Philadelphia’s skyline as new towers rise on the west side of the Schuylkill River,” said Gerard H. Sweeney, president and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust. [beforeafter]Current view from Center City looking west towards West Philadelphia. © 2016 SHoP Architects PC / West 8Future view from Center City looking west towards West Philadelphia. © 2016 SHoP Architects PC / West 8[/beforeafter] Proposed uses in this “collaborative neighborhood” include entrepreneurial spaces, educational facilities and research laboratories, corporate offices, residential and retail spaces, hospitality and cultural venues, and public open spaces. While the community is being designed for a wide range of users, from educational and medical institutions to residents and businesses, developers say the common theme will be the pursuit of innovation “Drexel has always believed there’s a superior use for this unique location — essentially the 50 yard line of the Eastern Seaboard — as a neighborhood built around collaboration and innovation. That’s why the University assembled these parcels, and the time is right to put this vision into action,” said Drexel President John A. Fry. “Schuylkill Yards is more than a large-scale development; it will be the heart of America’s next great urban innovation district.” The developers say this is a long-term investment in Philadelphia and its University City neighborhood, and it’s aimed at people who want to live or work in the area and have easy access to the train station. Besides its proximity to 30th Street Station, Schuylkill Yards will have connections to Philadelphia’s international airport. The master plan calls for a new gateway to Drexel and University City, a real estate submarket with a high concentration of education and medical institutions. Construction of Schuylkill Yards will take place in multiple phases over the course of approximately 20 years. As master developer, Brandywine, will oversee a team that includes Gotham Organization leading the residential development, and Longfellow Real Estate Partners leading the life sciences component. When completed, developers say, the site will contain a mix of repurposed existing buildings and new towers connected by a “diverse network of public spaces.” The development will begin with the creation of Drexel Square, a 1.3 acre park at 30th and Market streets, directly across from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station. In addition, they say, the historic former Bulletin Building will  be reimagined by transforming its east facade with “inside/out viewports and a dynamic front screen.” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said the project represents “one of the most valuable assemblages of real estate” in the nation. “Schuylkill Yards is a big step forward in University City’s transition to a next-generation business district,” he said. “It will provide our region’s current and future innovators with a central hub for collaboration and signal to the world that Philadelphia is ready for business in the 21st century’s new economy.” Schuylkill Yards “will bring new, innovative businesses and residents to Pennsylvania, and the potential economic impact is tremendous,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, “Those who choose to make Schuylkill Yards their home will have access to many of the most innovative companies, organizations and educational institutions in our state.”
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Philly’s University City to undergo a ground-up rethink by Ayers Saint Gross, ZGF, and OLIN

In West Philadelphia, a team of developers, planners, and architects are asking one of urbanists' favorite questions: How can a mega-development be made to feel like a neighborhood, and not a bland corporate campus plopped in the middle of the city? Lead developers Wexford Science + Technology and the University City Science Center are spearheading the from-scratch transformation of a former superblock into a sort of mini city within a city. The developers' suggested new name for University City, uCitySquare, is bland, The Philadelphia Inquirer's Inga Saffron contends, though the master plans may not be. Ayers Saint Gross took the lead on the plan, with Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang as a contributor. It appears that the project is riding the same trends that developers used to remake Philly's 12th and Market area into a successful mixed-use district. The uCitySquare master plan would break the 14-acre site into four pieces by restoring 37th and Cuthbert streets, demapped in the urban renewal that transformed the once-dense neighborhood of row houses into growth space for the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel. It suggests moving 37th Street east of its original location, to make traffic and pedestrian flow smoother along the north-south access between Penn and the residential neighborhood of Powelton Village. Stubby Cuthbert Street would be extended east-west, linking Presbyterian Hospital to the Drexel campus. So far, the uses of two of the four parcels have been set. Drexel commissioned Rogers Partners to build an elementary and a middle school. Project start dates are contingent on budget negotiations with the city's school district. The first buildings are sprouting. ZGF Architects' 3675 Market will break ground this spring. The bulky glass cube's main tenant is the Cambridge Innovation Center. The Baltimore-based firm is doing a second building at 37th and Warren with solar panels embedded into the facade. Erdy McHenry will design a mid-rise apartment building with ground-floor retail on Lancaster Avenue that breaks ground this summer. The developers are committed to making common spaces not boring. The University City Science Center says that there will be a supermarket, wide sidewalks, and underground parking to minimize street space devoted to cars. The master plan calls for Philadelphia-based OLIN to design a public park at the center of the site. So far, these are good promises that are tempered by the science center's present foray into urbanism: folding chairs and brick pavers along a pedestrian-only stretch of 37th Street that will connect to uCitySquare is intensely uninviting.
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Drexel University Breaks Ground on Perelman Plaza Campus Center Redesign

The 32nd Street corridor at Drexel University in Philadelphia has become a hub for student gatherings, interaction, and events. Situated between Chestnut and Market Streets in the campus center, the corridor’s current design, however, does not serve the social and functional needs of its college population. In March, landscape architecture firm Andropogon released primary renderings and plans for a complete redesign of the space now known as Perelman Plaza. In August, more comprehensive images were revealed, and now the project is underway. Two weeks ago, Andropogon broke ground in Phase One on the site, razing the existing awkwardly angled hardscape to begin construction of a practical design for the coexistence of human traffic and nature. Perelman Plaza, named after its $5 million benefactor Raymond G. Perelman of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Education Foundation, is set to foster community within the student body as a physical connection of the campus buildings surrounding the site. Plans reveal that Perelman Plaza will serve as an important link between old and new Drexel University structures, including the LeBow College of Business and the mixed-use Chestnut Square, both set to open in Fall 2013. Phase One of the plaza's creation will focus mostly on the landscape architecture of Cohen Garden, nestled in the courtyard between the Bossone Research Enterprise Center and the adjacent Peck Alumni Center. Future phases of the Perelman Plaza design will coordinate student spaces for large outdoor events, seating, and pedestrian traffic with natural settings for shade and aesthetic appeal. Andropogon has also proposed sections of high performance landscape that will be modified for sustainable management of rain and stormwater. The project is part of Drexel’s larger Campus Master Plan, an initiative extending through 2017 for expansion and improvements within the university that will better integrate it with the city of Philadelphia.
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Drexel Opens Revamped Venturi Scott-Brown Building in Philadelphia

A few years ago Drexel University embarked on an ambitious plan to convert one of Philadelphia’s iconic postmodern landmarks by Venturi Scott Brown Associates (VSBA) into a new home for the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. Tonight the University will celebrate the official opening of its new building, dubbed the URBN Center, with a series of performances and demonstrations to showcase student work. Minneapolis-based Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle (MS&R) led the renovation of VSBA’s 3501 Market Street, formally the Institute of Scientific Information, and the adjacent building at 3401 Filbert Street (designed by Bower, Lewis & Thrower). Pritzker-winner Robert Venturi and his wife and partner, Denise Scott Brown, famously called their buildings “decorated sheds,” a phrase intended to reflect a design philosophy that spaces should adapt to a variety of uses—hence, making Drexel's decision to overhaul the interior of 3501 Market in keeping with the architecture duo’s original intent for the building. MS&R re-imagined the vast blank floor plan, but the firm was careful not to meddle with Venturi’s colorful mosaic facade. The firm radically changed the 140,000-square-foot facility—creating a dynamic maze of stairways and beams that spill into a number of different work spaces that house a music recording studio, a video game design lab, a printing studio, and a television broadcast production facility. Richard A. Hayne, a member of the board of trustees and the CEO of the Philadelphia-based brand Urban Outfitters, donated $25 million to Drexel to buy the building. The university raised the remaining $47 million to fund construction costs.
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Three Winning Teams Imagine Sustainable Infrastructure for Infill Philadelphia: Soak It Up!

On Friday, three winners of the Infill Philadelphia: Soak It Up! design competition were announced following deliberation by a jury of sustainable stormwater infrastructure industry insiders at Drexel University on Thursday. Created by the Philadelphia Water Department, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Community Design Collaborative, the competition called for creative and sustainable solutions for Philadelphia’s stormwater management. Architects, landscape architects, engineers, and other professionals formed 28 teams to provide innovative means for urban infrastructure to transform the city. From nine finalists, three winners were selected, each responding to a different urban context (industrial, commercial, and neighborhood) and cashing in on the $10,000 prize. Winner, Neighborhood - Greening the Grid Meeting Green (Pictured at top) Team Members: OLIN, Philadelphia, PA Gilmore & Associates, New Britain, PA International Consultants, Philadelphia, PA MM Partners, Philadelphia, PA Penn Praxis SMP Architects, Philadelphia, PA Winner, Commercial - Retail Retrofit Stormwater reStore Team Members: Urban Engineers, Philadelphia, PA Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, New York, NY Spiezle Architectural Group, Trenton, NJ Winner, Industrial - Warehouse Watershed Leveraging Water + Plants in Zero Lot Sites Team Members: Roofmeadow, Philadelphia, PA In Posse - A Subsidiary of AKF, Philadelphia, PA m2 Architecture, Philadelphia, PA Meliora Environmental Design, Phoenixville, PA SED Design, Blue Bell, PA Sere, Spring Mills, PA