The Drexel Master Plan 2012-2017 was presented to its board of trustees last February. It applies the school’s Strategic Plan vision into a larger four principled master plan, with a scope for action: distinguish Drexel’s campus as a vibrant urban university district, bring the campus to the street, draw the community together around shared spaces, and expand its innovation community.

Plan in action

Some of those action plans include renovating the John A. Daskalakis Athletic Center at 33rd & Market, and the Peck Problem-Solving and Research Building at 33rd & Arch, as well as relocating and expanding the College of Engineering’s Hess Laboratories.

Current shot of uninspired Hess Labs

On May 30, the school issued an RFP to selected developers who expressed interest in proposing a mixed-use student housing and retail development at the current Hess site located at 34th and Lancaster Avenues. The purposes of the project are to supply the beds necessary to support the sophomore housing requirement, expand dining options for students, and invigorate retail at the base of the Lancaster Avenue corridor while conforming to the Master Plan principle of the comfortable five-minute walk. The project, which will be tall but in proportion to other 34th Street residence halls, according to the plan, could include space for as many as 1200 new beds, the majority of which will amass along 34th Street. The character of the project is aimed to further a Main Street feel along Lancaster Ave.

Preliminary rendering of the planned development

While a Drexel representative said it is too early to comment on the status of that RFP, this project is an indication that the progress of development around the University City campuses is slated to continue like these large-scale projects were but single homes being built along one block. A quick scan of our University City stories demonstrates building from hotels, to homes to nanotechnology research centers. While Center City is run on finance and marketing, out west it seems sustainability, healthcare and academia are the main forces driving the University City economy.

–Lou Mancinelli