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Drexel Square is the Center of the New University City Business & Innovation District

On January 2, 2018

drexel squareThe area around 30th Street Station will soon be redeveloped into a large new business district called Schuylkill Yards and the focal point of Schuylkill Yards will be a new park at 30th and Market Streets.  The site is currently a parking lot next to the former Philadelphia Bulletin building, currently owned by Drexel University, and it is across the street from 30th Street Station.  The new park just broke ground recently.  It is being developed by Drexel University and Brandywine Realty Trust, just like Schuylkill Yards, and designed by SHoP Architects and West Tate Architects.  

Drexel Square is planned to be a 1.3-acre civic space that the designers want to be “iconic” and “timeless”.  It will have an elliptical path surrounding a lawn, a green buffer around the perimeter, and distinct redwood trees along the green buffer.  The green buffer will have a low wall to create a “permeable edge” and will have many entrances on all sides.  There will be brick pathways and seating steps.  The pathways are designed to provide appropriate circulation to public transit entrances at the SEPTA headhouse on Market Street, which will be replaced soon and will have a new underground concourse connection to 30th Street Station.  There will, also, be lighting and plenty of tables and chairs and benches with great views of the surrounding buildings and the Center City skyline.  An existing underground parking structure will be demolished and rebuilt during construction.  

drexel squareDrexel Square is intended to bring together the workers and residents of the surrounding area.  Developers of Schuylkill Yards want to include residential buildings, maybe a hotel, and retail as part of the mix, and they see Drexel Square as a central location for those many activities.  Some are even calling it Philadelphia’s “sixth square”, similar to the five square parks of Center City originally laid out in William Penn’s plan for the city.  The next phase for Schuylkill Yards is to renovate the Bulletin Building, including a new facade for the side of the building facing Drexel Square.  Next, the developers plan to build highrises at 3003 and 3015 John F. Kennedy Boulevard.  And, the grounds around 30th Street Station and along JFK Boulevard are about to see a major renovation, as well.  Later development for Schuylkill Yards would include more highrises on JFK Boulevard and Market Street, the tallest one would likely be on Market Street behind the Bulletin Building, where the Parking Authority warehouse is now.  Drexel University wants to create a new ”innovation district” as part of the development.  Schuylkill Yards would include millions of square feet of office space and is being considered as a prime site for the new Amazon headquarters.  Drexel Square would be the central square for this new business and innovation district.

By, Gabriel Gottlieb

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