The Dana and David Dornsife Center for Community Partnership

Context

Situated in the heart of the Mantua and Powelton neighborhoods of West Philadelphia, the Dornsife Center resulted from a complete renovation of three nearly abandoned buildings into a new urban extension campus for Drexel University. Two buildings dated from the 1850’s and required significant review from historic agencies at local, state and federal levels as we worked to bring the building envelope and systems up to present day standards.

Community

The newly-created facilities provide an integrated center for community residents and Drexel faculty, students and professional staff to learn together. Spaces were designed to support services by all of the University’s 13 schools, including a wellness center, a law clinic, technology classrooms, design labs and community gathering spaces.

Return on Design

The project was challenged by an incredibly tight design schedule, driven in large part by the need to obtain both New Market and Historic tax credits.  The seven month design through documentation schedule was further complicated by the historic review process which typically moves at a slower pace and that resulted in a major re-design after the project was bid.  Despite these challenges, the Center opened on time to a very appreciative neighborhood and has 58 programs scheduled over the summer.

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