The formal dedication of the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, Sept. 20 officially marked the opening of Drexel’s newest building, which coincided with the start of fall term classes.
As previously reported in The Triangle, the Integrated Sciences Building located at 33rd and Chestnut streets has seven classrooms and one lecture hall, as well as 11 laboratories, all ready for fall term classes. With a substantial amount of classroom space lost due to the demolition of Matheson Hall, the opening of this newest Drexel building comes at a very opportune time.
“It’s a really great facility in terms of structure and environment, and the classrooms are laid out really well — much better than some of the older buildings,” Rob Oberholzer, a pre-junior biology major, said. Oberholzer’s microbiology for health professionals class is in the ISB.
Named after the late Constantine Papadakis, Drexel University president from 1995 until his death in 2009, the structure holds 39 research and teaching laboratories, and the first floor of the facility holds lecture halls and a 230-seat auditorium. Development began roughly five years ago in the fall of 2006.[A1]
Another defining part of the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building is also located in the atrium. The five-story biowall, the only one of its kind at an American university, reaches over 1,570 square feet and holds over 20 different types of plants that make up the 1,100 individual plants located on the wall.
“I love the structure of the building and the biowall adds a great feel to the place. It’s in line with the rapid growth and progress taking place at Drexel currently,” Neha Ramani, a sophomore biomedical engineering major, said. Her human physiology class is located at the Integrated Sciences Building.
The opening of the newest Drexel facility follows the May announcement of the University’s partnership with the Academy of Natural Sciences, the oldest natural history museum in the country. The ISB promotes science research with over 150,000 square feet of space devoted to laboratories, classrooms, and collaborative space for professors and students with concentrations in biology, chemistry and biomedical engineering. The union of the two Philadelphia institutions was discussed at the Sept. 20 opening attended by Drexel faculty and professional staff.
Several notable University members spoke at the opening, including President John A. Fry, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Donna Murasko and Maria R. Papadakis, the former University President’s daughter. Political leaders including Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, chairman of the board of trustees Richard A. Greenawalt and John H. Estey also spoke. Estey was the chief of staff for former PennsylvaniaGov. Edward G. Rendell. He spoke on the governor’s behalf.
Biological sciences major Sarah Michelson also spoke at the ISB opening, praising the building’s construction for its ability to provide students and faculty with ample space for conducting classes and doing research.
“It’s certainly a welcomed upgrade from Stratton Hall,” she said. .
Councilwoman Blackwell read a resolution from the City of Philadelphia that listed all of Papadakis’ accomplishments and announced that the area of Chestnut Street from 31st Street to 33rd Street will be renamed “Papadakis Place.”
At the end of the ceremony, a portrait of Papadakis was also unveiled and can be seen in its current position, to the right of the biowall in the atrium.
According to Murasko, the entering class of biology majors in 2000, five years after Papadakis first joined Drexel as president, was 50 students. But just 10 years later, the number of biology majors rose to 265 incoming students. Murasko noted that the ISB enables Drexel to adequately handle the increasing numbers of students in the science disciplines.
The Integrated Sciences Building is expected to be the first LEED-certified building of Drexel and to receive a 4 Green Globes rating from the Green Building Initiative.
“As an environmental studies major, it makes me happy to see that Drexel is making its building more environmentally friendly,” sophomore Lauren Donaghy said. She has a general ecology class and an environmental science and society class in the Integrated Sciences Building.
Under Papadakis’ tutelage, the total enrollment at Drexel increased by more than 130 percent, with the full-time undergraduate enrollment growing by 144 percent. Almost simultaneously, freshman applications increased by nearly 700 percent, and the median SAT score of accepted students increased to 1202 by 2009. To accommodate the growing school, the number of faculty members doubled under Papadakis’ reign, making Drexel the ninth-largest employer in Greater Philadelphia.
Papadakis also pushed for the opening of the Drexel University College of Medicine and the Earle Mack School of Law, which received full accreditation from the American Bar Association in August. The creation of the Drexel law school solidified Drexel’s ranking as the first American top-ranked doctoral university to open a law school in more than 25 years.
And in a move that foreshadowed Papadakis’ insight and skill in enhancing Drexel with new technology, Papadakis helped Drexel become the first major university with a wireless campus in 2000, and two years later the University was the first of its kind to offer a Web portal to school information for wireless devices.