Drexel 2013: A drastically different University | The Triangle

Drexel 2013: A drastically different University

This issue of The Triangle will be our last until the new year, and as such, The Editorial Board thought it would be appropriate to paint a picture of the university that Drexel students will attend in 2013.

The following changes won’t be immediate, but Drexel University will be virtually unrecognizable a year from now, both visually and with regard to the colleges and programs it will house. President John A. Fry — along with a talented team including University Facilities, Student Life and Administrative Services, developer American Campus Communities, various designers, and several colleges and schools within Drexel — has spent the last several months realizing components of the Master Plan.

The aesthetic components of these changes have been easily visible to students and faculty alike. The University community has witnessed two landmark buildings shoot up over the past 16 months (Matheson Hall was demolished in the fall of 2011 to make room for the new LeBow building, and the groundbreaking for Chestnut Square happened this past February). One of these buildings will be open for use in less than a year.

Uninterrupted construction on Drexel’s main campus is something students have dealt with for years — a residential building here, a dining facility there. But come fall 2013, Drexel will cut the ribbon on what is essentially both things combined.

Chestnut Square, the mammoth of a development that casts a shadow over MacAlister Hall and the Creese Student Center, promises to single-handedly steer the epicenter of campus to the 3200 block of Chestnut Street with its combination of student housing, restaurants and various vendors. Chestnut Square’s proximity to Woodland Walk, which Drexel shares with the University of Pennsylvania, promises to make it a bustling hotspot for University City and a new gateway to Drexel. Undergraduates seem to understand the appeal of the development’s various housing options (townhouses, suites and single-occupancy units), seeing as how the residential component of the Square is already booked up for the upcoming school year. Plus, we can’t wait for more dining options on campus.

The project spawned out of a need for more residential space for students, which has been an increasingly pressing problem for Drexel over the past few years, with three consecutive freshman classes that were too large to accommodate comfortably. 2013 will bring the University a steady freshman class, a welcome change. And with the recently penned rule that incoming classes must live in University-approved housing through their sophomore year, Chestnut Square will help to meet the demand of students.

Students in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design have been enjoying their first term in the newly renovated URBN Center, and in January they will have a space to display their work when The URBN Center Annex opens. Located directly behind the URBN Center, the Annex will offer a 3,500-square-foot Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, a black-box theater and a 125-seat screening room, which will give students of various majors a proper platform to present their creativity.

Meanwhile, the space freed by CoMAD’s exit from Nesbitt Hall will be put to good use in 2013, when the School of Public Health will move in.

Then there’s Geraldine C. LeBow Hall, a sleek and stunning edifice that will become the new home for the business school, offering many more amenities than either Matheson Hall or the Pearlstein Business Learning Center, LeBow’s current home, could ever accommodate. While the new building won’t officially open until the spring of 2014, much more progress will be made between then and now.

When you’re rolling back onto campus in January, not much will appear different. But rest assured that the powers that be are hard at work building a better University for the new year.