Tear it down to build it up? | The Triangle

Tear it down to build it up?

A glance out the window of The Triangle editor in chief’s office reveals a crater where the Intercultural Center once stood. The corner of 33rd and Chestnut Streets has seen radical change in the last 10 years: first the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building replaced a parking lot, then Chestnut Square replaced a green buffer between MacAlister Hall and Chestnut Street, then the University of Pennsylvania started endless construction on the New College House, and now The Study will rise on the site of the Intercultural Center.

A ten-story hotel will do a lot to ease overcrowding at the nearby Sheraton, and we’ll achieve hotel parity with the University of Pennsylvania, whose own “Inn at Penn” serves the same niche The Study intends to fill.

At what cost does premier hotel space come, though? Demolition and relocation of cultural facilities that many students have come to depend on. Years of construction on an already construction-burdened block. With so many developable Drexel-owned surface parking lots available in the nearby area, the only question we can ask is “Why?”

Isn’t developing a parking lot cheaper than demolishing existing structures? Wouldn’t it cause less outcry? Wouldn’t it better serve the community? Isn’t parking more replaceable? C-lot, F-lot, K-lot, etc. are close to campus, and are existing blights on the community. No one will wax poetically about the loss of K-lot. Few even know it exists.

With the loss of the Intercultural Center, and the demolition of irreplaceable lab space at the Frederick O. Hess Laboratories, Drexel is continuing down a destructive and ultimately illogical development path. Nothing was stopping Lancaster Hall from going up half a block away on K-lot. Likewise, nothing was stopping The Study from rising on the site of C-lot.

We understand that parking is important and necessary to Drexel’s faculty and students. After all, the only nearby transit is regional rail at 30th Street Station, the El at 34th Street Station, five trolley routes at 33rd Street Station, and a dozen or so bus routes, and it’s unreasonable to expect students to walk all the way from Powelton Village.

But should parking really take precedence over academic spaces? We could still have the Intercultural Center, the Frederick O. Hess Labs, and even Matheson Hall if we were just willing to sacrifice parking for a couple hundred cars.