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Drexel University URBN Center

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    • involving the reuse of a Venturi, Scott Brown-designed office building, the design dramatically recasts the interior to accommodate arts teaching
    • Overview

      The adaptive reuse of two existing buildings, including an iconic landmark designed by Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, is now home to the College of Media Arts and Design.

      “Behind that placid Market Street facade is one of Philadelphia’s most thrilling new designs. MSR’s designers . . . didn’t merely rearrange the partitions. They exploded them, turning the institute’s plain vanilla, open-plan floors into a mind-blowing, Escher-inspired puzzle space. . . . The contrast between the calm exterior and the dizzyingly intricate interior could not be more extreme. . . . It’s a laboratory for design. . . . It’s the kind of place that makes you wonder if it’s too late to enroll in art school. . . . [MSR] specializes in grafting the new onto the old, repurposing buildings without obliterating signs of their previous use.”—Inga Saffron, The Philadelphia Inquirer


    • the iconic decoration of the primary Market Street facade and entry is preserved and celebrated
    • multistory glazing selectively pierces the auxiliary brick facades to reveal the structure behind
    • an adjacent 13,000 SF daycare center has been completely transformed into an annex for public functions including a gallery, black box theater, and screening room
    • the renovation included saving important pieces of the past, like the colorful mural at the entry, layered with new interventions
    • the open lobby space has moveable display walls and can host everything from pop-up shops for teaching merchandising to exhibitions of student work
    • a new interior street visually and physically connects the various levels and departments and brings daylight into the center of the building
    • the interior street also offers spaces for social interaction and collaboration and connects students to shared services, such as the making lab
    • classrooms and studios are visually open and transparent, to encourage opportunities for sharing ideas and cross-collaboration between disciplines
    • studio spaces provide flexible, open spaces with good lighting for design and making
    • in addition to traditional classrooms and studios, state-of-the-art teaching spaces and labs accommodate programs such as game design and motion graphics
    • flexible display and critique spaces are found throughout the building, for students to show off their work and gather input
    • the circulation path on the third floor doubles as a runway for fashion design students to present their work
    • located across the street in a former daycare center, the annex offers opportunities to showcase finished work in spaces such as an exhibition gallery
    • the annex also includes a black box theater and screening room, centered around a social/event space that is shared with the gallery
    • staff offices are prominently-located within each department, to encourage students to interact with faculty
    • with reconfigurable systems furnishings, staff can arrange their offices to suit their personal preference and style of working
    • Specifications

      Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

      Type: Adaptive reuse

      Size: 145,917 square feet

      Sustainability: Green Globes Guidelines

    • Awards

      AIA Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) Design Excellence Award.

      AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Honor Award.

      AIA Minnesota Honor Award.

      Contract Interiors Award for Adaptive Reuse.

    • Project Contact

      Garth Rockcastle

      • Architect / Principal
      • garth@msrdesign.com
      • 301 799 3302
      • View Bio

      Jeffrey Scherer

      • Architect / Principal
      • jeffrey@msrdesign.com
      • 612 359 3223
      • View Bio

      Traci Engel Lesneski

      • Interior Designer / Principal
      • traci@msrdesign.com
      • 612 991 7764
      • View Bio