the ZERO, Drexel University Mixed-Use Development

Location: University City, Philadelphia, PA

Client:

Completion Date: 2011


In response to a Drexel University RFP, and as one of three shortlisted developers, OFA prepared it’s vision for the site at 33rd and Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. 

When one reviews the 2007 Campus Master Plan for Drexel University, it is clear that the site for this RFP on the South side of Chestnut Street, between 32nd and 33rd Streets currently holds an important yet fragile position in the overall vision for the future of Drexel’s campus. As the University’s southern-most site and its position relative to Penn’s campus, it becomes, by default, a crucial threshold for definition within Drexel’s campus and identity. The vehicular and more important pedestrian paths and linkages surrounding the site between 33rd and 32nd and Chestnut have the potential to establish themselves as critical and active “nodes” and gateways into the University. The “32nd Street Mall” currently under construction, along with the future Law School planned for the North side of Chestnut at 32nd suggests an opportunity for an important “Retail Node” on the Southwest corner of 32nd and Chestnut. Likewise, the corner of 33rd and Chestnut while currently inactive, is in fact a hub of pedestrian activity as it is the meeting point of Drexel’s Quadrangle to the Northeast and Penn’s Hill Square to the Southwest. This under-utilized corner will be a vibrant and relevant retail, residential and promotional gateway into Drexel’s campus. An important dimension of our proposal therefore involves designing the “bigger picture” potentials of this site, potentials that have this development contribute not only quality retail and housing to Drexel’s campus but also important gateways into the future envisioned in Drexel’s Master Plan.

Crucial to the success of ZERO is our commitment not to “green” building but rather to the highest levels of sustainability possible within our current thinking and technology. We intend this project to be Drexel’s first LEED Platinum structure, the City’s first Passive House™ certified complex and the country’s largest Net-Zero-Energy community. Aligned with the principles of the Drexel Green Initiative, this project will become a model of sustainable design and building practices and act as a laboratory for student, faculty and the local community’s education and engagement. Central to the sustainable goals of ZERO and the development team is the core principal belief that building sustainably does not mean building expensively.