Friday, April 4, 2014

University of Pennsylvania Plans New South Bank Campus

The University of Pennsylvania plans to construct a research park anchored by a new innovation center that will be built on the former DuPont Marchall Research Laboratories site, a large industrial property along the Schuylkill River that will house the planned South bank campus. 

The 23-acre industrial site located between 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue served as an automotive paint lab, manufacturing and testing facility for DuPont until 2009, when the factory was shut down.

The property, which includes 250,000 square feet of vacant laboratory, office and warehouse space, was acquired by Penn for $13 million.

Penn’s South Bank campus is the tip of the spear when it comes to recasting underused industrial property on the Lower Schuylkill as a zone for gritty creativity and economic growth.

The university has announced new plans to begin more deliberately transforming this 23-acre former DuPont campus into a buzzing hive of research and entrepreneurship, starting by establishing a new business incubator called the Pennovation Center.

Designed by architecture firm Wallace Roberts and Todd to support entrepreneurial and innovation growth in Philadelphia, the South Bank is an important component of Penn Connects 2.0—an ambitious long-term development strategy that has added almost 3 million square feet of space to Penn’s campus and increased the university’s open space on campus by 25 percent since 2006, when the university embarked on a two-decade expansion plan.

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A 200,000-square-foot incubator and accelerator dubbed the “Pennovation Center” will anchor the university’s campus and will serve as a hub for collaboration and creativity while encouraging the exchange of ideas for innovators from Penn’s departments.

According to a news release, Penn’s flexible project design allows for another 550,000 sq. ft. of new campus space that will be built in phases over the next twenty years.

The school’s long-term campus development strategy to add facilities while expanding the amount of open space it has. Penn has constructed four million square feet of new space on its West Philadelphia campus since 2006. At the same time, it has boosted the amount of open space by 25 percent.

South Bank aims to become a research park supporting entrepreneurs and advances in technology. The development would be multi-phased and will initially concentrate on adding new light industrial and flex-use buildings.  

At build out, up to 1.5 million square feet of new space will be constructed on South Bank.

Penn’s South Bank is very much in sync with Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation’s (PIDC) long-term revitalization plan of the entire Lower Schuylkill River into a 500-acre Innovation District, a Logistics Hub and an Energy Corridor while expanding riverfront green space.

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Penn will release a Request for Proposals this month for design services to help bring the Pennovation Center to life in a converted industrial building on the property.