Diamond + Schmitt & Drexel

Toronto design firm Diamond + Schmitt Architects has been selected by Drexel University to design a new academic building at the heart of Drexel’s West Philadelphia campus. Senior vice president James Tucker announced that the renowned firm, with over 100 national and international awards for planning and design, was chosen in a three-stage selection process culminating in a competition with Burt Hill/Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Construction is set to begin in the spring of 2008.

Located at the corner of 33rd and Chestnut streets, this new facility supports the department of bioscience, providing state of the art learning spaces for undergraduate students and 32 research labs for faculty and graduate research assistants. The building also houses the Steinbright Career Development Center, which serves students and alumni in cooperative education and career placement. In December 2006, Drexel unveiled a new master plan; this building by Diamond + Schmitt exemplifies the university’s goal of reinvigorating the urban campus. The design sets a high standard of sustainability and incorporates a living biofilter wall to achieve energy efficiency and an exemplary standard of indoor air quality.

“Drexel’s collaboration with a design firm of the stature of Diamond + Schmitt reflects the university’s commitment to develop and maintain a healthy, efficient and ecologically sound campus environment,” says Tucker. “The new building will further promote the university’s sustainability design efforts and support students, faculty and staff environmental initiatives.”

Donald Schmitt, principal design architect, leads a consortium that includes H2L2 Architects of Philadelphia. Schmitt is the principal-in-charge of the $440-million campus master plan and academic buildings at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology; he has considerable experience in academic and laboratory projects, including the Bahen Centre at the University of Toronto and, at the University of Michigan, both the new Computer Science and Engineering Building and the South Thayer Academic Building. “Our goal is to set a new standard of architectural and sustainable design excellence, engaging students and faculty in an interactive environment for learning and research,” says Schmitt.