Laying the Foundation for Innovation

Philadelphia’s University City neighborhood is considered the academic epicenter of the region, earning its namesake housing two of the largest and most influential institutions in Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.

Wexford Science & Technology, LLC, a real estate company exclusively focused on partnering with universities, academic medical centers and research institutions to develop vibrant knowledge communities, has been developing in University City for over 15 years and is the company’s most ambitious development to date. Aptly called, uCity Square, the over 4.0 million-square-foot mixed-use community consists of laboratory, office, clinical, retail, and residential spaces concentrated around an open-air public square. uCity Square is the center of connectivity for professionals, entrepreneurs, students, residents and the surrounding community.

Pennoni supported Wexford by providing a variety of services including geotechnical and environmental engineering, surveying, and inspection & testing services for the heart of the development, located at 36th and Filbert Streets.

The current phase of construction includes four new buildings, including Powel Elementary Science and Leadership Academy (PSLAM) (2-story building), and 3700 Lancaster Avenue (6-story building) that were completed in the last year and this year, respectively. In addition, Pennoni provided services for the Drexel University Health Sciences Building (DUHSB) (12-story building) and One uCity (13-story building) that are currently in construction. Pennoni is also supporting Wexford on future developments such as 3800 Market Street and Two and Three uCity.

Pennoni’s geotechnical team was provide recommendations on the foundations that should be used to support each of the buildings, and it was no easy task. For this unique set of projects, the team was able to provide services for eight structures concurrently and observe the complexity of the conditions over a short distance. Extensive field explorations consisting of borings, test pits, a pump test, and rigorous laboratory programs were performed for each site. Our experts overcame a variety of challenges, including variability of the bedrock, specifically the Mica Schist and Gneiss of the Wissahickon Formation, concern with groundwater levels, and issues that arose during monitoring of foundation installations. Thanks to the efforts of our geotechnical team, the project was recognized and earned the Delaware Valley Geotechnical Institute’s 2022 Geotechnical Project of the Year!

Today, DUHSB and One uCity are making serious headway in their construction phases. Construction of the entire uCity Square mixed-use community is expected to be completed in 2030, totaling nearly 8 million square feet.

For more information on the uCity project, contact Dan Marano.


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