Merit - SCUP Excellence in Landscape Architecture for Open Space Planning

Drexel University

Campus Core (Korman Quadrangle and Perelman Plaza)
Drexel University - Campus Core (Korman Quadrangle and Perelman Plaza)
Jury Comments
“. . . creates a campus green where none existed . . . so many good things packed into a small place: lively student quad, community park, stormwater management, well-lit space for comfortable nighttime use . . . beautiful work . . .”


    • Site – 4 acres
    • The project created a new green heart of campus and a new identity for the academic core.
    • This learning landscape contains outdoor classroom spaces that satisfy the needs of professors, while Wi-Fi and phone charging stations allow students to use technology comfortably within the landscape.
    • A sophisticated lighting scheme assures that the space is used both day and night.
    • The urban, open space supports more than 144 native trees, 40,000 native shrubs and ground covers, and 0.92 acres of lawn.
    • The project reduces impervious cover by 72% and manages the first 1–inch of runoff from nearly all impervious surfaces.


The center of Drexel University’s campus was mostly paved, the by-product of years of creating new buildings without much emphasis on the spaces between them. The challenge was to create a place where students wanted to be while accommodating a high volume of pedestrian traffic. The solution reintroduced the historic Woodland Walk (a former street, notable for its diagonal emphasis within a largely orthogonal Philadelphia grid) while creating a large green space.

Perelman Plaza and Korman Quadrangle transformed disjointed, vehicular-oriented spaces into one of the campus’s greatest assets that unites the surrounding buildings and provides a much-needed campus identity. Rather than focusing the campus inward, Drexel’s new campus identity welcomes the school’s 26,000 students and the surrounding community to enter and linger in an amenity space that connects people with each other and with the natural and academic environment.

Using native plants, a distinctive hardscape palette, and multi-use seating, the 4-acre open space activates a critical circulation corridor for students, staff, and the greater community. Gathering spaces of varied scales support daily social interaction while flexibly accommodating large-scale events. The open space system is additionally designed to manage stormwater and provide critical, biophilic benefits to users.

Perelman Plaza and Korman Quadrangle comprise a major first step in fulfilling the mission of Drexel’s Campus Master Plan and Strategic Vision, to “transform the modern university.” The projects also celebrate Drexel’s key role in providing a physical gateway from Center City Philadelphia into West Philadelphia.

Project Team

Andropogon; also Meliora Design; Tillett Lighting Design Associates, Inc.; Mulhern Engineering; Irrigation Consulting, Inc.; Keast & Hood; Craul Land Scientists; Becker & Frondorf; exit Design