Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Philadelphia-Area Schools II: Drexel University

Drexel University may not be as well-known nationally as its next-door neighbor, the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania (profiled here). However, Drexel has been growing vibrantly in its physical plant, enrollment, and endowment. The school has really strengthened itself in the area of professional education and features a co-op/internship program that blends college education with work experience. And like Penn, Drexel enjoys a spectacular view of Center City (downtown) Philadelphia, to the east.

Once on the campus, it almost looks like a venue for Harry Potter and his Hogwarts buddies, with Drexel's ubiquitous mascot, the Dragon...

Like virtually all campuses, Drexel features a mix of old and new buildings. A prominent, though not necessarily attractive, structure is University Crossings, a housing facility...

On the newer side, a building seemingly nearing completion is the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building. In addition to its interesting exterior, the PISB will feature a "Bio Wall," which is said to enhance energy efficiency and air quality (see here and here).

Another building in the finishing stages with a funky design is the LeBow College of Business...

Finally, we have Drexel's Earle Mack School of Law, on busy Market Street...

The Law School, which was established in 2006, will soon implement an option for students to obtain their law degree in two years, along with the traditional three-year law curriculum. The explanation of the two-year option on the Drexel Law webpage fits with the university's aforementioned work/career orientation: "You can begin practicing law sooner. And you’ll be a step ahead on your career path."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Philadelphia-Area Schools I: University of Pennsylvania ("Penn")

Situated to the west of downtown Philadelphia just across the Schuylkill River, the University of Pennsylvania blends old-style architecture and verdant fields on its Ivy League campus. Also, as discussed further down, Penn is home to two of the most storied athletic facilities in the U.S.

Entering Penn from its northeast corner (33rd and Chestnut streets) after crossing the street from neighboring Drexel University, as I did, one encounters a walkway in the area of Hill Square and Hill College House. Here's a Penn map to help orient oneself to the campus.

If one were to walk along the grass to the right (west) of the walkway, one would find Silverman Hall, home of Penn Law School.

Walking south on 34th St. from in front of the Law School brings us to Irvine Auditorium, a performing-arts facility with a spire-type architectural style, at the corner of 34th and Spruce.

Spruce St. forms the northern border of Penn's medical/hospital complex, a mark of distinction for the university as Penn created the nation's first medical school. The following montage highlights Penn Medicine.

The "classical" looking building in the lower right of the montage is the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), located right on Spruce. Further south are the Smilow Research Center and Penn Tower (the latter combining medical offices and hotel rooms for families of patients at the nearby hospitals). The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, which forms the unfortunate acronym CHOP, is also in the area.

Near the medical facilities, along Penn's eastern edge, are the two athletic facilities I alluded to. Shown first is Franklin Field, home to the Penn Quakers football team and also to one of the world's premier track meets, the Penn Relays, held every spring. A statue of Benjamin Franklin stands outside Franklin Field (I used different brightnesses on the statue of Franklin and on the podium, in order to make each stand out as sharply as possible).

Next door is the Palestra, home to Penn basketball and other indoor sports (on the day I visited, the floor was configured for volleyball). What makes the Palestra famous is that it not only hosts Penn basketball games, but also used to host contests between any two "Big 5" Philadelphia college rivals -- Penn, LaSalle, St. Joseph's, Temple, Villanova -- who happened to play each other (see this Big 5 historical website). In more recent years, however, whenever two of the schools other than Penn have played each other, the games have usually been played on one of the schools' campuses. This upcoming season, for example, LaSalle will be playing Villanova at Villanova's campus and St. Joe's will play Temple on Temple's campus. The Palestra also has a tradition of fans throwing streamers on the court after their team scores its first basket.

Finally, heading back toward the north end of campus, there are at least two more locations of note. One is Locust Walk (named after the street, and perhaps locust trees, but presumably not locust insects). Locust Walk is a major pathway on campus, leading to its western edge.

The other is the Penn Bookstore, a huge multi-story facility. To the left in the montage below is the bookstore along Walnut St, and to the right is the cylindrical foyer at the corner of Walnut and 36th.