University City Science Center
Through years of development, the Science Center is leveraging its history as the nation’s oldest and largest urban research park as it joins forces with Wexford Science + Technology, a BioMed Realty company, to expand its footprint and rebrand its physical campus as uCity Square, a mixed-use community of ingenuity where bright minds will flourish and thrive.
uCity Square is a 6.5 million-square-foot mixed-use development comprised of the 17 buildings on the Science Center’s legacy campus and up to an additional 4 million square feet of office, lab, residential and retail in Philadelphia’s vibrant University City neighborhood.
Creating a Catalyst
Leadership at the Science Center retained Ex;it to design a wayfinding program for the Science Center to assist visitors with campus navigation. A study performed by Ex;it identified an alternative opportunity: to create a campus center that connects audiences in the University City District with a 24/7 landmark experience.
This 37th Street walkway, named Innovation Plaza, attracts and connects the area’s many stakeholders to a place of leisure, learning and activity within an urban setting.
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan Kay
INTO THE FUTURE
As a catalyst for innovation, the Science Center inspires possibilities and challenges the communities of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) to forge new relationships and design our future. As a voice for the future through incubation and entrepreneurism, the campus reflects the creative culture of Philadelphia as a place where status quo is giving way to imagination.
CONVERGENCE AND CONNECTION
The Science Center is place of convergence and connection for thought leaders in STEAM. Exploration and collaboration is the “DNA” of the Science Center that builds strategic partnerships, connecting people and translating ideas into new methods, services and products.
As a central influence and contributor of the University City District, the Science Center is a place that belongs to the community. Strengthened by diversity, accessibility and inclusion, this vibrant center stimulates opportunities and connections between organizations and tenants in the Science Center and its neighbors.
The design principle behind the Innovation Plaza is the Golden Section, an underlying structure found in elements of nature that has been inspiring architects, scientists, mathematicians, engineers, artists and designers for millennia. This proportion is infinitely scalable and is reflected in the landscape design and sculptural elements of the Plaza.
Planning the Plaza
Innovation Plaza was designed as a place for people who work and live at and around the Science Center campus to relax, socialize, work and play. The Plaza is a vibrant space that reflects the community it serves, offering a place of interaction and connection, inspiring possibilities and supporting a creative culture. The variety of activities and environments within the Plaza inspire ideas and reflect the dynamic energy of the Science Center and its partners.
The red portals are symbolic elements that support the narratives of the Science Center as an invitation into the future: entering the Science Center as collaborators and going forth as innovators. Quiet during the daytime and illuminated at night, these elements draw people into and through the Plaza.
Overhead lighting creates a canopy for evening activities such as movies, events and a café experience.
A continuous pattern of the Golden Section is etched into the surfaces of the portals.
Signage designed within the Golden Section proportion facilitates wayfinding and recognizes donors and sponsors.
INNOVATORS WALK OF FAME
Innovation Plaza is highlighted by the recognition of STEAM champions. Stained concrete blocks with metal folded overlays recognize those who earn an annual prestigious award for Innovation. This installation provides seating and gathering spaces within the Plaza.
Ex;it is an experience design and strategy firm that designs the connection between people, information and environment. Ex;it helps complex organizations advance their missions through design, research and a deep understanding of how people experience the places where they work, learn, heal and discover.
Our work encompasses visitor experience assessment, brand revitalization, design strategy, information architecture, wayfinding, placemaking, environmental graphic design, exhibit design and donor recognition. The seamless blending of digital and physical experiences characterizes our placemaking work.
Sketches by Ex;it
Renderings and Landscaping Plans by Andropogon Associates, Ltd.
Photography Copyright CJ Dawson Photography, Ex;it, University City Science Center