Chestnut Square (Drexel University) / American Campus Communities
Chestnut Square (Drexel University) / American Campus Communities

Project Stats

Location: Philadelphia
Developer: American Campus Communities 
Architect: Robert A.M. Stern Architects 
Builder: Hunter Roberts Construction Group 
Opened: September 2013
Number of units: 220
Unit mix: Double-occupancy two- or three-bedrooms; and two-, three-, and four-bedrooms 
Rents: $909 to $1,129 per student

The student body of Drexel University in Philadelphia is making a transformation, and with it, so is the face of the campus.

American Campus Communities (ACC) partnered with Drexel to not only provide more on-campus beds to the rapidly growing university, but to do so in a way that created a gateway to a revitalized campus style.

Drexel sought to accomplish numerous goals with a single project: provide more on-campus student housing, revamp the school's outdated design, introduce a retail space for both students and Philadelphia residents, and redefine the campus edge adjacent to the University of Pennsylvania. The versatile Chestnut Square apartments blend vibrancy and functionality for both a city and a university—all within a space of just 51 square feet.

The apartment complex, which is completely integrated into the core campus of Drexel, serves as a point of transition for the new face of the university's design. Moving away from the outdated, mid–20th century, orange-brick buildings on campus, Chestnut Square is clad in precast concrete to catapult the shift to a modern stone-and-glass campus.

The two low-rise wings of the complex, which frame a campus courtyard and a glass rotunda, are sheathed in light metallic siding and glass.

With a growing enrollment, Drexel was faced with having too-few on-campus bedrooms and apartment options for students. Chestnut Square comprises two eight-story buildings and a 19-story high-rise tower with 861 on-campus beds and includes 24,800 square feet of retail space.

But with only 51 square feet to work with, the developers had to incorporate all the beds in a dense space surrounded by the existing campus dining hall, student center, and theater. ACC added 1,225-square-foot townhome units with middle-level entrances to complement the narrow development, instead of offering the typical double-loaded corridor design.

The building is woven into the fabric of the existing neighborhood, and the retail spaces are filled with locally and regionally owned businesses.

The units come furnished and are designed with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and hardwood-style flooring. Even in shared rooms, students are ensured space and privacy with walls between beds, individual compartments for bath and toilet areas, and dual-vanity sinks.

State-of-the-art amenities include a fitness center, full-size golf simulator, arcade room, theater room, and computer center.