Future USciences building to beautify neighborhood with green roof

The new University of the Sciences building
The new addition to the University of the Sciences' Science and Technology Center

When the neighbors who reside in the West Shore community in University City look up at the roof of the University of the Sciences‘ newest building, they won’t see big box air conditioners and generators. Instead, they’ll be looking at a green roof sprouting sedum: hardy green plants and flowers that will grace the entire roof.

Joe Trainor, senior vice president for finance at USciences, said the West Shore section of University City near the campus would only see one floor of the three-story building and the beautiful roof. “Because it’s about two stories below them, they’ll only see it as a one-story building,” he said.

The building, a 55,000-square-foot addition to the Science and Technology Center at 4306 Woodland Ave., will house the new Physician Assistant program. In late August, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Facilities Authority (PHEFA) sold $31 million in revenue bonds for the University of the Sciences.

The building itself will cost $29 million, a figure that includes expansion of the central utility plant that will provide heating and cooling to the building. If that wasn’t done, said Trainor, the equipment to keep the building operating would go on the roof. The remaining $2 million will be used for deferred maintenance projects.

Aerial view of site
Aerial view of site, with new addition and green roof outlined in red

“The community gets a better rooftop,” he said. “We get a green roof to support our commitment to the environment and we get a large surface area for storm water. When you have a green roof, the rain water gets collected by the sedum and drains more slowly. So we are filtering the water and we are holding it back in the event of heavy rains so the storm drains aren’t overwhelmed.”

The university has been working closely with the West Shore Community Association and officials have been meeting with neighborhood groups to discuss the project. He is also working with Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell’s office to make sure she knows the university’s plans and also so it can make any adjustments that are needed. Trainor noted that the University of the Sciences has a strong interest in being partners with the community.

“The community had some questions, and we addressed them,” Trainor said. “We’re currently working with the Councilwoman’s office to see what steps will be taken next so we can be good neighbors.”

A little after Thanksgiving the University will break ground on the building. It should be completed by the spring of 2014.

-By Matt Stringer for PhiladelphiaRealEstate.com