Located at the heart of our region’s thriving community of universities and research hospitals, uCity Square is more than a real estate development. It’s where Philadelphia’s spirit of innovation has thrived for more than 50 years at the Science Center.

UCITY SQUARE EXPANSION

The Science Center entered a new era in September 2015 when along with our development partner, Wexford Science + Technology, we introduced uCity Square.

Encompassing the Science Center’s legacy campus along Market Street and 4 million square feet of additional development, uCity Square will be a true mixed-use community comprised of offices and lab space for companies of all sizes, while adding more residents and neighbors to the area with shopping, dining, housing and jobs.

It will also be a linchpin that connects the neighborhoods to our north and west with the rest of University City, as we seek to open pathways to access and inclusion.

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Then- Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter addresses the crowd at the launch of the uCity Square brand in September 2016.
Passersby walk past the future site of 3675 Market Street which will be home to the Science Center’s corporate offices and an expanded Quorum.
A vibrant streetscape that includes restaurants and residential is one of the attractions of uCity Square.
Point.io CEO Ron Rock delivers keynote remarks at the seventh annual RAIN Conference in July 2015.
The Science Center’s FirstHand Lab at uCity Square introduces students to STEM subjects.
Guests pass under an art installation by Leo Villareal at 3601 Market Street as they leave Nucleus 2015, the Science Center’s annual fundraising event.

This dynamic environment will support innovation and collaboration between the private sector and top-tier research institutions. It will also create a runway for even more startups and growing companies as they scale. uCity Square is the location of choice for companies from idea to IPO – and beyond.

First up in the 10-year project is 3675 Market – the new home for the Science Center’s corporate offices and an expanded Quorum.

In the meantime, below are some of the places in uCity Square where our network of scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators gather.

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3601 Market Street

Over the last several years, the Science Center has taken a page from successful innovation hubs in San Francisco and Cambridge to transform our community to a dynamic environment beyond traditional working hours. Street-level retail and restaurants were the first step to attract foot traffic.

But to have a truly vibrant neighborhood, you need residents. In the summer of 2015, the first residential building in the Science Center’s 53-year history opened its doors at 3601 Market Street. The building features an outdoor pool, fitness center with yoga and spin classes, a game room – and, naturally, ground-floor retail and restaurants.

The building’s marquee canopy signals that 3601 Market is someplace special. With 3,600 white LEDs programmed in an ever-changing sequence, Leo Villareal’s Light Matrix fuses light, art and technology in a way that is uniquely appropriate for its context within uCity Square. The installation, funded by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art Program, brings art to the street level and engages the public.

Not only was the 28-story residential building the first of its kind for the Science Center and uCity Square, it was also the largest residential construction project in Philadelphia in 2015, with 363 units.

3601 Market Street was developer Southern Land Company’s first foray into the Philadelphia market – and it won’t be their last at uCity Square. The developer is expected to break ground on the second residential project at uCity Square in late 2016.

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ESTHER KLEIN GALLERY

The Esther Klein Gallery truly reflects the art of science. A Matter of Softness, a bio-art exhibit, drove that point home in the summer of 2015. EKG pulsed with life as Colombian-born, Japan-based artist and researcher Juan M. Castro transformed synthetic cell membranes into a dazzling visual display.

The first piece in A Matter of Softness, entitled “Fat Between 2 Worlds,” was an installation created in collaboration with research laboratories in Japan and France over a three-year period and reflects Castro’s interest in lipids. It presented a collection of artificial membranes with highly interconnected networks, filamentous morphologies and bio-geometrical groupings. “He basically presented the outer covering of a cell and magnified it for the audience,” says curator Angela McQuillan. “People could look at fluorescent cell membranes live under a microscope and see beautiful, glowing organisms.”

Other EKG exhibits over the last year include Methods of Collection, a group exhibit that merged art with zoological specimens; Scintillare, a solo exhibition by Philadelphia-based sculptor Marguerita Hagan focusing on life in the ocean; and MathThematic, a group exhibit combining geometry, fractals, patterns and other mathematical principles with visual art.

EKG’s innovative approaches are attracting attention in the art world. SciArt in America magazine spotlighted the gallery’s 40 years of science-infused art exhibits in October 2015. “The science art community is a small but rapidly expanding group, and it was amazing for us to be featured,” McQuillan explains.

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INNOVATORS WALK OF FAME

“Business is beautiful,” Judy Wicks says, “when it’s a vehicle for serving the common good.” Wicks was inducted into the Science Center’s Innovators Walk of Fame at our Nucleus 2015: Celebrating Women Innovators event in October 2015. Wicks, who was recognized for Social Impact, is a member of a stellar group of women innovators:

  • Rebecca J. Cole (Medicine) the second African-American woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S. Sponsored by Drexel University
  • Stephanie Kwolek (Science), who invented the technology behind Kevlar, a virtually bulletproof fiber that has saved the lives of countless first responders and military personnel.
  • The Women of ENIAC (Technology), six brilliant young female mathematicians, who programmed the first all-electronic, programmable, general-purpose computer, before programming language existed. Sponsored by University of Pennsylvania
  • Judith Rodin (Community Engagement), Rockefeller Foundation president, who as Penn president spearheaded a model for groundbreaking programs to engage the campus with the surrounding community that is replicated by other universities around the world. Sponsored by University of Pennsylvania

“Because of this group of extraordinary women, the world is surely a better place,” Science Center President & CEO Steve Tang said during the ceremony.

Launched in 2013, the Innovators Walk of Fame shines a light on the diverse tradition of discovery and innovation in the Greater Philadelphia region and the groundbreaking contributions that have revolutionized the local, regional and global landscape. The Innovators Walk of Fame opened at Innovation Plaza in December 2015 and was dedicated in May 2016.

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INNOVATION PLAZA

On a warm spring day, you’ll find yourself in good company at the Science Center’s new pocket park. With ample seating, landscaped plantings, chess, checkers and backgammon, Innovation Plaza is a popular place for people to relax, socialize, work and play.

“Innovation Plaza is helping us invent the future of the Science Center and our home at uCity Square," Science Center President & CEO Steve Tang noted at the dedication ceremony in May 2016. "Innovation Plaza is an important step in our efforts to craft inviting and engaging spaces that connect uCity Square to the surrounding neighborhoods.”

The design principle behind Innovation Plaza is the Golden Section, the underlying proportion found in the design of all nature and life that has inspired architects and designers for millennia. Scientists, mathematicians, engineers and artists all use the Golden Section as a foundational design structure. This proportion is infinitely scalable and is reflected in the red portals that lead visitors through the Plaza.

The Science Center collaborated with the International House Philadelphia, National Board of Medical Examiners, PECO Energy, University Lutheran Church and the 3624 Science Center Condominium to bring Innovation Plaza to life.

The design and construction of Innovation Plaza was financed in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Financing Authority. Innovation Plaza is also made possible through the support of our many donors and sponsors.

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MICROSOFT REACTOR

Microsoft is putting down roots in uCity Square! A new Microsoft Reactor will open in summer 2016. The Reactor, the result of a collaboration between Microsoft Corp., SeventySix Capital, the Science Center and Wexford Science & Technology, will be the first in the region and the second in the U.S.

Located on the ground floor of 3711 Market Street, the Reactor will be equipped with the latest Microsoft technology. Or as Science Center CEO Steve Tang puts it: “Quorum – with toys.”

The Science Center will collaborate with Microsoft and SeventySix Capital to develop and deliver technology- and innovation-focused programming that will create new opportunities for the tech startup community. The Reactor will also host activities that will bring underrepresented groups to greater awareness of and involvement with STEM activities and careers.

The Reactor will serve as a hotbed of activity during the Democratic National Convention. After the DNC, the Reactor will provide a technological and collaborative space that supports our communities, entrepreneurs, startups, and students accelerating the creation of new technologies, solutions, companies, jobs, and growth locally.

“We are thrilled to bring technology and resources to the great city of Philadelphia,” said Microsoft’s Director of Modern Government Jeff Friedman. “Reactors are part of Microsoft’s broader strategy to empower developers and entrepreneurs, extending into local metro markets to help startups grow their business with technology and services such as cloud computing, developer tools, software and open source technologies.”

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Boosting Science Center Impact