University of the Sciences

Living & Learning Commons

University of the Sciences

Living & Learning Commons

46th Street & Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia



University of the Sciences


Design Collective


February 2019

Construction Type

Student Housing / New Construction



Number Of Units


The five- and six-story U-shaped building includes a structural steel frame, first floor podium with load bearing studs and precast plank for elevated floors 2 through 6. The skin of the building is made of metal panels, brick and glass with precast concrete elements. The building’s four-pipe fancoil system is connected to USciences’ chilled water and steamed piping loop. This system provides 24/7/365 heating and cooling that can be controlled remotely by the university or each resident.

The new state-of-the-art stormwater management system cascades runoff from the roof, trench and area drains to a bioretention area on the ground level. There are five, stepped bioretention ponds located in the courtyard. The planters filter the water and reduce the burden on the city’s sewer system. The full system drains in 24 hours. 

Construction started on the architectural retaining wall which created the barrier for the first three basins.  This was followed by the terrace, sidewalk and step walls to create the west side of the basin.  Once the structure of the basins was created, the installation of the bio basins could begin. Materials included amended storm water soil, geotextile fabric, #57 stone, perforated underdrain pipe and an outlet structure. Coupled with additional contracts installing decorative steel weir walls, trees, ground covers, plantings and of course, dramatic lighting. This finely orchestrated sequencing was repeated for all five bioretention ponds as each pond needed to be constructed independently in sequence from high to low, working our way out the only access point of the project.

Of particular note, all the walls for the courtyard and bioretention pond were formed using a combination of HDO plyform and fluted formliner. This, coupled with the white concrete that was utilized, produced a high-quality architectural finish.

Also noteworthy, while the courtyard and retention pond walls were being installed, over 4,000 square feet of charcoal tinted sidewalk and steps were placed to create the pedestrian friendly oasis that the architect had envisioned.

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University of the Sciences

Living & Learning Commons

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