Future Sites: Drexel Smart House – Updated March 26, 2014

Updated: March 26, 2014. Take a look at the Drexel Smart House today, a year after the previous photos were taken:


Photo credit: Emily Mitnick

Updated: March 28, 2013. The Smart House’s facade is shaping up beautifully. New windows have been installed throughout the house, and bright white woodwork emphasizes the prominence of the bay windows.

IMG_6305 IMG_6308


Updated: July 16, 2012.  Work is in progress:

The Smart House is on the road to recovery.

Updated: September 1, 2011.  Heavy rains over a number of months, culminating with accumulations from Hurricane Irene, have caused significant buckling of the masonry on the west wall of the structure intended to house the Smart House:

Original Post: April 20, 2011.  The Master Plan for Drexel University from 2012 to the Sesquicentennial in 2041, Drexel@150, will focus on sites within the existing real estate portfolio to further four goals: optimize the use of real estate resources, create a unique identity for the campus, connect Drexel to the communities around the campus, and achieve these goals sustainably. A series of posts will introduce those sites and describe some of their properties.

The Smart House is a large residence at 3520 Race Street in Powelton Village.  The Smart House is more than a house: it is a comprehensive experiential learning, research, and technology transfer program founded and led by Drexel students with support from faculty and administration.  Smart House is a recognized student organization with plans for implementing a living/learning environment on Race Street.

3520 Race Street, Philadelphia

The house is currently vacant and in need of extensive renovation.  Plans call for constructing an addition, which will function as a learning laboratory.  The residence will be renovated, providing housing managed as part of the University’s residential housing system, but reserved for participants in the Smart House program.  Learn more about the Smart House by visiting their web site at http://www.drexelsmarthouse.com/.


6 thoughts on “Future Sites: Drexel Smart House – Updated March 26, 2014”

  1. I look forward to seeing the competed renovation. In its current state, the house is an eyesore, a sort of deteriorating corpse of the beautiful Victorian that it once was. The designs will restore the character of the existing building and also add the fresh new addition that will feature most of the experimental components. Once completed, the house will bring new life to the street and will establish a new, positive connection between Drexel and the Powelton Village community. The hope is that the Smart House will educate the community about energy efficiency and resource conservation, and will provide cost effective solutions for sustainable home renovations.

    I think this location is perfect because it closely boarders the present edge of Drexel’s campus but lies on a residential block within Powelton, and it is more visible than people realize. The lot can be seen from the corner of 36th and Race Streets, 35th Street and Lancaster Avenue, and from the CEC. The property is also clearly visible from the top of Millenium Hall. Once the Smart House is up an running, it will instill pride in the University, the students and the neighbors alike. It may even draw new residents (versus renters) to the neighborhood.

  2. I have been part of a Drexel Smart House research team for the past year developing and testing a lightweight green roof system. Older building structures, which make up the majority of most cities, were not designed to hold the weight of a heavy conventional green roof. Our design enables existing buildings to accept a green roof system at a lower cost. The benefits to having a green roof include stormwater retention, mitigating urban heat island effect, carbon sequestration, energy savings, and much more. We would not have come up with this system without funding from an EPA grant acquired with the help and dedication from the Drexel Smart House student organization.

    There’s no doubt in my mind the house is going to be a momentous asset to Drexel University and Powelton Village, as well as it’s surrounding communities. The house will create a new hub in Philadelphia for researching sustainable and renewable technology and will train ambitious students in a living laboratory who will become the next generation of professionals. Outcomes will improve the urban lifestyle, and continually serve as an educational tool to the West Philadelphia community through demonstration. As a student I am truly passionate about this project and I can’t wait until the house is finished and we can continue contributing towards a better future for where we live.

  3. It has been very exciting for Andrew Cronin and I to teach the Drexel Smart House Course this semester. The mixture of architecture, engineering and construction management students has prompted conversations and collaborations that give the students an engaging real world learning experience.

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