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Living & Learning Commons

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To better meet the needs of its students, University of the Sciences has constructed a new, mixed-use residence hall at 46th Street and Woodland Avenue. The new residence hall, known as the Living & Learning Commons, sets the standard for dynamic living and learning communities for science and health professional students.

With state-of-the-art classroom, program, retail, living, and learning spaces, it provides an environment worthy of the University’s high-performing students. Beginning in Spring 2019 semester, students will live in the 426-bed residence hall which also incorporates numerous sustainable features to achieve Green Globe certification.

“What an exciting moment in the development of University of the Sciences,” said University president Paul Katz, MD. “The new residence hall speaks to the University’s continued commitment to its students in providing the finest facilities in which they can grow and learn.”


Amenities in the Living & Learning Commons:

  • Double occupancy rooms
  • Private bathrooms
  • Laundry amenities on each residence floor
  • Student lounge and study spaces on each floor
  • Multi-use classrooms
  • Two retail spaces
  • Residence Life offices and staff apartments
  • Open-air plaza

residence roomThe Living & Learning Commons sits on the site of the former Alexander Wilson Elementary School, which had been closed when USciences took ownership of the site from the School District of Philadelphia in July 2015. An open courtyard to Woodland Avenue provides opportunities for interaction and collaboration—key facets of an overall campus master plan to activate Woodland Avenue.

The University worked closely with local and nationally recognized partners to oversee the details for each phase of planning and development, while campus master-plan specialists Sasaki Associates played a large role in helping to conceptualize the activate Woodland Avenue strategy.

gameroomThe University actively engaged with its surrounding West Philadelphia community to ensure opportunities for feedback on this project. For example, community feedback showed a desire to retain the large mural created by the Mural Arts Program on the existing Alexander Wilson Elementary School; therefore current designs look to incorporate the mural on the new building. The University’s goal is to use this project as an opening to spearhead even greater collaboration between the campus and its neighboring communities.

Sustainability: Storm Water Management


The courtyard of the Living & Learning Commons is designed to showcase the site’s sustainability to the community and student body. Stormwater management is a high priority in this courtyard—runoff from the building’s roofs and from the courtyard’s hardscape will be directly routed to a series of bioretention planting areas. Given the site’s steepness, terracing the courtyard down to the streetscape level makes for a cascading of the stormwater. After a storm, students and the public will be able to sit and watch as the water cascades through the system. Treating the site’s stormwater on-site through bioretention planters will clean pollution from surface runoff, allow groundwater tables to recharge, reduce the burden on the city’s sewer system, and create habitat for pollinators.

  • Multi-Purpose Area

    Multi-Purpose Area

  • Vestibule


  • Game Room

    Game Room

  • U1 Building, Ground Floor

    U1 Building, Ground Floor

  • U1 Building, typical floor plan

    U1 Building, typical floor plan

  • Floors 5 and 6 of the Residence Hall building

    Floors 5 and 6 of the Residence Hall building

  • Buiding footprint of U1 Housing at Wilson School Site (Woodland Ave. & 46th St)

    Buiding footprint of U1 Housing at Wilson School Site (Woodland Ave. & 46th St)

In The News

Demolition of Wilson School building at 46th and Woodland underway
July 31, 2017, West Philly Local

Debt downgrade for University of the Sciences
March 24, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer

Mapping major University City projects in the works
November 17, 2016, Curbed Philly

Can Philly afford to maintain its huge, aging mural collection?
October 27, 2016, Philadelphia Inquirer

Community Said Goodbye To The Wilson School
October 5, 2016, UC Review

Community hosts send-off for neighborhood school
October 4, 2016, Philadelphia Metro

Campus Apartments Unveils 3 Projects
September 29, 2016, Multi-House News

A fond farewell to Alexander Wilson School
September 26, 2016, Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News

Campus Apartments to build new $50M project in University City
September 20, 2016, Philadelphia Business Journal

University of the Sciences Plans New Mixed-Use Dorm Building
August 4, 2016, Bisnow

Civic Design Review board weighs in on three proposals
August 3, 2016, Philly Voice

A University of the Sciences dorm and Woods Square were also given the green light
August 3, 2016, Curbed Philly

Woods Square and new buildings at Penn and USciences pass design review
August 2, 2016,

3 big University City, East Kensington mixed-uses head to design review
August 1, 2016, Curbed Philly

University of the Sciences plans new dorm on West Philly campus
July 22, 2016, Philadelphia Inquirer

Resolution passes to extend Spruce Hill zoning authority to include USciences building plans
April 14, 2016, West Philly Local

University of The Sciences Unveils First Phase of Its Master Plan: Reconstruction of The Former Wilson School Site to Residents
April 6, 2016, UC Review

Design Collective to Design New University of the Sciences Dorm
April 1, 2016, Curbed Philly

USciences unveils building plan for old Wilson School at 46th and Woodland
March 31, 2016, West Philly Local

What's going on with that school? Open forum on USciences Campus Master Plan this Wednesday
March 29, 2016, West Philly Local

Neighbors invited to USciences community meeting this Tuesday
November 30, 2015, West Philly Local

Community meeting at USciences this Thursday
August 18, 2015, West Philly Local

University of the Sciences to reach out to local community through quarterly meetings
December 15, 2014, West Philly Local

U. of Sciences buys Alexander Wilson School building for student housing
October 27, 2014, West Philly Local

USciences Approved to Acquire Alexander Wilson Elementary School Site
October 23, 2014, University of the Sciences

University of the Sciences Selects Sasaki as its Campus Master Plan Design Firm
July 15, 2014, University of the Sciences

Building Facts

Location: 4514-22 Woodland Avenue
Size: 126,000-square-feet, multi-story
Use: Mixed-use
Retail: Two locations
Units: 218 units (426 beds)

Key Benefits:

Open-air plaza
Two new retail spaces
Streetscaping and greening
Improved neighborhood lighting
Classrooms that can be accessed by the community

University Partners

Development Counsel: Duane Morris LLP
Design Collective
Clemens Construction Company, Inc.
Bohler Engineering
Whitestone Associates, Inc.
Pride Enterprises, Inc.


Media Relations
Jenna Pizzi

Community Relations
David L. Forde

Contractor Inquiries
Craig Washington