ULI Philadelphia Blog

An Innovative Vision for Changing West Philadelphia’s Skyline

Urban Visionary Sponsor Spotlight: Brandywine Realty Trust


In 2002, Brandywine Realty Trust set out to build the first new office tower in Philadelphia in more than a decade. Located in University City, the site was across the Schuylkill River from Center City’s long-established business district, in a part of town that people often passed, but rarely visited unless they were part of The University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, or the world-class Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The area didn’t have a corporate presence or a real identity – outside of the universities or hospitals. For most developers, it was a gamble with bleak odds. Yet to Brandywine, it was a blank slate with infinite potential. Brandywine’s vision was to redefine the city’s skyline by building vertical neighborhoods on top of the rail yards next to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, a vision that was met with profound skepticism.

In 2005, Brandywine opened their first big city project— a modern, all-glass geometric office tower called Cira Centre, which served as the first of its kind in West Philadelphia. Soon after, Brandywine acquired the historic former U.S. Post Office building—the most technologically advanced postal facility in the world when it was built in 1935. Brandywine invested $260M in a historically-certified restoration of the building, now home to the IRS 30th Street Campus.

Next, Brandywine began addressing the integrated workplace trend by creating the two-phase Cira Centre South development, which introduced evo, the nation’s tallest luxury graduate student apartment tower at the time of its completion in 2014, and the groundbreaking FMC Tower, known as the city’s first “vertical neighborhood.” The innovative 49-story, 730-foot FMC Tower now houses more than 600,000 square feet of trophy office space; AKA University City luxury hotel and apartment residences; Level 28, Philadelphia’s most exclusive lifestyle club; Cira Green, a one acre “park in the sky” located 90-feet above street-level; and Walnut Street Café, the all-day restaurant from the Michelin-starred BDP Hospitality team acclaimed as Philadelphia’s Best New Restaurant of 2017.

In the fall of 2017, Brandywine broke ground on Phase I of Schuylkill Yards, the 14-acre master planned innovation community. The $3.5 billion, 20-year mixed-use development project will create an integrated urban environment offering a connected community comprised of education and medical institutions, businesses, residents and visitors bound together by the pursuit of innovation.

Through the development of Schuylkill Yards, Brandywine Realty Trust is introducing a new type of development – one that is not centered around a singular tower, but that transforms a neighborhood and creates positive economic impact for the city as whole.

Through thoughtful, connected community, urban planning and the prioritization of public spaces, Brandywine continues to be a leader in what it truly means to build for the future.

For more information on Schuylkill Yards, visit schuylkillyards.com.


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