Wistar Institute, in University City, has begun large expansion

University City’s famed Wistar Institute has just broken ground on a large expansion of its facility.  The Wistar Institute is a large medical research facility on Spruce Street, where the street intersects at the walkway where 36th Street would be, on the University of Pennsylvania campus.  The institute, named after prominent Philadelphia physician Caspar Wistar, was founded in 1892 and has developed numerous vaccines and cancer treatments over its illustrious history.  Even though it is located on the Penn campus, it is not affiliated with the university or its hospital across the street.  It does, however, add to the large concentration of medical research centers in what is often called the University City Medical Complex that also includes Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Veterans Administration Hospital.  These medical institutions are next to Penn’s biology and veterinary schools along University Avenue/38th Street.

The Wistar Institute built a landmark building in 1894, designed by architects George W. and William G. Hewitt, which is still at 36th & Spruce.  Later additions were added over time and rebuilt, with the latest in the 1970s, when the institute added a cancer center after being designated an official National Cancer Institute Cancer Center.  The cancer center, on the western end of the complex at 37th Street, will be renovated, but the section adjacent to the original 1894 building will be rebuilt with a seven-storey facility.  The new facility will have additional laboratory space, bringing the total number of laboratories to 40, and open floor plans to encourage collaboration among researchers.  It is believed that encouraging this collaboration through these open floor plans, where the researchers are likely to see each other during their work, will encourage team building and team solutions to curing illnesses.  This attempt to encourage collaboration through open floor plans is a very popular idea in developing research and office space today.  Locally, it is also being used in Drexel’s Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building and at the new Glaxo-Smithkline headquarters building under construction at the Navy Yard.

The expanded center will, also, allow the institute to expand their staff of researchers.  Expanded research could likely lead to the creation of new technology and new companies producing that technology in University City or down at the new high-tech Naval Business Center.  It, also, might attract more venture capital companies to the city, especially at Cira Center, next to 30th Street Station, which has the four largest venture capital companies in the Delaware Valley.  If you are one of those new employees looking for a home, or investment property, in the city, feel free to contact me at gabriel@thecondoshops.com or sign on to my facebook realtor page, Gabriel G. Philly Realtor.  You can, also, check out our Condo Shop listings at our Condo Shop website at www.thecondoshops.com, and our facebook page, The Condo Shop and our new Rittenhouse newsletter, Rittenhousenews.

Rendering of the new addition of Wistar Institute

Rendering of improved Wistar, looking west on Spruce Street

Inside the new and improved Wistar

Spruce Street side of Wistar Institute shows original building and modern additions

Cancer center portion of Wistar, before renovation

Front of original 1894 building, along 36th Street walkway on Penn campus

Historical marker, in front of original building, recounts Wistar's long and accomplished history

Construction fence around the cancer center, next to the 37th Street trolley station entrance


About gabrielcgottlieb

I am a real estate agent at Long & Foster Real Estate Center City and someone who likes to write about development and urban planning in the City of Philadelphia. Contact me at Gabriel.gottlieb@LNF.com if you are interested in buying or selling a home or investment property in Philadelphia.
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6 Responses to Wistar Institute, in University City, has begun large expansion

  1. Brad says:

    The renderings above show a location on Chestnut Street between 33rd and 34th streets (adjacent to an existing Penn garage and across 34th Street from Domus). I believe the current expansion, which you describe, is for the existing Wistar cluster on Spruce Street. Where did you find these renderings? I know the Penn Connects master plan had indicated development for the Chestnut site, but I hadn’t seen anything as of yet.

    • Thanks for pointing that out. I thought something seemed a little off about those pictures. I’ve since corrected them. I got those renderings from the Ballinger website, under the heading for Wistar Institute, which you can see here.

      BTW, do you know what those other pictures are? The land and garage are owned by Drexel, is that the new Drexel Law School Building, that they postponed?

  2. J says:

    That rendering you are showing is of a building that is next to a parking garage on 34th and Chestnut near the Penn Law School. Please look at the surrounding buildings in the rendering. This is not a rendering of the renovations planned at the Wistar Institute on Spruce. I am not saying that that building may also be in the institute’s future, but it is not of the building on Spruce. The correct rendering of the building on spruce is on NakedPhilly.

    • Thanks for pointing that out. I thought something was odd about those pictures. I’ve since corrected that. I got those pictures straight from the Ballinger website, under the heading for Wistar Institute, which you can see here.

      BTW, do you know what those other buildings are? The site is owned by Drexel.

  3. Brad says:

    To my knowledge, the new Drexel Law School Building was set to replace Stratton Hall further down Chestnut, but I think that idea is now dead in the water.

    Penn actually owns the garage and the surrounding surface parking on the block save for the Drexel Newman Center and its small adjacent lot (at the corner of Ludlow and 33rd streets).

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