Drexel University, Perelman Center for Jewish Life

The Center for Jewish Life at Drexel is the headquarters of the school’s Hillel organization and the overall home for Jewish activities at Drexel. The three-story, 14,000 SF structure sits contemplatively between two Victorian homes, with its most notable exterior feature being the irregularly-patterned brick and glass verticals—reminiscent of the candles of a menorah—that comprise the facade.

Key to the interior is the structural support system, which uses only four columns. Arranged in a rectangular shape and pushed to the interior of the building, the columns create a circulation area that rings each floor while clearing a central void occupied by two of the building’s most important components: A two-story monumental stair that can also be used as a gathering space, and a third-floor glass-enclosed courtyard. The courtyard’s enclosure encourages visitors to look skyward, enjoying a view described by the architect as “free of the works of man.”