University City Science Center: Innovation Plaza

University City Science Center (UCSC) is the nation’s largest and oldest urban research park. Exit Design was originally commissioned to create a wayfinding program, however a more impactful opportunity was identified in the process. By activating a seldom-used walkway, a new campus center would reflect the Science Center’s innovative culture and connect them to adjacent institutions and the surrounding residential communities.

The 37th Street walkway—renamed Innovation Plaza—is now a welcoming urban hub of learning and leisure. Exit facilitated workshops with stakeholders at UCSC to uncover core values and mission to articulate the brand narratives. The diverse collection of people at UCSC represent the fields of science, tech, engineering, art, and math, in addition to a strong health care sector. Three narratives became apparent: Convergence, representing those who work at UCSC; Community, emphasizing the close connection with the neighborhoods; and The Future: what everyone is designing at the UCSC.

Exit Design delivered

Brand Strategy
Experience Design
Placemaking
Exterior Wayfinding
Donor Recognition

Location

Philadelphia, PA

In association with

Andropogon Associates, Ltd.

Size

27,000 square feet (0.6 acres)

Awards

AIGA Philadelphia Design Award

We conceptualized the plan for Innovation Plaza using the underlying structure found in elements of nature known as the Golden Section or Fibonacci Sequence, which has inspired architects, scientists, engineers, and artists for millennia.

A bold sequence of illuminated red portals draws people through the Plaza and symbolizes movement into the future.

We integrated the Golden Section proportion throughout the Plaza’s landscape, digital portals, and signage. Landscape architecture and design was in partnership with Andropogon Associates.

“Innovation Plaza fits right in with our vision for uCity Square. Fostering a live/work/play environment in the heart of University City is a key goal for the Science Center, as we expand our footprint and rebrand our physical campus as uCity Square.”

Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D., MBA, President & CEO, University City Science Center

The Innovators Walk of Fame, a striking installation of stained concrete blocks and steel, celebrates regional change-makers while providing spaces to sit and gather.

Innovation Plaza has become a landmark experience in Philadelphia that has socialized the Science Center while encouraging community, enhancing campus navigation, and exemplifying their legacy of ingenuity.