August 31, 2012 by Sandra Petri
Faculty and staff of the LeBow College of Business gathered in the quad Aug. 21 to celebrate as the final beam was placed atop the building that will be the business school’s new home.
The ironworkers who have been working on the structure for months joined the crowd for the traditional “topping out” ceremony, during which the last beam was raised and placed on the structure.
Speeches were given by Frank Linnehan, interim dean of the LeBow College of Business; Richard Greenawalt, chairman of the board of trustees; and Drexel University President John A. Fry. A catered buffet breakfast, champagne toast, and cannon of gold streamers added to the celebration.
Before the ceremony, attendees had a final opportunity to sign the beam that would be hoisted up to complete the framework of the building. The beam, painted yellow in honor of Drexel’s colors of blue and gold, was also adorned with the flags of Drexel and the United States. Secured to the middle of the beam was a potted evergreen tree, as part of the tradition of the ceremony. “It began as a gesture of respect for the forest that provided building materials. … It’s still appropriate today as we strive to build sustainable structures on this campus,” Fry said.
Part of Fry’s long-term strategic plan for the University is the creation of an “innovation neighborhood,” an interdisciplinary collaboration to solve real-world problems. He explained it as “a neighborhood where students, faculty, and professional staff all live and work, sharing ideas and collaborating on solutions to society’s challenges.” The new building will serve as the cornerstone of this collaborative environment.
In his speech, Linnehan expressed gratitude to all involved in making the project a success, especially Bennett S. LeBow and George Tsetsekos. The college’s namesake contributed the largest individual donation to the fund for the new building. Tsetsekos, described by Linnehan as “the largest cheerleader for this building,” served as the dean of LeBow for 10 years before resigning in April.
After offering his own thanks and congratulations, Greenawalt praised the work-in-progress.
“The building behind us is a great representation of where your college is at today. It’s a wonderful structure; it’s sturdy and impressive. It’s built with love and care and the highest level of expertise and professionalism. Every element is innovative and state of the art. You can see incredible potential just looking at it,” Greenawalt said.
The new building is located at the corner of 32nd and Market streets, on the site where the college’s former home, Matheson Hall, stood for more than 45 years. LeBow faculty and staff have been scattered among the other academic buildings and a rented space at 3600 Market St.
The new 12-story building, which will cost around $92 million, is scheduled to open in 2014. Inside will be a five-story atrium, a finance trading lab, an auditorium, a lecture hall, a faculty seminar room and 13 classrooms, four of which will have computers. According to the college’s website, every classroom will be equipped with “integrated teaching technology.” And, going along with LeBow’s dedication to collaboration and entrepreneurship, there will be incubator space for budding companies as well as group study rooms and spaces available for use by LeBow student organizations.