Gattuso Development and Drexel University Break Ground on the City’s Largest Life Sciences Research Facility

The 11-story, 520,000 sq. ft. project reaffirms city’s role as a hub for life sciences research

Sponsored by ECBuild / EwingCole

Philadelphia, February 8, 2023 – Gattuso Development Partners and Drexel University formally broke ground today on 3201 Cuthbert Street, a dazzling new life sciences research and laboratory that will become the city’s largest facility of its kind while cementing Philadelphia’s status as an emerging global life sciences research hub.

Located on Drexel’s campus in the heart of the burgeoning University City research corridor, 3201 Cuthbert is a partnership between Gattuso, Drexel, and financial partners Vigilant Real Estate Holdings of New York and Boston-based The Baupost Group.

The groundbreaking ceremony was marked on-site by a dazzling virtual display powered by more than 200 drones, culminating in a 200-foot tall image of a giant shovel virtually digging into the site to represent the formal launch of construction.

Drexel President John Fry, Mayor Jim Kenney, and John Gattuso, together with other project partners, hailed the new building as perhaps the most advanced life sciences research facility in the nation when it is completed in Fall 2024.

“We are proud to help launch the next chapter in the storied growth of University City’s life sciences community,” said Fry. “As Drexel continues to play a prominent role in creating a vibrant innovation ecosystem around its campus, this exciting project will provide an incredible expansion of opportunities for research and collaboration not only for our students and faculty but for the city as a whole.”

“This project represents a unique opportunity to leverage the world-class life sciences research already underway in the University City Corridor,” said John Gattuso, “and we believe that 3201 Cuthbert will set the standard for state-of-the-art research facilities in the years to come.”

The 11-story, 520,000 square foot project will include a mix of specialized research and laboratory space, together with commercial, academic, and office uses, providing a best-in-class space for tenants, students, visitors, and faculty.

Already more than 45 percent leased, the building’s tenants will include Drexel University and other private sector life sciences companies, led by SmartLabs, a nationally renowned advanced laboratory and manufacturing solutions provider. SmartLabs designs, builds, and operates integrated, enterprise-grade research environments, including multifunctional research and development labs, vivaria, process development, pilot-scale manufacturing, and cGMP suites for companies of all sizes. 

“SmartLabs is thrilled to bring our advanced infrastructure and operations platform to the region’s scientific innovators,” said Amrit Chaudhuri, SmartLabs CEO and co-founder. “The city already boasts a rapidly expanding set of companies that are leading cell and gene therapy research, and we can help them improve their scientific outcomes while accelerating time from discovery to commercialization.”

Designed by Robert AM Stern Architects (RAMSA), the new building will feature a precast concrete façade with large metal-framed windows that will present an orderly grid strategically punctuated at key points throughout the structure. On the south façade, a series of protruding glass boxes extends outwards, housing special meeting rooms overlooking the campus. An outdoor space on the fourth floor will provide tenants with a landscaped terrace, while a two-story covered loggia below extends the abundant connections to the outdoors.

A crowning feature of the building is the rooftop event space that opens onto an expansive outdoor terrace. The terrace will provide scenic panoramic views of the campus and city, while its soaring roofline will be illuminated during the evenings. The building’s cascading northern façade offers a series of dynamic views of the Philadelphia skyline.

“It’s an honor to collaborate with visionary clients, and we’re excited to celebrate this momentous milestone with Gattuso Development Partners and Drexel University as we take one step closer to bringing this noteworthy project to life,” said Meghan McDermott, partner at RAMSA who serves as design lead for the project.“With a focus on highly efficient laboratory and research floors, modern amenities, outdoor space, and sustainability, this building will be a new landmark on the Drexel campus.”  RAMSA’s work in Philadelphia has included Comcast Center, the Museum of the American Revolution, Gerri C. LeBow Hall and Chestnut Square on Drexel’s campus, and multiple buildings at The Navy Yard.

The building includes expanded floor-to-floor heights, a state-of-the-art HVAC system specially designed for laboratory research, fully enclosed loading docks, best practice chemical storage space and pH neutralization capability, five service elevators, and generous amounts of space designated for tenant equipment and vertical shaft infrastructure.

The robust infrastructure, functionality, and flexibility essential to supporting life sciences is balanced against modern amenities and a pronounced connection to the outdoors.

Plans also call for a new public plaza by design and landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations. Located within walking distance of 30th Street Station, the plaza repurposes what is currently an alley, reimagining the space as a landscaped, public amenity that can be used by building tenants and the public at-large. New at-grade retail lining 33rd Street and fronting the plaza will further activate the pedestrian realm.

The building is expected to be completed by Fall 2024.

“Today’s groundbreaking affirms Philadelphia’s growing reputation as a global hub for life sciences research,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.  “This work also represents an important piece of the city’s economy going forward, one that will create thousands of new jobs and opportunities for our citizens.

“If it wasn’t already clear, today’s groundbreaking should make it official: Philadelphia has arrived as a national leader in life sciences research, and we are committed to continuing to support the growth of the sector in the years ahead.”

Contact:                                                                                             February 8, 2023      

Samantha Lem


[email protected]

Kevin Feeley


[email protected]

About Drexel

Drexel, a comprehensive urban university of more than 23,000 students, is a leader in experiential, technology-infused education, enriched by the nation’s premier cooperative-education program. Drexel is rethinking its institutional boundaries and creating a vibrant presence and ecosystem of innovation in and around University City. This ecosystem will ultimately benefit students through co-ops and career opportunities, benefit faculty through collaborative research and training, and benefit the surrounding community through the creation of a pipeline to employment. Through a partnership with Brandywine Realty Trust, Schuylkill Yards a $3.5 billion mixed-use project is being constructed on University real estate adjacent to Philadelphia’s Amtrak 30th Street Station. In partnerships with Spark Therapeutics and with Gattuso Development Partners, the University is bringing a state-of-the-art gene manufacturing center and what is expected to be the largest life sciences facility in Philadelphia to campus. Together with Wexford Science and Technology, Drexel is also extending uCity Square, a multi-billion-dollar development, in part through an academic building that will relocate the College of Medicine and College of Nursing and Health Professions to the University City campus. For more information about Drexel University, visit

About SmartLabs

SmartLabs designs, builds, and operates integrated, enterprise-grade research environments, including multifunctional research and development labs, vivaria, process development, pilot-scale manufacturing, and cGMP suites for companies of all sizes. SmartLabs currently operates four locations in Massachusetts – Kendall Square, East Cambridge, Boston Landing, and the Seaport District, as well as one location in California – South San Francisco. SmartLabs provides in-house design, architecture, and construction management, as well as full-service lab operations and facilities management and a suite of shared amenities. For more information, please email [email protected] or visit 

About Gattuso Development Partners

Gattuso Development Partners are committed to creating exceptional, sustainable high performance workplaces. We recognize that the right work environment is the most critical asset a business can offer to attract, retain and inspire its employees and promote long term success.

Gattuso professionals have played a key role in reshaping the Philadelphia skyline and revitalizing its urban landscape through their work with the urban development group at Liberty Property Trust, including more than $3 billion of development on projects like the Comcast Technology Center and the Comcast Center, in Center City, Philadelphia. This work also included the initial phase of the redevelopment of The Navy Yard, considered the most successful redevelopment of a former military facility anywhere in the country; the Camden Waterfront; and more than 50 office/flex buildings across the nation. Since its formation in 2018, Gattuso has completed the $125 million Iovance Biotherapeutics research and production facility at 300 Rouse Blvd., and is currently developing the 130,000 square foot cGMP facility at 2500 League Island Boulevard, both at The Navy Yard. For more information, go to

About Robert A.M Stern Architects (RAMSA)

Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, is an international architectural practice based in New York City offering architecture, urban planning, landscape, and interior design services. For more than 50 years, the practice has remained committed to architecture as an art and a profession. As a leading design firm with expertise in residential, commercial, and institutional projects, RAMSA believes buildings must gracefully satisfy clients’ needs while speaking to the public and elevating everyday life. The firm maintains an attention to detail and commitment to design quality which has earned international recognition, numerous awards and citations for design excellence.

About Vigilant Real Estate Holdings

Vigilant Real Estate Holdings was founded in 2020 to acquire strategic and diversified assets

across the United States with a specific focus on life sciences developments. The platform leverages nearly 70 years of combined real estate experience and relationships to capitalize transactions of

varying sizes and risk profiles. Led and co-founded by David Fowler and based in New York, Vigilant

currently owns over 1 million square feet of life sciences developments on both the east and west coasts. David Fowler spent the previous 12 years in real estate capital markets brokerage most recently serving as a senior vice president at CBRE in New York. Industry leader, John Fowler, serves as Vigilant’s senior advisor and was the co-founder and executive managing director of HFF, Inc prior to its sale to JLL.