Institutional Facilities Plan

Background and History of the Jefferson (Philadelphia University+Thomas Jefferson University) East Falls Campus

Philadelphia University was founded in 1884 as the Philadelphia Textile School in the wake of the 1876 Centennial Exposition.

By the mid-1890's, the School had settled at Broad and Pine Streets in downtown Philadelphia. It survived the Depression and entered a new period of growth at the outset of World War II. In 1941, the School was granted the right to award baccalaureate degrees and changed its name to the Philadelphia Textile Institute (PTI).

By 1949, PTI, relocated from downtown and began conducting classes on the present main campus site in the East Falls section of Philadelphia. Throughout the 1950's, it continued to be successful and, in 1961, changed its name to Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science (PCT&S).

The College purchased the adjoining (former Lankenau School) property in 1972, doubling the size of its campus to a little over 25 acres. With the purchase and donation of adjacent properties over the next forty years, included the buildings and grounds of the former Ravenhill Academy, PCT&S continued a path of successful slow growth to its current size of approximately 100 acres.


To better reflect the institution’s breadth and depth, the College applied for and was granted university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1999. And, in a historic move, the Board of Trustees voted to change the School’s name to Philadelphia University on July 13, 1999.

The University now has three colleges, including the College of Architecture and the Built Environment; the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce; and the College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts.

In December 2015 Philadelphia University and Jefferson University announced intentions to integrate. That process concluded July 1, 2017 becoming one University known as Jefferson (Philadelphia University+Thomas Jefferson University), East Falls Campus.

The current approved Philadelphia University facilities master plan:

In December of 2016 the city approved rezoning of the Jefferson (Philadelphia University+Thomas Jefferson University) East Falls Campus in line with it's institutional plan that had been in the planning stages with the community through a public planning process since 2012.

Click here for Current Approved Plan

1-21-2016 Plan summary:

  • Maintains most of the existing buildings.
  • Provides for competitive athletic facilities improvements at Ravenhill and Main Campus. The softball field however remains in its current location.
  • Provides for an assortment of incremental housing options that the University can implement as needed and are fiscally responsible. Approximately 700 beds +.
  • Provides for modest academic growth, with a few new contemporary facilities: i.e., Health & Science Center (Hayward Hall Addition), Architectural School expansion module, and the replacement of Downs Hall. The proposed “swing or mixed use building” shown on the earlier plans has been removed.
  • There is no transportation Center or Henry Ave pedestrian bridge within this plan.
  • Some new or replacement parking will occur within the designated development zones. Parking will be aggregated across campus and surpasses regulatory requirements. The campus parking regulations will be adjusted as the development occurs to accommodate need, with a goal of more efficient utilization.
  • Provides for a new contemporary University pedestrian entrance at the corner, with proximate visitor parking.
  • Plan aligns with the commitments of the University’s Association of College and University Presidents’ Carbon Commitment, Climate Action Plan, currently on file.
  • Plan aligns with Philadelphia University’s 2012 Sustainable Landscape Master Plan.
  • Storm water improvements will continue to be done in synchronized support of the plan.
  • The 1-21-2016 plan added clarity in the legend to better distinguish improvement zones from building zones, as well as provides details such as where the existing loading zones are located. It better illustrates the intended tree buffers, and the intended improvement zone boundaries.

The University has gone to extraordinary measures to 3D map our entire perimeter and provide an interactive plan that includes photos of the campus as it exists today, and 3D illustrations of what the campus might look by the end of the plan. By clicking on interactive plan’s buttons aerial and street view perspectives of each of those locations will pop up!

Click here for 3D map

While some future buildings are nearer term and have some preliminary rendering of how they may appear, the box-like shapes are simply a graphical representation of the size and bounds of the intended structures.

Philadelphia University benefits from having an eclectic portfolio of building architecture within its campus, and that is likely to continue with future buildings. We really are not sure of what the designs will reflect. We have a history of working with renowned architects and creating award winning buildings and hope that tradition continues.

Why did the University create this website?

This web-site is intended to allow unfiltered access to the most recent iteration of the University’s plan. It has and will continue to be coupled with informational meetings when projects are upcoming and if adjustments are needed.

What happens if changes are needed to the plan?

Our understanding is that the plan is fairly restrictive and only small adjustments are considered for administrative approval by City planning. Changes greater than their authority requires an amendment voted on by City Council.


Building within the plan outline requires building permits, but no hearing before the City's Zoning Board of Adjustments. Buildings over a certain size, even if on the plan, require an architectural review process that includes public comment.
Significant adjustments would trigger a re-engagement of the process and new or amended ordinance(s)

What is happening soon?

The rezoning has been approved by City Planning for the University's first project of this plan, a new 60,000+ gsf Health and Science Center, designed by Jacobs, fronting Henry Ave. The building’s plans are consistent with the master plan, and the building is smaller than the requirement for a Civic Design Review.  Zoning has been approved as of February 2017. The University hopes to break ground on this building later in the year.