FCA & ADA Study - Greek Houses

Drexel University Philadelphia, PA



Drexel University, founded in 1891, is one of the country’s largest private universities with 25,000 students. Its campus spans 96 acres in an urban setting. In addition to being known as an institution committed to providing cooperative education opportunities for its students in the U.S. and internationally, Drexel is also focused on providing an engaging student life experience on campus, which includes many student groups and organizations. Drexel is also committed to making these opportunities accessible to all students.

Entech was hired to perform Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs) on thirteen (13) university-owned Greek Houses, encompassing 132,000 square feet as well as a visual survey of American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, focused on public access to and within the Greek Houses.

Solution Details

Facility Condition Assessments
The facilities housing Drexel’s fraternities and sororities date back to the early 1900’s, late 1800’s. In spite of their age, the buildings were in relatively good condition, however, more than 280 capital renewal projects for a total project cost of $6.1M were identified. The most significant projects noted included masonry repointing of nearly all the buildings, electrical panel board replacements, fire alarm system upgrades, and exterior closure repairs. Additional projects included lighting upgrades, plaster and woodwork restoration, bathroom renovations and roof repairs. Projects were prioritized and scheduled over a 10-year period to allow the University time to plan and secure funding for recommended repairs.

ADA Compliance Assessment
In parallel with the FCA, we also completed a visual assessment of ADA code compliance related to access to and within the Greek Houses. Although fraternities and sororities are considered “private clubs” and therefore exempt from ADA compliance, these buildings are owned by the University, and they are taking a proactive approach to improving accessibility.
When assessing ADA compliance issues, older structures present a unique challenge. Non-compliant features may be considered “grandfathered in” under current code or may be waived if the cost exceeds a percentage of a planned renovation or if modifications are technically infeasible. Items noted in this assessment include installation of access ramps, creating accessible pathways (36” wide) inside the houses and renovating restrooms and bathrooms with required clearances and fixtures. Of the $1.2M in ADA upgrades identified, installation of the ramps was the most expensive project. It was also recommended that the University work with each organization to create dwellings on the first floor along an accessible route.

By having the foresight to evaluate and plan for improvements to these facilities as well as considering ways to make the buildings more accessible to all students, Drexel is ensuring that this segment of its student and campus life will not only continue for generations to come, but by being more inclusive, allow more of its student body to participate.

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13 buildings assessed

280+ projects identified

132,000 sq.ft.