In Philadelphia, a New Riverfront Research Campus, Planned by Cooper Robertson

Reflecting the firm’s active work and credentials in the research and healthcare sectors, Cooper Robertson has planned and designed the public areas of a new, 8.5-acre clinical research campus along the Schuylkill River for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The solution includes cutting-edge resiliency practices to protect against storm-water and flooding.

According to Cooper Robertson partner Donald Clinton, AIA, MRAIC, LEED AP, the master plan for the Philadelphia location directly across the river from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s main campus has created a “flexible phasing framework for long-term development of up to 2 million square feet of clinical research uses.”

Working in collaboration with Ballinger and Pelli Clark Pelli, and under the stewardship of CHOP senior vice president Douglas Carney, AIA, LEED AP, Cooper Robertson led the team’s efforts to gain city approvals and then to shape the site’s public spaces.

The ultimate design includes four distinct public open spaces totaling 4.55 acres: South Street Plaza, Schuylkill Avenue Green, Bainbridge Place, and a Promenade overlooking the Schuylkill River. The new and welcoming public face of these outdoor zones not only “act to buffer the scale of the new campus in relation to the rest of the community,” says Clinton, “but they also support the resiliency of the site and the neighborhood in the event of flooding.” The design plans for the collection, conveyance, and retention of 85% of the storm water that hits the site, through a combination of green roofs, rain gardens, and underground cisterns that are expressed as landscape features.

The first building for the campus is the Roberts Center for Pediatric Research, with 466,000 square feet of clinical research and office space, designed by Ballinger and Pelli Clark Pelli.


Recognized internationally for its successes in making thriving places, the award-winning design firm Cooper Robertson integrates architecture and urban design at many scales, from buildings to parks to city districts. Founded in 1979 by Alexander Cooper, FAIA, the firm is now led by a core group of diverse and accomplished professionals. Acclaimed works by the firm include large-scale urban redevelopments, major cultural and educational buildings, waterfront sustainability and resiliency plans, and exceptional residences and resorts. Recent medical and health district projects have included the Research Triangle Park Master Plan and work for Duke Univefrsity Medical Center. Visit


Donald Clinton, AIA, MRAIC, LEED AP, is a partner with Cooper Robertson. Clinton has broad experience addressing urban design and architectural challenges at all scales. He joined Cooper Robertson in 1985, became a partner in the firm in 1995, and is a member of the firm’s management committee. He leads the firm’s collaborations with medical and research institutions, including Duke University Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Research Triangle Park, and NYU Polytechnic. He has also led mixed-use development and multi-family residential planning projects on significant sites in the five boroughs and across North America. Don has represented private and institutional development clients, and he has conducted master planning assignments for public agencies. Before joining Cooper Robertson, Don worked in Toronto, Los Angeles, and London, and earned a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Toronto. He has taught urban design as a visiting instructor at the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Virginia.


Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

8.5 acres / 2 million square feet

2017 (Phase 1), and 2012 (Master Plan)

Ballinger, Architect of Record and MEP
Pelli Clarke Pelli, Associate Architect
Cooper Robertson, Associate Architect
Thornton Tomasetti, Structural
Pennoni Associates, Civil/Survey
Ground Reconsidered, Landscape
Hughes Associates, Code
The Lighting Practice, Lighting
Acentech, Acoustics
Haahs & Associates, Parking
Cloud Gehshan, Environmental Graphics