PennConnects to complete sustainable park next fall

Shoemaker Green will occupy the space next to David Rittenhouse Laboratory

· October 12, 2011, 10:39 pm   ·  Updated October 20, 2011, 2:52 am

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Courtesy of Jennifer Rizzi


A second College Green will take shape on the east end of campus next fall.

Construction on Shoemaker Green, a new 2.75-acre public commons next to David Rittenhouse Laboratory, began in September.

Demolition of the Lott Tennis Courts, which used to occupy the space, began shortly after the opening of Penn Park’s Hamlin Outdoor Tennis Center last month.

Shoemaker Green was originally called Palestra Green in the PennConnects plan, but was renamed in honor of 1960 Wharton graduate Alvin Shoemaker when he became an emeritus trustee in Oct. 2008.

“The idea is to take the DNA of College Green and bring it to the Palestra and Franklin Field,” said Edward Sidor, director for design and construction. He stressed that the space would be useful for both small gatherings and large crowds.

In addition to providing an open space for students to relax, eat lunch or do homework, Shoemaker Green will serve as a space for “the Village” during Penn Relays, an area for alumni and student events as well as a gateway to Penn Park.

Tables and chairs will be placed outside Hutchinson Gym, a new crosswalk will be added on 33rd Street and the War Memorial will be partially restored.

In accordance with Penn’s Climate Action Plan, the space will contain several sustainable features. A rain garden — a low area containing pipes to retain storm water and plantings that can tolerate wet soil conditions — will be placed next to DRL. Other environmental initiatives include use of native plant material, lighting that doesn’t interfere with nearby buildings and recycling materials from demolition for future maintenance practices, such as pruning and fertilizing foliage and melting snow and ice in the area.

As a result, the project has been selected to participate in a pilot program for the Sustainable Sites Initiative, an effort that promotes creation of sustainable landscapes. By observing its pilot projects, Sustainable Sites Initiative hopes to develop a certification for land development similar to LEED, a certification program for green buildings.

This is the “forefront of landscape certification,” Sidor said.

However, design and construction project manager Marc Cooper said his team would still implement these sustainable features regardless of the program.

As of now, the team has begun putting in underground infrastructure, including piping, a cistern and chilled water lines that connect to the Palestra and Hutchinson Gym for air conditioning.

“It doesn’t look like much, but there’s a lot in the first few months that’s going into the ground,” Sidor said.

Engineering sophomore Weiyiping Huang, who frequents the area, has not noticed the recent construction on Shoemaker Green.

“None of my friends have been talking about it,” she said. “When it’s finished, I might go there. If there are some events going on there, people will probably go.”

Engineering sophomore Erica Aduh, on the other hand, would like to spend time at Shoemaker Green.

“I’m really into studying outside,” she said. There aren’t “that many places to just relax around Engineering between classes.”

“Athletes and engineers who stay down here will really use these areas,” added Engineering sophomore and Penn Cheer member Sabrina Andrews. She agreed that the space would be a good area to “take a break in between classes.”

“I think [the eastern end of campus] is going to become more popular.”

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