Shoemaker Green opens as 'front lawn' to Palestra


$8.5 million project includes a rain garden that can capture water runoff during a storm


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*Shoemaker Green*, which sits in front of the Palestra, was named in honor of 1960 Wharton alumnus Alvin Shoemaker, who became an emeritus trustee in October 2008. 

Photo by Jing Ran


A touch of green was added to the Quaker Red and Blue this summer.

Shoemaker Green, a 2.75-acre area of open green space located in front of the Palestra, opened Aug. 20 to the Penn community. Construction on the $8.5 million project began September 2011.

Among other features, the open lawn consists of several tree-lined walkways and sitting areas. A war memorial paying homage to fallen soldiers also stands at the foreground of Shoemaker Green.

“We realized we have historic towering buildings, like the Palestra and Franklin Field, and instead of having a front lawn, we had six tennis courts,” Vice President for Facilities and Real Estate Services Anne Papageorge said. “It was not the most appealing of entrances.”

According to an October 2011 Daily Pennsylvanian article, Penn initially intended Shoemaker Green to be called the Palestra Green. It was renamed in honor of 1960 Wharton graduate Alvin Shoemaker when he became an emeritus trustee in October 2008.

Alvin Shoemaker will be present at an official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Green Sept. 20.

Papageorge added that Shoemaker Green should also create more open space on campus, since the future construction of a new college house on Hill Field will take away some of that space.

“We wanted to ensure students had enough space for passive recreation opportunities,” she said.

The construction is a “key element” of the University’s PennConnects plan, according to Papageorge. PennConnects, which began in 2005, is an initiative that aims to create more open, sustainable space across campus.

The construction process for Shoemaker Green involved covering the existing Lott Tennis Courts in front of the Palestra with soil, and establishing an electrical system and rainwater collection mechanism, said Marc Cooper, project manager for Shoemaker Green.

Cooper said one of Shoemaker Green’s most unique features is a rain garden that can capture water runoff during a storm. The rain garden is an “integral” feature of the area’s project design, according to Cooper.

Shoemaker Green also comes equipped with other environmentally sustainable features, including a specially engineered mix of soil and native plants.

Together, these elements make the Green one of the pilot sites for a new national initiative — the Sustainable Sites Initiative, University Architect David Hollenberg said. The initiative aims to create a set of criteria to evaluate the sustainability of open spaces, Hollenberg explained.

Students on campus have so far responded favorably to the opening of Shoemaker Green.

Wharton freshman Jimmy Gammill, who plays on Penn’s football team, said the area would be useful for tailgating before games.

“This is nice to look at when I walk to the locker rooms and to practice,” Gammill said. “I remember looking at the area when I came to visit Penn’s campus, and this looks great.”

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