Yesterday afternoon, Penn unveiled a new front lawn for the Palestra.
Whether it was the allure of free food or an excuse to enjoy the sunshine, Penn students and faculty alike flocked to the grand opening of Shoemaker Green.
With the sounds of Caribbean music playing in the background, members of the Penn community explored the 2.75 acres of added green space in front of the Palestra before hearing Board of Trustees Chair David Cohen and President Amy Gutmann speak.
Others who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony included state representatives Jim Roebuck and Nick Miccarelli, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, and Sally Shoemaker, wife of donor Alvin Shoemaker.
The $8.5-million project is an environmentally sustainable contribution to Penn’s campus. Among other benefits, the green will help reduce runoff and improve water quality, according to the project website.
Shoemaker Green is “designed and built to combine beauty with smart sustainability,” Cohen said.
The area, featuring tree-lined walkways, a rain garden and abundant green space, is one of many efforts to enhance campus aesthetics.
In addition, the expansive lawn replaces unsightly tennis courts, making the area more visually appealing.
Shoemaker Green, named after long-term Penn benefactor Al Shoemaker, is “another link in what I think of as an emerald chain of green spaces that will unite our campus,” Gutmann said.
The next link, she added, is Spruce Street Plaza, which will serve as a gateway between the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology by 34th Street.
Many students who attended the grand opening found Shoemaker Green to be both beautiful and practical.
College sophomore Yousi Oquendo, who frequents a nearby food truck, said, “It’s nice to have somewhere to sit and eat lunch.”
College freshman Zoe Blickenderfer also appreciated the new green. “It’s beautiful,” she said. “I studied here the other day.”
Other students, however, expressed concerns over the project’s high cost, noting that they would rather see University funds used to improve the quality of buildings in the area, such as the David Rittenhouse Laboratory, where many math and science classes are held.
“I think it was a little too expensive,” College sophomore Apoorva Shah said, adding that he would probably not use the space due to its location on the far east end of campus.
College sophomore Chloe Sigal said, “If you want to improve the community, there are other ways to do it too.”
Though some students interviewed were unaware of Shoemaker Green’s environmental benefits, most said they appreciated Penn’s efforts to become a more sustainable campus.
“I really admire Penn for trying to be sustainable with all their construction because it’s really easy to disregard the environment while constantly expanding,” College sophomore Chinyere Agbai said.
“Here at Shoemaker Green, everyone will be able to find a place to take a quiet break, make the most of a beautiful day, meet a friend to study or enjoy the scenery as they make their way through campus,” Cohen said.