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Hill Field's $2 million renovation project, started this summer and slated for completion by early November, will include new walkways and lighting, landscaping and 22 bench sculptures to commemorate 125 years of women at Penn. [John Byck/The Daily Pe

The University's own version of Rittenhouse Square is just weeks from completion.

Construction on the approximately $2 million project to transform Hill Field into Hill Square began last summer and is scheduled to wrap up for a Nov. 7 dedication.

In the meantime, the project has caused some inconveniences with blocked-off sidewalks and noisy construction work.

"We may have caused some scare by having that dirt piled up," Vice President for Facilities and Real Estate Services Omar Blaik said. Students "may have thought some high rises were going up."

Instead, the project focused on leveling the square -- an architectural challenge because of the approximately 10-foot slope from Chestnut to Walnut streets -- and creating a more open atmosphere.

When the fences come down, new lighting, improved walkways and more than 100 trees will adorn the renovated square.

"The walk has a gentle curve to it, and when you're looking from one end to the other, it's kind of like the Yellow Brick Road," University architect Charles Newman said, noting that bricks and granite curbs -- rather than plain cement -- will establish the path as an extension of other campus walkways.

Lining Hill Square's section of the walkway will be 22 bench sculptures crafted to commemorate 125 years of women at Penn. The benches and granite curbs will be adorned with quotations from Penn alumnae and other famous females.

Although some are just looking for construction to end and others are focused on the new square itself, both students and local retail owners are looking forward to the project's completion.

"Especially in the beginning of the year, it was really awful," College freshman and Hill College House resident Maayan Dauber said, noting that early-morning construction was a common gripe among residents.

"It's been getting better," she said, adding that she was excited about the square's opening.

Also pleased about the project's completion, retail owners along 34th Street noted that the finished product would improve ambiance and possibly customer volume.

"It'll be nice and green," Roses Florist Manager Maria Toroghi said. "I'm excited about it."

"I hope that we have more traffic," she added.

Although she said noise had not been an issue, Toroghi did note that the construction had not been hassle-free.

"I've been having to dust twice a week," she said, tracing her finger over a display shelf with a noticeable film of dirt -- the by-product of Hill Square construction and windy weather.

Hill residents, also noting the high volume of dirt, were skeptical that the project would be completed on time.

"I don't really believe it," Dauber said.

Adding that she had recently started to see signs of progress, College freshman Laura Amann was also skeptical.

"For a month it looked like they were just moving dirt piles around," Amann said.

Although trees lining 34th and Chestnut streets may come after the November dedication, the square will be "95 percent done" by then, according to Blaik.

University officials note that with technical work mostly finished, the project is undergoing more noticeable stages as it nears completion. Trees were delivered yesterday and bricks are being added to the pathway throughout the week.

"The number of questions about it have decreased considerably because now you can look in there," Newman said.

Hill Square may still see changes to come.

Future building construction has been discussed and plans to commission the parking lot next to the Zeta Psi fraternity house for landscaping and gardening are under consideration for next summer.

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