Penn Park Opens, Connects University of Pennsylvania with Center City

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Last week, the University of Pennsylvania made an effort to bridge the gap between itself and Center City by opening a newly-constructed 24-acre park. Penn Park, which combines a former postal service parking lot with university property, is bounded by Walnut and South Sts. to the north and south, and rail tracks to the east and west.

One of Penn Park’s most notable qualities is the opportunities it provides for pedestrian connection to Center City. According to Anne Papageorge, Penn’s Vice President for Facilities and Real Estate Services, the park is "knit together" by three pedestrian bridges. One bridge connects the park with Walnut St. just past the Schuylkill River, while another bridge enables pedestrians going to or coming from downtown to access the park from the South Street Bridge.

“Transforming these 24 acres of abandoned lots and unused land into open, accessible, sustainable space connecting Penn with Center City will transform our beautiful campus and Philadelphia for generations to come,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “Penn Park marks the first time that the University has, by design, developed open space for the use of the Penn community and beyond.”

A major feature of Penn Park is its commitment to sustainability in both construction and operation. Some sustainability highlights:

  • Diverse local flora. More than 500 trees have been planted on the site, including white pine, swamp white oak, and metasequoia.
  • Self-irrigating athletic fields. The permeable synthetic turf fields, which do not require mowing, fertilizing, or irrigation, allow rainwater to drain through into underground cisterns for reuse in an on-site irrigation system for the site’s natural plantings.
  • Sustainable lighting system. State-of-the-art, energy-efficient lighting is expected to save 300,000 watts of energy per hour and will feature shielding to prevent light pollution.
  • Recycled and repurposed materials. Old cobblestones, curbing and asphalt millings uncovered during site preparation have been repurposed on site as fill.

Penn Park Grand Opening, courtesy of The Daily Pennsylvanian

Read more here at the Daily Pennsylvanian.