Once Parking Lots, Now a Park: University of Pennsylvania Converts Postal Lands to Open Space

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Media Contact:Julie McWilliams | juliemcw@upenn.edu | 215-898-1422March 3, 2009

PHILADELPHIA –- The University of Pennsylvania announced today that Penn Park, a $40 million green swath of open space and athletic fields, will replace 14 acres of asphalt parking lots once owned by the United States Postal Service.

The area bound by Walnut Street, South Street, the Schuylkill River and Penn’s main campus is to be designed by landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and features four athletic fields, a dozen tennis courts, a multi-level elevated pedestrian walk that will allow movement throughout the site and a raised central plaza with Center City skyline views. The playing fields will be framed by tree-topped berms interspersed with seating and native-species meadow grasses to diversify and beautify the landscape and provide a natural habitat. An innovative storm-water management system is being installed to capture and divert rain water in underground cells to supply the site’s irrigation system.

“This is the first time that Penn, by design, has acquired land that will remain as open space, which has tremendous environmental benefits for our campus and the city” Penn President Amy Gutmann said. “Penn Park will dramatically enhance our athletic and recreational amenities, create a beautiful new campus gateway and further link University City and Center City.”

Pedestrians will be able to access the park from Walnut Street, 31st Street (lower level) and the Goldie Paley Bridge from Franklin Field. The park will be open to the public and the athletic fields will be used for regulation, club and intramural competitions and practices and for public access at specified times.

Penn Park connects to Penn’s existing athletic fields and upon completion in 2011 will total 24 acres of open space. It is the centerpiece of Penn Connects –- A Vision for the Future, the University’s 30-year master plan published in 2006.

Additional information is available at www.pennconnects.upenn.edu.