Penn Park overcomes extreme physical constraints to transform a parking lot into a large public open space integrated with an expansion of the University of Pennsylvania’s athletic campus, including two new multi-purpose turf fields, a softball field, a natural grass hockey field, and twelve tennis courts. Built on a site isolated by elevation and infrastructure, including several rail lines, the park employs a combination of bridges and large sculptural landforms to build needed urban connections through the park to its urban context while realizing a range of programmatic goals.
The park realizes several sustainability goals, notably the reduction of potable water consumption and the replenishment of groundwater. Other park sustainability features include energy-efficient shielded lights which reduce light pollution, and reuse of salvaged site materials including an existing pedestrian bridge that was repurposed. Despite its challenging physical isolation, Penn Park’s location on the Schuylkill River provides stunning views of Center City. The vivid Philadelphia skyline opens up to visitors entering the park from Penn, a tangible connection between the university and the city.
As straightforward industrial remediation projects are built out, complex and difficult sites will become the norm. This project demonstrates how inherent constraints can become design opportunities. Penn Park exploits its dramatic grade change to simultaneously expand the Penn athletic campus and create a public park that opens up the university to its community.
Architects Newspaper - "Town, Gown, and Park"
ASLA Dirt - "Penn Park"
The Daily Pennsylvanian - "Penn Park"
NBC - "Penn Park Brings 'Green' to University City"
Philadephia Inquirer - "Penn's New Park"
Penn Gazette - "Penn Connected"