PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania officially broke on ground on Friday, Nov. 6, 2009 for its 24-acre Penn Park, a $46 million project at the eastern edge of campus that features open space, athletic fields and tennis courts.
The parcel, located south of Walnut Street, with Amtrak rail lines to the east and the SEPTA rail corridor to the west, is 14 acres of land Penn purchased from the U.S. Postal Service in 2007 as well as 10 acres the University already owned below South Street.
Penn Park -- the centerpiece of Penn Connects, the University's 30-year master plan -- should be completed by 2011. The park will bring 20 percent more green space to the urban campus, while creating a new gateway uniting University City with Center City.
"For far too long, these 24 acres of pure potential stretching along the west bank of the Schuylkill River have been buried under a cold carpet of asphalt and concrete," Penn President Amy Gutmann said. "After 25 years in the making, Penn Park is finally becoming a reality, and it will put Penn, yet again, at the forefront of innovative land use and responsible urban design, weaving the eastern edge of campus into the daily fabric of Center City life. "
A team led by landscape-architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates of Cambridge, Mass., along with 13 consultants, designed the space to include three athletic fields, a 12-court outdoor tennis facility, a multi-level elevated walk to allow pedestrian movement throughout the site and a raised central plaza with Center City skyline views.
The playing fields will be multipurpose with synthetic turf for club, intramural or recreational games. One field will be covered with a seasonal air structure to create an indoor environment that will allow athletics programming throughout the winter months.
Sculptural landforms, planted with a variety of trees and native grasses, will define the playing fields and support the pedestrian walkways. A storm-water management system is planned to capture and divert rainwater into underground cells to supply the site's irrigation system. Park lighting will feature energy efficient fixtures with shielding to prevent light pollution.
Surface parking will be provided along lower Walnut Street as a placeholder for future development.
The main access to the park from campus will be via the Goldie Paley Bridge from Franklin Field. Public access will also be provided from the Walnut Street Bridge at 30th Street and from 31st Street at grade level.
Additional information about Penn Park and Penn Connects is available at www.pennconnects.upenn.edu.
CONSTRUCTION OF WEISS PAVILION UNDERWAY!
PHILADELPHIA--Many years ago, folk musician Joni Mitchell wrote, "they paved paradise and they put up a parking lot."
In 2009, the University of Pennsylvania is unpaving a parking lot to put up paradise -- at least for its athletes and the University community.
Click here to see video/text from the June 2009 groundbreaking!
The George A. Weiss Pavilion is a $25.7 million project that, when completed, will take up the entire north façade of Franklin Field. Inside the archways that form the stadium’s outer core on that side, the Pavilion will feature an intercollegiate strength and conditioning center; the Robert A. Fox FitnessCenter for general University use; a retail outlet; and more than 8,000 square feet that will be available for future athletic development.
Ultimately, the Pavilion project will reach all the way around the East end of the stadium, and include renovations to the current weight room as well as the Munger Complex (football locker room, training room, etc.).
Overall, the construction job will entail approximately 55,000 square feet.
The design was put together by Crawford Architects out of Kansas City, with two of the lead people being Penn grads Stacey Jones and David Murphy. Crawford Architects is well-versed when it comes to designing athletic facilities -- among other projects they have designed are Camden Yards in Baltimore, Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, the renovated Lambeau Field in Green Bay, and the expansion to the Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park.
Locally, Hunter Roberts is the construction company that is doing the work and executing the new design.
The major undertaking is on the lower level, where 28 feet of fill is being removed to make way for the intercollegiate strength and conditioning center. When Franklin Field was originally built, its base was at an actual street that ran along the north side of the stadium (Marston Street). That street was covered decades ago, and only early in the design process of the Weiss Pavilion was it re-discovered. The fill has been dug out, essentially re-capturing the original base of Franklin Field, and this has given the project an extra 25,000 square feet to develop into the intercollegiate strength and conditioning center.
The intercollegiate center will be approximately 18,000 square feet. It will feature an area devoted to stretching, 30 weight racks, plate loaded and selectorized equipment. There will also be a multi-purpose room where coaches can conduct cardio, flexibility, and speed drills.
On the concourse level -- previously the level where people would enter Franklin Field after parking their cars -- the University is building 3,000 square feet of retail space for food/beverage, game-day concessions, and catering. Under the current plans, there will be access to the retail center both from outside Franklin Field as well as inside the stadium. At the East end will be the Robert A. Fox Fitness Center, a two-level, state-of-the-art fitness facility that is expected to be a complement to the David S. Pottruck Fitness Center that is already located on campus. This area will be open to the University’s faculty, staff, and general student population.
And what of the archways that define the outside of Franklin Field? Those will be glazed over, so that people in the Fitness Center and the retail outlets will be able to look out on the Shoemaker Green, the new Penn Park, and a spectacular view of the Philadelphia city skyline.
The area set aside for future athletic development is at the West end of Franklin Field, closest to 33rd Street.