Engaging Locally: Trees Take Root in Penn Park
Penn Park construction workers are taking advantage of this week’s perfect springtime weather to keep the 24-acre project on track for a fall opening. The park, which lies on the east side of campus between Walnut and South streets, is the centerpiece of the University’s Penn Connects development plan.
As construction nears completion on the site’s four pedestrian access points, crews have begun planting the first round of more than 500 trees that will provide canopy cover and help mitigate stormwater runoff. The majority of the trees planted thus far line landforms that support pedestrian walkways and frame the multi-purpose fields and new tennis center. Layers of engineered soils will promote the growth of the strategically planted trees and native grasses, and will reduce runoff into the Schuylkill River with the help of an extensive stormwater drainage system.
By September, oaks, maples, cedars, pines, metasequoias and dozens of graceful willows will add plenty of green to an otherwise dense urban area and will help connect University City to Center City.
"Penn Park opens up a tree-lined pathway from Walnut Street directly to Franklin Field," says Facilities and Real Estate Services Senior Project Manager Mark Breitenbach, “which will provide pedestrians with a convenient and scenic entry to the campus from downtown Philadelphia.”
The next phase of Penn Park construction will feature the installation of synthetic turf on the multipurpose athletic fields and the surfacing of the tennis center’s 12 competition and recreation courts. Electricians are currently installing underground cables that will power the tall stadium lights, while paving has begun on the walkways that will weave through the park’s fields and landforms.
As grass seed and sod are applied in the summer months, members of the Penn community will begin to see the eastern part of campus grow even greener.
Text by Julie McWilliams
Photos by Scott Spitzer, Steve Belfiglio & Marc Cooper