Shoemaker Green

WHAT: Shoemaker Green, Penn’s newest patch of open space, has spread a 2.75 acre welcome mat at the front door of the historic Palestra. Complete with an inviting lawn, a sustainable rain garden, a refurbished place of honor for Penn’s War Memorial sculpture, and pedestrian walkways that lead to Franklin Field and Penn Park, the green has further enhanced the east end of campus.

EXTREME MAKEOVER: What used to be there? Aging tennis courts, a faded crosswalk traversing 33rd Street, and a blocked view of the War Memorial. Now the site is home to 103 newly planted trees, 13 mature trees that were saved, a new pedestrian crossing, and an unobstructed view of the 1951 War Memorial by sculptor Charles Rudy and architect Grant Simon.

TRIBUTE TO EXCELLENCE: The new green is named in honor of Emeritus Trustee Alvin V. Shoemaker, who graduated from Wharton in 1960. Shoemaker served as Chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees from 1986 to 1994. In 1995, he was presented with an honorary doctorate degree in recognition of his many contributions to Penn.

ALL ARE WELCOME: A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 20, from noon until 2 p.m. There will be live music and refreshments, plus remarks by Chairman of the Board of Trustees David L. Cohen and President Amy Gutmann.

PENN CONNECTS 2.0: The creation of Shoemaker Green is part of a larger, ongoing vision of campus development. The first phase, established in 2006, was called Penn Connects. It included the acquisition of 14 acres of land along the banks of the Schuylkill River that was transformed into Penn Park. Penn Connects 2.0 builds on the initial plan, with additional projects, including Shoemaker Green, the development of the South Bank, and construction of the new Singh Center for Nanotechnology, among many others. (See related stories about the master plan and the South Bank development at Grays Ferry).

LET IT RAIN: The new commons isn’t just pretty, it’s environmentally progressive. The rain garden, located near the David Rittenhouse Labs, is a carefully designed basin that captures and filters water, then diverts it to an underground 20,000-gallon cistern so it can be used again. Additionally, the special blend of grasses planted in the main lawn was selected for its durability, drought resistence, and deep root system.

TEST CASE: Shoemaker Green was chosen to be one of more than 150 pilot projects around the globe to test a new Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) rating system for landscapes, anticipated to be analogous to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Green Building ratings. SITES is the first set of national voluntary guidelines and performance benchmarks for the sustainable design, construction, and maintenance of landscapes.

WALK, DON’T ROLL: The green is intended for use by the Penn community, but there are a few rules to follow: There should be no climbing on trees, lampposts or fixed objects, no grills, no skateboards, and cyclists must walk their bikes through the square from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. A complete list of rules and regulations can be found at 

Shoemaker Green