In Association WithMichael Van Valkenburg Associates, Inc. Landscape Architects
The Penn Park Athletic and Park Maintenance Facilities project includes a softball field and bleachers; security, VIP and press box pavilions; tennis courts and team rooms, main terrace structure supporting a much needed athletics facility expansion and new urban park.
Nestled between two regional rail lines on the Schuylkill riverfront, the $46-million Penn Park is a low-lying 24-acre site on the eastern edge of the University of Pennsylvania campus. The main goal of the park, which used to be a giant parking lot for mail trucks, is to provide a mix of park and sports facilities for the university. In addition to playing fields for the public, Penn Park expands UPenn’s athletic facilities and creates two new multi-purpose turf fields, a softball field, a natural grass hockey field, twelve tennis courts, along with a press box, concession stand, restrooms, and spectator stands. There are now two acres of open space and more than 530 newly planted native trees.
Designed and built in just 18 months, the park features a set of “large sculptural landforms” that organize the site, enable pedestrian circulation, and connect the park to the campus and Philadelphia. Indeed, a lot of connectivity design work was needed: Tom Stoelker at The Architect’s Newspaper writes that the space is “between a fully functioning high-speed rail corridor, a commuter train line, a freeway, freight tracks, and two major downtown arteries.”