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Shoemaker Green: The Red and Blue Turn Grey into A Green Sustainable Site
July 13, 2010, Volume 57, No. 01

Shoemaker Green
Shoemaker Green will provide a green link between the core of campus and the Penn Park.

A University of Pennsylvania project designed to turn a set of aging tennis courts into an urban park called Shoemaker Green has been selected as a pilot for the nation’s first rating system for green landscape design, construction and maintenance.

The Sustainable Sites Initiative will pilot more than 150 projects in the United States, Canada, Iceland and Spain to evaluate its new rating system for sustainable landscapes, anticipated to be analogous to the US Green Building Council’s LEED Green Building ratings. The Initiative is a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden.

Shoemaker Green was chosen as a pilot project based on its numerous environmentally friendly elements. Plans by Andropogon Associates, a Philadelphia-based landscape architecture design firm, call for green space to replace the paved tennis courts that now lie in a 3.75-acre site off 33rd Street surrounded by the Palestra, Franklin Field and the David Rittenhouse Laboratories. The site is classified as a grey field—previously urbanized land—where storm water drainage is a major issue. This project, while creating a new open space for the campus, will also improve water quality, minimize runoff, restore biomass to the site and increase local biodiversity with habitat planting and use of living soils. By replacing paved surfaces with landscaping, it will also reduce the urban heat island effect.

The proposed design demonstrates the Penn’s commitment to sustainable site management as one of the goals of its Climate Action Plan (Almanac September 29, 2009). It establishes the framework for introducing sustainable practices into Penn’s campus and tying these practices into the living and learning environment.

Penn will construct a new tennis complex with even more courts as part of the 24-acre Penn Park project expansion eastward towards Center City.  Shoemaker Green, as one of the campus’s open spaces, will provide a key link between the University’s core and Penn Park (Almanac November 10, 2009.)

The Sustainable Sites Initiative plans to use feedback from the pilot phase of these selected projects to revise its final rating system and reference guide by early 2013. The US Green Building Council, a stakeholder in the Initiative, anticipates incorporating the guidelines and performance benchmarks into future iterations of its LEED Green Building Rating System.

In the Campus Master Plan (Almanac February 27, 2001), this space was initially referred to as Palestra Green, however, in October 2008, as Alvin V. Shoemaker, W’60, became an emeritus trustee after decades of service to Penn, the University named the space Shoemaker Green in his honor. During his tenure as Penn’s Trustee chair (1986-1994), he co-chaired the record-breaking $1.4 billion Campaign for Penn and chaired the search that resulted in the appointment of Judith Rodin as Penn’s president. Considered a legendary figure who has made a lasting impact across the campus, Mr. Shoemaker has donated $2 million for athletic strategic priorities in addition to gifts of scholarships, a chair in anthropology, and a gift for the creation of Huntsman Hall, among other gifts to his alma mater.


Related: A Winter Training Home for Penn Athletics to Rise in Penn Park


Almanac - July 13, 2010, Volume 57, No. 01