MVVA worked around daunting physical constraints to transform a 24-acre industrial wasteland into a large public park that doubles as a green front door and athletic hub for the University of Pennsylvania. Built on a site almost 30 feet below street level and hemmed in by infrastructure, including several rail lines, the park employs large sculptural landforms that facilitate connections to the city at grade while also serving as acoustic barriers and providing places for visitors to gather and explore.
The project bridges the divide between Penn and Philadelphia, demonstrating the ability of parks on formerly marginal sites to transcend urban boundaries.
Soft existing soils required extensive geotechnical engineering to support the proposed topography. Concrete columns with a base reinforced through vibration and reinforced granular load transfer mats were utilized to support the landforms along the rail tracks and highway.
The park employs sustainable strategies like the repurposing of salvaged materials, minimizing light pollution with covered light fixtures, and reducing the use of potable water for irrigation and improving the replenishment of groundwater.