November 6, 2009
Dear Members of our University Community:
This afternoon, I had the distinct privilege of joining with Penn Trustees, community leaders, and members of our campus community in breaking ground on Penn Park, the centerpiece of the University’s Penn Connects master development plan.
We call the plan Penn Connects because—while meeting the University's development needs through environmentally sustainable growth that will propel Penn from excellence to eminence as a research and teaching institution—it also will physically connect University City to Center City Philadelphia and help revitalize the region.
Stretching along the West bank of the Schuylkill River, Penn Park will take 24 acres of land that for far too long have been buried under barren asphalt and concrete and transform them into an urban ribbon of green. Instead of parking lots and storage sheds, Penn Park will offer athletic fields, a tennis center and inviting pedestrian walkways to the Penn community and the general public.
When completed in 2011, Penn Park will be one of the most visible expressions of our Penn Connects plan for the future. It will increase Penn's role in bringing new life to the area, spurring commercial development along the Walnut Street corridor, and complete William Penn's historic plan to create a "green country towne."
No other urban campus has done something this transforming. In keeping with Penn's pledge to be the greenest campus in America, we are proud that the project will increase the University’s green space by 20 percent. Penn Park will provide the campus with 24 acres of environmentally sustainable land. Its native grasses, trees and shrubs will help clean the city air and heal the Schuylkill River. I am particularly proud that during the construction phase of this landmark project we will be recycling and reusing all the asphalt, cobblestones and granite that we excavate.
Through landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh's world-class design, Penn Park will place the University, once again, at the forefront of innovative land use and responsible urban development. I also want to recognize the dedication of all the members of the Penn community who have over the years nurtured and guided this project to fruition, including Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate Services Anne Papageorge, University Architect David Hollenberg, Principal Planner Mark Kocent, Project Manager Marc Cooper and Athletic Director Steve Bilsky.
Like Locust Walk, Woodland Walk and Blanche Levy Park, the construction of Penn Park will transform Penn’s campus and our city for generations to come. I look forward to sharing the pleasure of these positive changes with you.