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UPenn landscape project named pilot for national ratings system

On the road to a more sustainable future, Pennsylvania’s community planners have made some unlikely detours, finding possibilities for renovation in everything from rowhomes to fat-fryers. Now, the University of Pennsylvania has found a new greening opportunity beneath six old tennis courts on the legendary Palestra lawn. And their proposed landscape project is garnering national attention from green activists and green thumbs alike.

Penn's landscapers are calling the proposed park Shoemaker Green and expect it will replace the aging tennis courts by 2012. With environmentally friendly features like native plants and storm water runoff irrigation, Shoemaker Green has been recognized as a pilot by the Sustainable Sites Initiative, a collaborative effort to create a ratings system for sustainable landscaping. The Penn project joins over 150 sites in four countries named to exemplify proper sustainable landscape design.

“We are delighted to be a part of it because we wanted sustainability goals to be a part of this anyway,” says Penn architect David Hollenberg. “Many of the things the application called for are things that we are doing at Penn already so we thought it would be interesting to put what we are doing through this national filter.”

The Sustainable Sites Initiative calls not only for environmentally friendly features but for responsible and intelligent site design as well. Removing the six tennis courts, which now sit off of 33rd Street, surrounded by the Palestra, Franklin Field and the David Rittenhouse Laboratories, will allow for increased open space and improved local water quality.

But tennis lovers need not fret. The new site plan calls for 12 tennis courts and walking paths right alongside the plants and open spaces, creating a city park atmosphere out of this former tennis field.

“Because it’s a pilot, the list they generated was supposed to be representative of the whole range of site design possibilities instead of focusing on just one,” says Hollenberg. “Ours of course is urban and institutional but there are residential things and parks out in the middle of nowhere. It’s very diverse, as it should be. At the end of this, they will have a very nuanced version of what this scoring system should be.”

You can check out information on all the sites participating in the SSI Pilot Program here.

Source: David Hollenberg, University of Pennsylvania
Writer: John Steele

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