About Us Updates Awards FAQs Participants Funders
Why Sustainable Sites Hydrology Soils Vegetation Materials Human Health & Well-being
Certified Projects Pilot Program Selected Projects Pilot Resources
Overview 2009 Rating System
Contact Us Get Involved News Releases Email Updates Presentations

Birdseye view from Franklin Field

Shoemaker Green

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Size & Type of Project:
2.84 acres, Open space - Park

Certification Level:
Two Star

Site Context:

Former Land Use:

Terrestrial Biome:
Temperate Broadleaf & Mixed Forests


Project Overview

Shoemaker Green is located immediately east of 33rd Street between Walnut and Spruce Streets on the University of Pennsylvania campus, and is a major component of the east-west connection between the central campus and Penn Park, serving as a new continuation of the Locust Walk / Smith Walk corridor. The site is surrounded by two of the University's most iconic athletic facilities - the Palestra and Franklin Field, and serves as the "front door" to these historic structures. Shoemaker Green's program is mainly passive recreation, but the site has the ability to adapt for multiple events and activities with a wide range of scales, from secluded areas to eat lunch to staging areas for the Penn Relays and graduation. By way of carrying over the essence of College Green, while still retaining a character all its own, the site is the heart of Penn's eastward expansion. Shoemaker Green also serves as a model for sustainable campus design. Through the innovative use of a variety of strategies and technologies, the design of Shoemaker Green has been optimized to capture and control stormwater from the site and surrounding rooftops, provide viable native plant and animal habitats, minimize transportation of materials to and from the site, and serve as a starting point for the development of a sustainable maintenance strategy for the University at large.

Regional Context

The project sits on an urban site within the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, in what is known as the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The site has gently sloping topography with grades less than 5 percent. No native floodplain geology was encountered on the site. The site has been developed and redeveloped multiple times within the last 100 years and is comprised of more than 30 feet of urban fill. No streams or wetlands exist on the project site; however, an historic stream was previously buried and piped roughly 30 feet below the site. The site is located at a low-point of a large watershed and has had occasional flooding problems.

Entrance to Shoemaker Green from 33rd Street

SITES Features and Practices

Notable sustainable features and strategies of Shoemaker Green include:

1.      Innovative stormwater management and water use reduction implementing a state-of-the-art rainwater system that captures over 90 percent of site stormwater and condensate from an adjacent building. The harvested stormwater is run through a series of natural systems (plantings and soils) before being collected and reused for irrigation water;

2.       Stormwater management (quality and quantity) through ecological base systems

3.       Native plantings;

4.       Recycled materials;

5.       Integrated design feature that connects building HVAC systems to the site irrigation;

6.   Creation of the partnership with the University's academic departments to integrate the site monitoring into the science curriculum.

7.   Use of native plant material and regional materials

In addition, the selected plant communities were tailored to the local climate, region, and site conditions, and the locations of key site features were based on solar aspect and exposure. Monolithic granite used for walls and benches were extremely effective in providing a variety of seating options for users of the space. Soils installed are performing exactly as-designed to support foot traffic on the surface, as well as convey and infiltrate stormwater. Recycled materials were also used whenever possible and a large majority of the existing site materials were upcycled and reused on site.


The project was documented and implemented correctly based on great communication amongst the various team members.

Local and state authorities had stringent regulatory requirements for stormwater management that had to be met. 

Maintenance and Stewardship

The owner will ensure the project goals are maintained through monitoring several site features. The monitoring efforts have been incorporated into the University's cirriculum and will be tracked for many years to come. the information collected from the monitoring will be applied directly to the management of the site.

The use of the SITES rating system has also made an impact on the surrounding campus community and has elevated the awareness of sustainable best management practices. The Shoemaker Green project has been the catalyst for revamping the standards for maintaining the University's landscapes. The Owner has committed to employing the methods used at Shoemaker Green on the rest of the campus.

The University of Pennsylvania's President, Amy Gutmann, has made a series of commitmenets since her inauguration in 2004 to advance the university as a leader in sustainable planning and design, in addition to becoming "a dynamic agent of social, economic, and civic progress" as a member of the Philadelphia and global community. This compact, the Penn Compact and the Penn Connects master plan, along with the signing of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), has focused the University of Pennsylvania to develop a long-term physical plan for the university which extends the learning environment into the landscape, connects the university to the surrounding community, and serves as a model for how universities can be good stewards of our environment, even on a highly urban campus in one of the oldest cities in the country.

In keeping with this commitment, when planning exercises were underway to revive this underutilized space on campus - an area with only aging tennis courts and a few trees - the university wanted to redesign the site using the most innovative green infrastructure technologies. Green Infrastructure, the urban equivalent to low-impact development (LID) design strategies, "is an overall design philosophy based on the implementation of multiple, distributed small-scall controls throughout a development site" (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2002). This pledge also led the project to apply as a pilot project for SITES, and to establish a network of individuals, including Penn professors, students, and Andropogon Associates, whom have joined forces to monitor and track the social, ecological, and economic performance of Shoemaker Green for a mimimum of five years. It is aniticpated that the incorporation of site monitoring into the curriculum will extend the monitoring of this site beyond the mimimum period required by SITES.

The site monitoring plan developed for the Shoemaker Green project includes: 

Students enjoying the quiet between classes

Site Challenges

As with most urban sites, the myriad of pre-exiting utilities and old foundations proved tricky to design around, especially considering that the various stormwater capture and storage features were installed in and around existing subterranean features.

In addition, there were several existing buildings that flanked the site and had muliple entrances at various elevations. Another prominent feature included an historic War Memorial located on the southwest corner of the site.

There were no existing soils to work with due to the fact that over 70 percent of the existing site was impervious. The little soil that was there was extremely poor, void of any bilogical life, and heavily compacted.  

Project Goals and Successes

SITES has influenced the project by making both the client and contractor aware of sustainble design practices and the level of coordination, communication, and collaboration that has to occur to meet the SITES credit criteria.

The project site has been a great success for the University community. It is used daily all year long for both passive and active, scheduled and unscheduled events. The quality of the craftsmanship combined with the performance of ecological systems bolsters Shoemaker Green as a model for how to develop functional landscapes in our urban centers. 

The overarching goals of the project were:  

  1. Creation of open space that had the "DNA" of Penn's historic College Green.
  2. Flexibility for the site to accommodate numerous events and uses that vary in scale. These uses include graduation, The Penn Relays, movies and concerts, sporting events, outdoor classroom spaces, and passive recreation.
  3. Creation of a performance-based landscape that is beautiful and functional.
  4. Demonstrating sustainable design practices and implementation techniquies
  5. Creation of new management guidelines based on new sustainable practices and data obtained through the site monitoring program.

Lessons Learned

Using high-end materials on a project can skew the costs and make the achievement of certain SITES materials credits difficult.

Project Team

Andropogon Associates

Jose Alminana, RLA, Principal-in-Charge

Tom Amoroso, RLA, Project Manager


University of Pennsylvania

Marc Cooper, Project Manager


Meliora Design 

Michele Adams, P.E., Civil Engineer (Stormwater)


Craul Land Scientists 

Tim Craul, CPSSC, Soil Scientist


Tillett Lighting Design 

Linnaea Tillett, Lighting Designer



Omar Rosa, P.E. Civil Engineer (Utilities)


Mulhern Consulting Engineers 

Norman Moore, Jr., P.E., Electrical Engineer


Keast & Hood

Patrick Fair, P.E., Structural Engineer


Irrigation Consulting 

Brian Vinchesi, Irrigation Designer


PAgnes, Inc.

Mike Thompson, General Contractor