Those entering University City via the South Street Bridge will soon have a half-acre green space to enjoy instead of a parking lot.

Construction is now underway on the $2.5M Spruce Street Plaza between 33rd and 34th Streets along Spruce in front of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. When it’s completed this winter, according to a Penn spokesperson, the plaza will feature benches, lighting, seasonal landscaping, decorative paving, a lawn area and lighting. Plans for the former asphalt Lot #8, owned by Penn, were created by a collaboration between Matthews Nielsen Landscape Architects and Urban Engineers. The project is cofunded by Penn Facilities and Real Estate Services and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Under construction

“Transformation of this prominent gateway to the campus and West Philadelphia beyond has long been a dream of University trustees and administrators,” said University Architect David Hollenberg. “It’s a thrill that it’s finally happening, and on the heels of other recent open space accomplishments like the refurbishing of Locust Walk, and the creation of Penn Park and Shoemaker Green.”

In the past

In the future

Love the creepy rendering people

The project also aims to establish the parking spaces in Lot #6, located at the southwest corner of Franklin Field, as a new location for food vendors, who have already moved from lot eight.

The blocks around 32nd and 33rd Streets in University City are definitely undergoing a transformation before our eyes. There’s the new Drexel School of Business coming to 32nd and Market and the 19-story residential tower Drexel’s building and branded as its gateway to University City at 32nd and Chestnut. Plus, rumors continue to percolate that Cira Centre South is coming soon.

It’s nice to see a parking lot transformed into a true public space in this location. Though Penn has tons of green space nearby, this area seems destined to be used principally by HUP staff, patients and visitors who may not wish to stray too far from home. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

–Lou Mancinelli