Picking up a quick lunch near HUP is easy, but finding a nearby peaceful area in which to eat it is not as simple. But that’s about to change. A new landscaped plaza across the street from the hospital will offer a much-needed respite from the hustle and bustle of hospital life. Located on the site of the current parking lot between 33rd and 34th Streets, the space will soon be “an extension of the University’s green initiative,” said Marc Cooper, project manager in the University’s Facilities & Real Estate Services Division, which will oversee the project.
Pavers will form a walkway around a central mounded area of grass planted with ornamental trees. “The pavers are permeable so rain water will easily pass through the joints and filter down to the stone beneath, a sustainable green feature,” Cooper said.
Safety and security issues were also addressed in the plaza’s planning. Currently, many people jaywalk across 34th to access the food carts in this area. As part of the renovation, a fence will run within the perimeter’s dense planting, with two openings into the plaza: the corners of 33rd and Spruce and 34th and Spruce. “This directs people to safely cross the intersections,” said Bryan Heigh of UPHS Real Estate, Design and Construction. The sidewalks that currently border the parking lot on 33rd and 34th will be eliminated.
The plaza will be well-lit and kept under surveillance via closed circuit TV camera by the University’s Department of Public Safety. There will also be an emergency phone. No smoking will be allowed.
Work preparing the Franklin Field lot for the food carts has already started. “In late May, we expect to relocate the food carts to the new site,” Cooper said. Signs will be installed to coincide with their relocation. “We want the vendors to be successful.”
Once the carts are moved, the parking lot will be closed down, and work will begin, transforming it into a green space. Completion of the plaza is anticipated for November.
While work progresses on the new plaza, another component of the project will focus on the median that separates 33rd and 34th Streets in front of Penn Tower. Right now, no real provision exists at mid-block to cross those streets safely. Openings among the planted yew bushes allow multiple opportunities to jaywalk in crossing to and from the hospital.
The new plan calls for a marked mid-block pedestrian crossing right across the street from the walkway leading to the University City train station. The rest of the median will be landscaped, with a fence down the middle to encourage people to use the specified crossing.” A signal –- with either flashing yellow lights or a full-blown traffic light -– will be added to increase safety. Work on the median landscaping is scheduled to start in July, with completion in November.