Shoemaker Green at the University of Pennsylvania 33rd Street between Walnut and Spruce Streets • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Andropogon Associates Ltd; Meliora Design LLC


University of Pennsylvania
Shoemaker Green
Shoemaker Green
Shoemaker Green
Shoemaker Green
Shoemaker Green

Utility Goals

Reduce pollutant loads in rainwater
Reduce downstream damage from runoff
Safely move, control, contain rainwater
Capture rain for reuse (of all kinds, human and natural, from irrigation and toilet flushing to groundwater recharge)
Restore or create habitat


The basic stormwater management concept at Shoemaker Green is convey, cleanse, and infiltrate or reuse for irrigation. The stormwater concept reduced existing impervious surfaces by 49% and was designed so that 86% of rainwater flows from surrounding buildings down walkways where it is intercepted by perpendicular trench drains and conveyed either to the lawn or to the rain garden.  The grassy lawn is actually an infiltration basin that accepts runoff from trench drains (and, in summer, air conditioning condensate), then a network of drain pipes conveys it to a 20,000 gallon cistern.  While this stormwater management component doesn’t clearly “read” on the site, the rain garden’s role is very clear: trench drains cross sidewalks to feed the rain garden through visible curb cuts and a visible water trail; the rain garden then biofilters and infiltrates in a 2-cell basin system.  Rain that is not adsorbed or absorbed by plants and soil is harvested in the cistern for reuse in site irrigation. 

Amenity Goals

Public Relations
Aesthetic Richness


Shoemaker Green succeeds in presenting the traditional feel of a college quad while adding a low-key celebration of rain: visible water trails clearly lead into the rain garden, where a “stream” and “tributaries” of white river stones highlight the rain’s meandering as it flows into the rain garden basins, with the main stream tumbling merrily over a stone weir.  The design takes advantage of the site’s slope down to 33rd Street and places the rain garden at the low point, an eye-catching focal point for all who pass by.