Jul 30, 2014

Philly U. Dreams Big With Gorgas Park

Students present projects on Roxborough park.

Philly U. Dreams Big With Gorgas Park Philly U. Dreams Big With Gorgas Park Philly U. Dreams Big With Gorgas Park Philly U. Dreams Big With Gorgas Park

Roxborough residents heard grandiose plans Thursday, as Philadelphia University students presented conceptual designs for a future .

Working with second and third-year landscape architect majors, the Friends of Gorgas Park tasked students to present big plans for the Ridge Avenue gathering place.

"The way this project came about, the Friends of Gorgas Park were looking for a 'vision plan' and asked our students to dream big. They asked us for a 21st century park," professor Nate Hommel said at a presentation. 

The students walked through the park in January, and spent the semester's first half drafting plans and modeling what an updated Gorgas would look like. Hommel said the students could alter the park as they liked, with the restriction to keep the war memorial and gazebo. On Thursday, they brought their plans back to the community.

Focuses varied from the dozen or so presentations. Some students emphasized the rolling hills and high elevation; others spotlighted the war memorial. Working off the 21st century model, many students introduced environmentally conscious designs.

Some plans included:

  • An underground tunnel or aerial bridge
  • An amphitheater built into the hill
  • Terrace gardens
  • Community farming
  • Impervious pavements
  • A dogpark 

Different from normal classroom assignments, the Gorgas Park project allowed students to apply the theoretical with the real world.

Originally from India, Kabir Punde said he enjoyed meeting the multiple challenges the park's unorthodox topography presented. But the community engagement made it the most rewarding.

"This is great because you get to engage with the people who have a history here, have emotions about it, and are ones who will get to use it," Punde said.

Hommel said the project was particularly unique, as the Friends of Gorgas Park were so receptive.

"After our walk in January, I'm impressed with how much you absorbed from the park. The plans look great," said.

The university will make available to the park all documents, so Gorgas could one day put to life what the students dreamt up.

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