Philadelphia Navy Yards Central Green
The Navy Yards Central Green Park be located in the heart of the Central Green District to provide an interactive green space to tenants and visitors. The Central Green Park is planned as a five-acre, five-sided, open space with Rouse Blvd on its northeast edge. James Corner Field Operations, the landscape architecture firm famous for designing New York City’s High Line, led the creative team behind Central Green.
The park design features a wide variety of amenities for everyone, including an outdoor theatre; an interactive center with a 1/5 mile social ring for active users to run and walk; an interactive climbing and slide experience; a sun lawn with a plethora of chaise loungers; a hammock grove; flexible space for either planned or pick-up events such as movie showings, concerts, kite flying and Frisbee; a connection to the extensive network of the Philadelphia Bike Route system; and more.
Central Green was developed by Liberty Property Trust, Synterra, and PIDC for $9.6 million to both ground their rising commercial buildings in a strong public realm, and offer new recreation amenities for the 11,000-and-growing Navy Yard workforce. As the first major public space designed to support the commercial (and maybe someday residential) growth at the Navy Yard, Central Green is also a mile marker in the site’s evolution.
Central Green is the lush cousin to some of the Navy Yard’s more unbuttoned office environments nearby. Like those, it’s structured but not formal, its spaces are playful and multipurpose. The only suits here may be retro jumpsuits from Urban Outfitters.
Field Operations used circles as the dominant design motif to define Central Green’s different spaces, each one offset by different tones of permeable paths. In plan the design looks like a Petri dish dotted with biogrowth, the rim of which is a “Social Track” – literally a .2 mile track lined with wood and metal lounge chairs and benches – that neatly rings a series of round rooms toward the park’s interior.
Each major circle features a different environment: a fitness station, amphitheater/”sun lawn” (hiding storage and bathrooms below rising stairs), a hammock grove, bocce courts, ping-pong tables, a huge communal table, and a “bio basin” for stormwater. The effect is a series of richly different spaces that make space for diverse uses.
Central Green’s active design packs a lot in, and in so doing feels full even when the space is void of people, but its lawns also offer breathing room. Walk across the park and you find yourself on circuitous paths that make the space feel larger than it is, a feeling further enhanced by the subtle changes in grade from wildflower-covered mounds and the stormwater retention pond’s dip.
Look across the park and the landscape is already surprisingly mature. Cornflowers and catmint nod in the breeze as pines and river birch rustle. There are 304 trees, 42 types of groundcover, 10,105 shrubs, and more than 13,600 bulbs.
Features that aren’t growing and green, permeable paving in grays, or warm wood grained slats, are yellow – a hot canary yellow that pops in the landscape. The effect is at once energizing, cheery, and instantly branded. Every opportunity to add Central Green’s particular shade of yellow – very similar to the Race Street Connector signage in font and hue – has been optimized from the movable bistro tables and clusters of Adirondack chairs on the lawns, to the ping-pong tables and fitness zone equipment.
Areas for active recreation and play are matched with spaces for both serene quiet and convivial gatherings. Bucking the site plan’s circular vocabulary, a long X-shaped table can be used for picnics or company meetings. Nearby a grove of conifers meant to evoke the Pine Barrens in miniature is threaded with a cluster of yellow hammocks, a woodland refuge from the workday.
These zones are a deliberate, outdoor expression of the way many creatives work these days. They’re complements to work environments that allow people space for creative expression and an active lifestyle that supports happier, healthier, harder workers.
This workforce has choices. And increasingly it’s saying no to dullsville cubicles and research park life. Instead top talent and growing companies are opting for urban locations that boast a good quality of life and robust public amenities. It’s on those grounds that the Navy Yard hopes to compete, and gain an edge.
James Corner Field Operations:
Field Operations has designed the 5-acre Central Green at the heart of the Philadelphia Navy Yard Corporate Center. The site was historically marked by wetlands, meadows, and bird habitat and is growing into Philadelphia’s most innovative and progressive corporate neighborhood.
The design unites the cutting edge urban potential of the site with its native habitat, resulting in a new type of environment that is sustainable, green, and natural as well as social, active, and urban. A 20-ft wide Social Track organizes the site’s circulation and frames a unique, immersive interior park featuring flowering meadows, a hammock grove, an outdoor amphitheater, bocce courts, and fitness stations.
Project name: Navy Yards Central Green
Location: 4747 South Broad Street #120, Philadelphia, PA 19112, United States
Coordinates: 39.893883, -75.171189
Project Area: 5-acre
Cost: $7.4 million
Completion Date/Year: 2015
Client / Owner / Developer: Liberty Property Trust, Synterra Partners, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation
Landscape Architects: James Corner Field Operations – New York, United States
Project Manager: Sarah Weidner Astheimer, Senior Associate
Project Designers: Matt Grunbaum, Associate, Kimberly Cooper, Associate, Sanjukta Sen
Architectural and Structural Engineer: Environetics
Horticulture: Larry Weaner Design Associates
Civil and Utilities Engineer: Pennoni
Soils Engineering: Tim Craul
General Contractor: Bittenbender Construction
Landscape Contractor: Caramonico
Excavator: JPC Group, Inc.
Concrete: Molly Construction, Inc., Nova Crete
Text Description: © Courtesy of James Corner Field Operations, bslxnavyyard, navyyard.org, phillymag
Images: © James Corner Field Operations, Halkin Mason Photography