How Grounds Can Make a Welcoming First Impression
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia used stunning outdoor spaces to create a welcoming public face, as well as make the facility more resilient.
On a former industrial site along Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River, a new research campus for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) foregrounds an inviting and resilient public realm — while providing a flexible framework that allows for long-term development of up to 2 million square feet of clinical research uses. Planned and designed by Cooper Robertson, the 8.55-acre campus had to meet a number of important and overlapping goals: Create a welcoming public face for CHOP, buffer the scale of the new campus in relation to the rest of the community, and support the resiliency of the site and the neighborhood in the event of flooding. The solution was four distinct public open spaces totaling 4.55 acres: South Street Plaza, Schuylkill Avenue Green, a Promenade overlooking Schuylkill River, and Bainbridge Place.
Bainbridge Place serves as the campus “front door” along Schuylkill Avenue. Flexible seating and children’s play areas flank an open plaza that can host special events. The entrance is on a bus line and just seven minutes from a commuter rail station. Frank Garnier, Ground Reconsidered
Overlooking the Schuylkill River, South Street Plaza’s custom granite pavers and a variety of seating options offer an appealing pedestrian environment with gardens and walkways.
The custom-designed wood benches surround raised planters and sit under a canopy of shade trees, providing seating for CHOP employees and area residents alike. The benches and paths are shaped to reflect the sinuous form of the Schuylkill River.
No Wasted Space:
A grand processional stair with a series of planted terraces gives form to the sloped site. Gentle ramps allow for wheelchair access, and the terraced seating areas turn this otherwise transitional zone into a public amenity.