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November 09, 2015

Philly's first 'elevated park' unveiled in University City

Cira Greene offers view of skyline 95 feet above street level

Parks Sustainability
11092015_cira_green_BRT1 Credit/

Cira Green at Cira Centre South features "blue roof" areas: rain-collecting cisterns under paved walking surfaces direct that water into planted “green roof” areas. The system reduces greatly the amount of stormwater in the public sewer system.

Philadelphia's first "elevated park" was unveiled Monday in University City, providing a green space along the Schuylkill River that thrives on a sustainable rainwater drainage system, according to the developers.

Brandywine Realty Trust debuted the 1.25-acre Cira Greene at Cira Centre South that hovers, so to speak, 95 feet above street level, giving patrons a bird's-eye view of the Center City skyline and University City.

Here's how the park works, according to Brandywine: "blue roof" containers under paved sections of the park accumulate rainwater. Those cisterns direct the water into "green roof" containers underneath the grass areas, feeding the foliage.


Cira Green at Cira Centre South is Philadelphia's first elevated park, 95 feet above street level in University City. (Source:

The thinking is the planted areas aren't limited to benefiting from only as much rainwater as they can directly absorb, and the paved areas are utilized in a way they typically aren't in traditional "green roof" systems that leave them unable to take the drainage.

It's also supposed to reduce the amount of storm water that flows into the sewer system by increasing the amount of time the water contacts the soil, reducing the amount of harmful chemicals making their way into the watershed.


Cira Green at Cira Centre South is Philadelphia's first elevated park, 95 feet above street level in University City. (Source:

The park will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. during summer months and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. the rest of the year. It will however sometimes be closed for private events and inclement weather.

In addition to Cira Greene, Brandywine will be opening Philly's first "vertical neighborhood" next door at the FMC Tower, complete with 360-degree views of the city, an outdoor terrace 415 feet aboive the city's streets, a golf simulator and a host of other amenities.

It will include apartments and retail space. Residencies are expected to start taking tenants in the third quarter of 2016, according to a Brandywine spokesperson. More info on that here: