How to Convert Urban Land into the Coolest Place for a Picnic

by Skelly Holmbeck, Advanced GeoServices & BCONE Regional Council

Walk out the eighth floor of Brandywine Realty Trust’s dazzling Evo Tower in Philadelphia and you encounter Cira Green – an urban park extraordinaire with over an acre of rolling green space suited for  strolls, picnics, and events with a fabulous city view. 

Plateaued between two “vertical neighborhoods” (more on that later), Cira Green is the striking, dog friendly green space that transforms a parking garage into an urban gem.  Conceived by Jerry Sweeney, Brandywine’s President and CEO, Cira Green and the entire LEED certified Cira Centre are the kind of sustainable innovation that is rejuvenating Philadelphia’s city scape.  This is sustainable urban redevelopment at its best.  

The technology under the park maximizes the ability of this space to serve as a stormwater management system that stores excess rainwater in a cistern, and reuses it to water grass, plants and trees on Cira Green.  This is a self-contained ecosystem that does not generate stormwater runoff.  The Delaware Valley Green Building Council recognized this site with its Groundbreaker Award. 

You do not have to live here to enjoy this space – it is open to the public, as long as you don’t bring more than 500 of your friends at once (maximum occupancy permitted on Cira Green is 500).


Paul Commito, Brandywine Realty Trust Senior Vice President and incoming Chair of the Philadelphia District Council of the Urban Land Institute, shared the story of this site and other innovative brownfield developments as Keynote speaker for the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast’s Sustainable Communities Workshop on May 25, 2017.

Adjacent to Cira Green is Evo Tower, the tallest “dorm” in the country, as well as FMC tower, a LEED Gold certified “vertical neighborhood” with more than 1 Million square feet of space on less than one acre of land that is home to FMC corporation, additional office space, ultra-luxury residences, hotel suites, a 72 foot pool, fitness center, theater, and a world class restaurant and a bar (run by Michelin star rated Rebelle from NYC).


In May, the Brookings Institute released a report on the challenges and opportunities facing Philadelphia’s standing as an international leader: “Connect to compete: How the University City-Center City innovation district can help Philadelphia excel globally and serve locally”.  The University City-Center City innovation district, where the Cira Centre is located, is an area where Brandywine is teaming with Drexel and local communities to promote economic growth and innovative research. Brookings cites Brandywine’s collaborative work as one of the major projects positioning the City for explosive growth: “Brandywine Realty Trust and Drexel are set to break ground on the Schuylkill Yards development in 2017, which…is envisioned to hold nearly 5 million new square feet of mixed-use space focused on connecting the private, public, and non-profit areas through innovation.”

The Report notes:

Research shows Philadelphia’s chance of becoming a top-tier city—with the attendant firms, jobs, revenues, and innovations that status would bring to the city and region—cannot hinge on individual acts or institutions. Given its assets and the progress it has already made, it is clear Philadelphia can rise to this collective challenge. With federal and state funding receding and the next-generation technologies that will determine the competitive cities of the future in rapid development, now is the time for Philadelphia’s leaders to fulfill the city’s full potential.

The Brandywine Realty Trust team, with their ability to transform urban sites into sustainable, multi-faceted, world class communities, is leading the way. 

The Northeast Sustainable Communities Workshop brought together over 300 brownfield experts at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. 

For more information, contact:

Skelly Holmbeck
Senior Consultant
610.840.9153