DesignPhiladelphia: renovating Dilworth Plaza

An exhibit that is part of DesignPhiladelphia features the innovative designs to make Philly's Dilworth Plaza a more user-friendly (and more beautiful) green space for residents.
Written by Beth Carter, Contributing Editor

Dilworth Plaza in downtown Philadelphia, designed in the 1970s as part of an urban renewal project, may look familiar. It's been making the news recently, and not just because it is the home of Occupy Philly's tent city.

The plaza, located on the west side of Philadelphia's historic city hall, is going to be torn up for a complete transformation this month. The question as to where will the occupiers go when the bulldozers come has yet to be determined.

The project received funding through the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program and is is scheduled for a major face-lift, and overview of the planned renovation is featured as part of DesignPhiladelphia and will be shown through November 18, 2011 at the Art Gallery at Philadelphia City Hall.

The park, a mess of granite walls and stairs, had many appearance-based as well as logistical issues that needed to be taken care of. The stark granite surfaces surfaces, confusing and inaccessible level changes, no clear entrance to the transit center below the square were cited to be among the problems.

In the 1600s William Penn envisioned the space to be Philadelphia's cultural and commercial center, and the new design hopes to bring Dilworth Plaza more in line with Penn's vision.

The project was designed by Philadelphia-based architecture and landscape architecture firms OLIN and KieranTimberlake, and is being carried out with the help of the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts Culture & the Creative Economy and the Center City District.

According to Core 77's Ilyssa Shapiro, the fountain will be the main attraction, as a "celebration of the location's history as the city's first public fountain and pumping station." The new fountain can be programmed to become a fountain or paved surface. This paved surface feature will be able to accommodate a variety of activities including concerts, markets and a winter ice-rink.

As a water feature, the space will fill with water, mist and lights that will follow the subway tracks below as part of artist Janet Echelman's permanent installation.

The new plaza is expected to be completed by early 2014 and aside from the fountain will feature a cafe, a large grass area, tree groves and space for events to liven up the area. It will also feature a glass entrance to the transportation center below.

[Via Core77 Design]

Photos: CCD Philadelphia/Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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