Heads up, Philadelphia! Dilworth Plaza is about to be transformed. Under the stewardship of the Center City District, Dilworth Plaza, the open area on the west side of City Hall, which has recently served solely as a pedestrian thoroughfare, will become an inviting park. It will feature greenspace, public art installations, a cafe, a fountain, performance areas, a large lawn, bench and table seating, outdoor markets, and a seasonal ice rink. A team of internationally reknowned designers and architects including Kieran Timberlake, OLIN, Urban Engineers, and CVM structural engineers are engaged to complete the work over the next two years.
In his original vision of Philadelphia as a “Greene Country Towne”, William Penn mapped out five parks throughout the city. Now known as Rittenhouse Square, Logan Square, Washington Square, Franklin Square and Center Square (where Dilworth Plaza now sits), these spaces were created to ensure that Penn’s vision for the City of Brotherly Love was realized and preserved . There is now a move afoot to restore Dilworth Plaza as modern version of Penn’s ideal by redesigning it as a well-planned and maintained civic space linking the various sectors of the City while providing a pleasant park-like atmosphere in this spot.
Plan Philly offers a detailed version of the process here. In its customarily thorough fashion, The Center City District conducted over 40 meetings to gather input from stakeholders. They have successfully shepherded this project through toward approval. For information on funding and other project specs, see the CCD fact sheet. For Janet Echelman’s incredible vision for the public art installation, watch this.
The current layout of the Plaza, which consists of concrete interspersed with a few trees, is not particularly inviting. The changing elevations of the square, along with the areas with poor visibility make the space appear unwelcoming.
The Center City District’s plan will change that.
Starting with vastly expanding the greenspace in the Plaza, as pictured above, the CCD’s plans for the plaza include the following goals:
- Eliminate all walls, barriers, stairs, and multi-level structures to create a one-level open space.
- Enhance and frame the views of City Hall with strategic use of landscaping, siting, and architecture.
- Create a sustainable, green gathering place with a fountain that can be programmed to accommodate a wide variety of events, e.g turned off during concerts, turned on during festivals.
- Install attractive, user-friendly, accessible entrances to public transit.
- Create high profile, high visibility communication media that showcase the history of Center Square and City Hall, the public art, and other nearby attractions and amenities.
- Form a solidly funded management organization that will maintain the Plaza and maximize its potential.
Imagine what proximity to this urban parkspace will do to property values! Makes me want to run right out and buy a Center City Condo. The Ritz Residence will benefit from this new park as will Phoenix.
Images prepared by Kieran Timberlake and OLIN, used here courtesy of the CCD.