CONTEXT - Spring 2022

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ARENEW; Washington, DC 540.341.4988 Johns Hopkins Health Center Suburban Campus; Bethesda, MD

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IN THIS ISSUE, we explore the gigantic projects that are transforming 21st-century Philadelphia, looking not only at what we are.doing, but how we are doing it.



14 The Park at Penn’s Landing and the Future of Public Space by Julie Donofrio



20 To Change the Parkway, We Must Change Ourselves by Diana Lind

ON THE COVER Cover Art by Frank Garnier, Ground Reconsidered.

24 Once the Black Bottom by John L. Puckett

CONTEXT is published by

A Chapter of the American Institute of Architects 1218 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 215-569-3186, The opinions expressed in this – or the representations made by advertisers, including copyrights and warranties, are not those of the editorial staff, publisher, AIA Philadelphia, or AIA Philadelphia’s Board of Directors. All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or whole without written permission is strictly prohibited.

28 The Next Big Thing by Tya Winn, Alan Greenberger, and Shalimar Thomas

Postmaster: send change of address to AIA Philadelphia, 1218 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 Published APRIL 2022

Suggestions? Comments? Questions? Tell us what you think about the latest issue of CONTEXT magazine by emailing A member of the CONTEXT editorial committee will be sure to get back to you.

AIA Philadelphia | context | SPRING 2022 1

OCT. 12 - OCT. 23 NEW THIS YEAR Pay only $300* when you register your DesignPhiladelphia event on or before May 20th. After May 20th registration increases to $500. *To qualify for Early Bird Pricing, you must submit payment along with your event title and a one sentence description of your event by May 20th.

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2022 BOARD OF DIRECTORS Jeff Goldstein, FAIA, President Rob Fleming, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, President-Elect Robert Shuman, AIA, LEED AP, Treasurer Soha St. Juste, AIA, Past President Rich Vilabrera, Jr., Assoc. AIA, Secretary Brian Smiley, AIA, CDT, LEED BD+C, Director of Sustainability + Preservation Phil Burkett, AIA, WELL AP, LEED AP NCARB, Director of Firm Culture + Prosperity Erick Oskey, AIA, Director of Technology + Innovation Erin Roark, AIA, LEED AP, Director of Equity, Diversity + Inclusion Fátima Olivieri - Martínez, AIA, Director of Design Kevin Malawski, AIA, LEED AP, Director of Advocacy Fauzia Sadiq Garcia, Director of Education Timothy A. Kerner, AIA, LEED AP, Director of Professional Development Danielle DiLeo Kim, AIA, Director of Strategic Engagement Michael Johns, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP, Director of Equitable Communities Clarissa Kelsey, AIA, At-Large Director Sophia Lee, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP B+C, At-Large Director Scott Compton, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, AIA PA Representative Mike Penzel, Assoc. AIA, Director of Philadelphia Emerging Architects Ross Silverman, Assoc. AIA, LEED Green Associate, SEED, Director of Philadelphia Emerging Architects Tya Winn, NOMA, LEED Green Associate, SEED, Public Member Kenneth Johnson, Esq., MCP, AIA, NOMA, PhilaNOMA Representative Rebecca Johnson, Executive Director

CONTEXT EDITORIAL BOARD CO-CHAIRS Harris M. Steinberg, FAIA, Drexel University Todd Woodward, AIA, SMP Architects


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BIG Things Are Happening in Philadelphia After two years of just trying to get by day to day, we thought that it would be good to step back and focus on the BIG picture—the picture of our shared future. This issue is focused on the BIG projects that are reshaping our city today. This isn’t new. Philadelphia has a history of thinking BIG, starting with William Penn’s plan for the city. Laid out in 1682, that rational and egalitarian grid was two miles across, with hundred-foot-wide boulevards crossing at its center and a public green space in each corner. It became a model for other cities. In the mid-1800s the enormous Fairmount Park was created to help protect the city’s water supply and serve the needs of America’s largest industrial city. It is still the largest urban park in the nation. The Benjamin Franklin Parkway, opened in 1918, cut through the city grid, remaking one of the quadrants of Penn’s plan, to connect City Hall to Fairmount Park and beyond. And in the era of Ed Bacon, Philadelphia transformed Center City, replacing its gigantic downtown railroad stations with equally large precincts for business and commerce and reinventing Society Hill. Today we celebrate these accomplishments, but we also acknowledge the many kinds of social and physical damage that made them possible. In 2022, we are continuing to think BIG, but we are trying to think differently. All of the articles and interviews in the issue address the future of Philadelphia, and they also have the common thread of focusing on the process, not just final outcomes. Julie Donofrio’s essay on Penn’s Landing describes the robust community engagement process that will shape what happens on the waterfront and be a model for future projects. PennPraxis led the effort and recruited other local community organizations to help the designers go directly to the neighbors, instead of asking the neighbors to come to them. Diana Lind’s article on the transformation of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway argues that, in order to truly transform that roadway, we must

start by figuring out our priorities. In some cases, this means changing our collective mindset. The project will not be a success by pleasing everyone, and we must make tough decisions and try to anticipate the future. And John Puckett’s article about a previous BIG project is a cautionary tale about the neighborhood that was erased in order to pave the way for the past and present development along Walnut, Chestnut and Market between 34th and 38th Streets. We like to think that we are doing development differently now, but how can we be sure? We also asked three leaders about the Next Big Thing. They chose not to write about what we build but about living, working, and making connections between the two. We hear Alan Greenberger’s ideas about how we live, and how urban density around transit corridors and in neighborhoods can contribute to the diversity of our city and guide its growth. Tya Winn discusses how we work and how design work has evolved and should continue to evolve from individualism to collaboration. Shalimar Thomas describes the development along North Broad and the important relationship between built infrastructure and human infrastructure. This issue’s profile gets close to Kevin Mahoney, the CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, where a series of enormous projects has culminated in the opening of the new, 504-bed Pavilion. He discusses the visioning that came before and the mobilization that came during the realization of one of the BIGgest undertakings of the millennium. Related to all of this, we have opened up the Design Profiles section to include large scale projects by architects, landscape architects, and planners. We have concentrated on projects that are wide reaching and look likely to change the future of our city. This is an exciting time for Philadelphia. It is our time to think BIG— and differently, too. AIA Philadelphia | context | SPRING 2022 7


Dear Friends and Colleagues, Happy spring. Hope you are enjoying the milder weather and the

our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. I am really impressed

return to a more “normal” spring schedule. We are welcoming in per-

with how much I will take away from this experience. Personally,

son events at the Center and hope to see you there soon.

it was great to have the opportunity to share things I have conscious and unconscious biases about — but also learn new


tactics and strategies to support a culture in my workplace where

We will be hosting our Annual Meeting and Committee Open House

everyone feels valued. Real, lasting change doesn’t happen

event on Thursday, April 28th. The Annual Meeting is a casual, but

overnight, but it can happen in incremental ways over time. I

wonderful way to learn what AIA Philadelphia is working on — you

would encourage anyone who is feeling burnt out by managing

can meet with our Committee Chairs and learn how you can get

people in an ever-evolving and stressful time — to invest in

more involved and share your expertise with our AEC community.

yourself and apply for the next round of Culture Change Initiative. It is well worth your time.

NEW WEBSITE AND ONLINE COMMUNITY LAUNCHED! We are thrilled to have launched our new AIA Philadelphia website,


which also has a robust online community portal. I encourage you


create your personal profile and join the community, or if you get an


invitation to update your firm’s profile, DO IT! It will be a great way to engage with our larger community and promote yourself and your firm. It also makes registering for events, much easier.

Rebecca Johnson Executive Director


AIA Philadelphia

I participated in the inaugural Culture Change Initiative, organized by

Center / Architecture + Design

Coming this April 28th at 5:30 PM, the AIA Philadelphia Annual Meeting and Committee Open House. Attend the annual business meeting and stay to meet with representatives of the nearly 20 committees of AIA Philadelphia and the Center for Architecture and Design. Committees are the lifeblood of our organizations’ and offer the best way to engage with the knowledge experts in the AIA Philadelphia community. This program will be a hybrid in-person event for the business meeting and in-person ONLY for the committee open house. Visit the AIA Philadelphia website and plan to attend. 8 SPRING 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia


Visit the Center for Architecture and Design any time before May 2 to catch the new exhibitions Designing Futures and Future Visionaries: Architecture and Design Education Student Projects 2021. DESIGNING FUTURES Designers from every background and experience level are needed to meet the challenges facing the built environment today, but all design and construction industries have disproportionately low representation among BIPOC and Latinx communities. The Center’s Architecture and Design Education program is aggressively tackling this issue by setting ambitious goals to provide access to design education for every student in Philadelphia. This exhibition focuses on the Architecture and Design Education program tracing the arc of its origin through current day with displays highlighting the lessons, volunteers, teachers, and sponsors that make the program a success. The exhibition caps off with a look at the evolution of the educational program with the brand-new Wondering Studio and what it means for the future of the program. FUTURE VISIONARIES: ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN EDUCATION STUDENT PROJECTS 2021. The Future Visionaries exhibition examines individual and collective visions for the built environment through the lens of young adults and children from six Philadelphia schools. Students were encouraged to think about the issues that are important to them, for example, creating equity in safe places, community resources, housing, education, recreation, etc. Their projects illuminate how design thinking and architecture have shaped the physical, intellectual, and emotional development of the students to help them become better problem solvers. The student projects are showcased in and around The Wondering Studio, a playful learning environment that incorporates design lessons and exercises from the Center’s Architecture and Design Education Program curriculum. Envisioned by LRK and constructed by Lucky Dog Studio as a Community Design Collaborative project, the mobile educational classroom is interactive and encourages learning about design through play, offering hands-on activities and materials that inspire children to think creatively, and problem solve.

AIA Philadelphia | context | SPRING 2022 9



Register your program/open house/design display BY MAY 20TH and SAVE BIG off the full cost of registration. Details at

Get ready for DesignPhiladelphia and create something

OPEN to the public. Serving refreshments is always a big hit, but certainly

special! There are so many ways to get involved and connect with

not required. Open Houses are meant to be free flowing so that everyone

our audience of creative industry professionals design-savvy public

has the same experience no matter what time they come, so please do

audiences, and students (particularly those in the creative industries).

not plan any programmed events during this time.

For questions on any of the partnering opportunities below, please contact Jermaine Jenkins at

CRAFT A DESIGN DISPLAY IN YOUR STORE-FRONT WINDOW Not interested in seeing anyone? Use your storefront as a window into your

PLAN AN EVENT Join us and your fellow Philly designers by

world by creating a Design Display on view throughout the entire festival,

creating something special during our 12-day festival. Let us be your

Oct. 12 – Oct. 23.

megaphone and bring the public to your space, physically or virtually. Pair your creativity, your brilliance, your stories with our marketing

DESIGN AN INSTALLATION Show off your design chops at Cherry

muscle and wide-reaching connections to make your event a success.

Street Pier with an interactive installation. We provide the space, you bring

With several levels of partnership to choose from, you decide if you

the team and your creative energy to breathe life into the pier and teach the

want to host an exhibition, workshop, or a panel discussion. The

public a lesson in design.

options are endless. BECOME A SPONSOR Sponsor the DesignPhiladelphia Kickoff Party, HOST AN OPEN HOUSE Have a studio? An office? A shared space

an individual program, or one of our other experiential opportunities

with other creatives? Bring the public to your place and show them

and let your brand do the talking to Philadelphia’s design world. Join

what you do! Hosting an Open House during DesignPhiladelphia is super

the community of contributors who have supported DesignPhiladelphia

easy. Pick a date or dates and plan your time, all you need to do is be

in the past and connect with thousands of people here in Philadelphia.

10 SPRING 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia


SPRING HAS SPRUNG: THE SEASON OF CHANGE IS UPON US The Community Design Collaborative is in the

the greater Philadelphia Design community later this year.

process of a transformation as the organization

While attending Grassroots in February, our team was

moves into 2022! At the end of last year, we kicked off a

inspired by the keynotes and refreshing perspectives shared

strategic planning process, led by Inclusion Labs — a BIPOC

within the AIA Network. The past few years have highlighted

female led firm. Reflecting on three decades of service

many disparities in the design profession for many of our

to the Philadelphia area, the goal is to engage our many

members, but this realization is not new- reinforcing and

stakeholders [community-based clients, design volunteers,

reminding of stagnated statistics that show that not enough

and organizational partners] to refresh our mission and

change has occurred. We welcome the new AIA Executive

vision and set our strategic goals through 2025. This process

Director Lakisha Woods, the incoming Board of Directors, and

has provided us space to ask and engage some critical

all the people who are putting in the work to cultivate more

questions we have raised as we reflect on the changes we

equity in design. The Community Design Collaborative looks

have seen in local neighborhoods and communities and the

forward to continuing to contribute to these efforts with the

field’s approach to public interest work.

continued support of the AIA Philadelphia community!

Through this work, we have found ourselves aligned with AIA National’s Racial Equity Initiative, Guides for Equitable Practice, and Citizen Architect Handbook. We have also had a representative of the board leadership join AIA Philadelphia’s Culture Change Initiative. Aligning with the ultimate release of our updated strategic plan; the Collaborative team has been excited to work with our design colleagues to continue to cultivate an environment of equity, diversity, and inclusion through our work in Philadelphia. In February, we began a parallel J.E.D.I. goal setting process to drill down further on aspects of our operations and continue to create actionable steps and benchmarks to help us bring our strategic plan to fruition. We are thrilled to be working with Sherry Snipes, former Chief Diversity Officer for AIA National. Through this process, we have received funding to do some internal trainings, that we look forward to opening to our firm partners and volunteers. Tailoring these trainings to our work as designers, we look forward to bringing trainings on design justice and equity to

AIA Philadelphia | context | SPRING 2022 11


KEVIN MAHONEY BY JOANN GRECO Kevin Mahoney’s life changed within the span of a few days one hot summer more than forty years ago. He was 19, freshly kicked out of Millersville University (a 1.98 GPA will do that to you) and driving a tractor for a landscaper out in the cornfields of suburban Philadelphia, waiting until he could figure out something better to do with his life. One day he met the client, developer Bill Rouse. “I remember him standing there with a cigarette in his hand on this plot of land near Route 29,” Mahoney, the CEO of University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS), says. “I had just been out there hunting pheasants a week before and here he was telling me of his vision to clear everything for an office park. I said, ‘all respect, but people get on the train at Berwyn and go to work in the city. They sleep out here.’” “I thought it was an insane idea,” Mahoney continues. “But years

12 SPRING 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia


later when he built Liberty Place taller than Billy Penn’s hat, I remembered our conversation. There was this idea of sticking to a vision and not letting artificial boundaries or naysayers hold you back.” That determination became Mahoney’s guiding principle. He remembers his early years at Bryn Mawr Hospital, where he decided to get rid of the 14-bed tonsil unit. “The pediatrics association had declared that the need to have your tonsils removed was an old wives tale,” he recalls, “so this unit was for the past not for the future. And as we tore it out, I was thinking what a waste of money. It

instilled a trait in me to always keep an eye on what’s coming around the corner.” The recently-unveiled $1.6 billion, 1.5 million-square foot UPHS Pavilion by Foster + Partners is a much more radical example of this way of thinking. “We tried to build it so, regardless of where medicine goes, we don’t have to tear it apart. It’s a platform for the future not just a hospital for today,” Mahoney says. The 17-story facility with 504 private patient rooms and 47 operating rooms is only the latest, largest and showiest piece of Mahoney’s decades-old commitment to transforming the Penn medical campus. It’s also the culmination of Mahoney’s long career in healthcare administration, one that began that fateful summer in 1978. Shortly after his encounter with Rouse, Mahoney had another memorable experience. Standing on his tractor, keeping an eye out for sinkholes in Rouse’s cornfields, he found himself suddenly tumbling from the vehicle. “The tractor ran over me,” Mahoney says flatly. “I was severely injured.” He was rushed to Paoli Hospital, where he remained for the duration of his care. “Every nurse, every person delivering my food, every physical therapist was pulling for me,” he says. “But they would also speak to me in direct, even harsh terms.” After a bout of self-pity that brought his mom to tears, a surgeon grabbed him by his pajamas and scolded him. “He said, ‘you’re lucky to be alive, it’s just skin, if you ever make your mother cry again, I’m going to kick your ass!’” The dressing down acted like a “light switch,” says Mahoney. “That doctor made me, a self-absorbed teenager, grow up. From that point on, all I wanted was to work in a hospital.” But not at the kind of job where you needed to master chemistry and biology. He decided to return to Millersville to complete his degree in economics, and it was there that he met another pivotal force: Pam Kane, the woman who would become his wife and the mother of their three children. He credits her with teaching him how to study and stay focused, and encouraging him to pursue his MBA and doctoral degrees at Temple University. Save for a two-year stint working in Bermuda for an offshore insurance company — a move precipitated by his distaste at being asked to make workforce cuts at Bryn Mawr, Mahoney has worked at hospitals ever since. He arrived at UPHS in 1996, shortly before the system entered a downward spiral in which it lost hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of several years. A new CEO entered the picture in 2000, and the system gradually returned to profitability. “We needed a modern facility to convince everyone that we were back,” recalls Mahoney. “We had a vision to develop the old Civic Center site. Most hospitals add another new


building every 15 years and they generally don’t connect. You see the ‘70s building, you see the ‘80s building…. We were going to build a more cohesive hospital from the ground up.” They started with the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, which was completed in 2009. The $302 million, 500,000-square-foot outpatient facility consists of the Abramson Cancer Center (from Rafael Vinoly Architects) and the Roberts Proton Therapy Center (by Tsoi Kobus Design). But the development of the site was always going to be completed in phases — the only way that Penn could afford Vinoly’s ambitious master plan. In 2011, the Vinoly-designed Smilow Center for Translational Research opened on top of the complex’ ambulatory building. Vinoly’s Henry A. Jordan M’62 Medical Education Center and his South Tower, built over the whole shebang, came next. Ultimately, the complex reached nearly 2 million square feet, all of it connected by a series of bridges that brought researchers, patients and clinicians closer together in order to seamlessly foster care and innovation. Cohesion may have been the goal, but the staggered debuts and modular nature of the project often led to a jumble of “too many hands” — and some 10,000 change orders. “I would be throwing fits left and right,” says Mahoney. “I’d say to Rafael, to the builders, this has got to stop. I’m paying for your dysfunction. When it came time to start on the Pavilion, I said: I am doing it 100-percent integrated product delivery (IPD).” To facilitate this collaborative model — which revolves around the use of a single contract for all parties that spells out agreed-upon costs, deliverables, and expectations — UPHS established a 24,000-square-foot co-location space not far from the construction site. Here, members of the IPD team — Penn Medicine personnel, health care design firm HDR, architect Foster + Partners, engineering firm BR+A, and construction managers L.F. Driscoll and Balfour Beatty, among others — worked together for the duration of the project. Later, the team constructed a full-scale 30,000-square-foot foam and cardboard mockup of half of an inpatient floor to test how the spaces worked. Nurses kicked the tires, actors portraying patients tried out the bathrooms, and technicians walked from one end of the floor to the other. Their suggestions — for, say, increased daylighting or additional elevators — were implemented. “I try to listen, and listen well,” says Mahoney. “I think that goes back to growing up in a large family. [He’s one of eight kids]. Organi-

Penn Medicine Pavilion with the Penn Museum in the foreground, above. Interiors of Penn Medicine Pavilion feature Maya Lin’s Decoding the Tree of Life, below, and Odili Donald Odita’s Field and Sky, bottom.

zations are relationship-oriented and relationships take time. [My] empathy can help a doctor be more effective or an employee do his job better. I want people to look back [at my time at Penn] and say, not so much that I put up that building and that building, but that I had an impact and made the University and the city a better place.” n JoAnn Greco is a Philadelphia-based journalist who frequently writes about the built environment.

AIA Philadelphia | context | SPRING 2022 13



The new Park at Penn’s Landing, 2021.

14 SPRING 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia


Big things are in the works at Penn’s Landing, a part of Philadelphia that bridges a multitude of scales, multiple and layered histories, and countless memories and

experiences — for Philadelphians and many others. At Penn’s Landing nowadays people enjoy activities ranging from New Year’s Eve fireworks, to runs and strolls against the backdrop of the Ben Franklin Bridge, HARGREAVESJONES

concerts and movie screenings, cultural festivals, ice skating at the Blue Cross RiverRink, perching atop the stairs of the Great

AIA Philadelphia | context | SPRING 2022 15

Plaza, and (sometimes) the exciting challenge of finding the Penn’s Landing exit on I-95. Penn’s Landing also serves as a reminder of the working character of the waterfront — a place that offered many jobs and livelihoods to Philadelphians of previous generations. The waterfront gave birth to the city that we know and love today, serving across the centuries as an entry-point for commerce and immigration, as well as the place where slaves were first brought and sold. As a site that is so nearly synonymous with Philadelphia, and with so many multi-faceted, often conflicting associations, approaching its planning and design challenges requires great care and attention to a diversity of viewpoints and perspectives.

THE PARK AT PENN’S LANDING AND ADJACENT PROJECTS Today, a confluence of transformations is happening on the

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PennPraxis was brought on to lead the community engagement associated with the programming of the new park in 2019. Earlier phases of the project had included some engagement, and due to the complexity of the engineering and site constraints, a number of design decisions had to be made at that time.


16 SPRING 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia

it passes through the city. As such, much of the funding for the park is coming from PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, and it is largely informed by those entities and their planning processes. This of course builds on the years of fundraising by DRWC, the city, and its philanthropic partners that have brought the project to this point.


waterfront, some directly impacting Penn’s Landing, others not, which will dramatically alter the appearance and experience of the place. In many minds, these transformations will be great aesthetic and functional improvements. However, since experiences at Penn’s Landing are as diverse as the city itself, the collection of public input about possible changes must be truly inclusive, bringing new ideas and insights to the table, and promising that the input will made be visible, not just in physical design, but in ongoing programming and management. One of the most visible projects underway is “The Park at Penn’s Landing,” a new, nearly 12-acre park that will cap I-95, achieving the longstanding vision of bridging the gap between the city and the waterfront with a seamless connector of public space. Planning for the park has been ongoing for more than a decade, with important milestones occurring in 2012 (the completion of the Masterplan for the Central Delaware) and in 2014 with the feasibility study by Hargreaves Associates. The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), in partnership with the City of Philadelphia and numerous other funders and partners, has been working tirelessly through the intervening years to develop public space and transportation projects that have incrementally improved the quality of public space — and ultimately the experience — along the waterfront adjacent to Center City. A 2017 landmark funding commitment of $225 million from the city, PennDOT, and the William Penn Foundation (among others) enabled the final design and planning of the park to commence. The Park at Penn’s Landing is just one of several projects now under development. In addition to the long list of projects realized over the past decade, DRWC and partners are currently overseeing the development of the area directly north of the new park at Penn’s Landing, which was the focus of a national request for proposals, the completion of the Delaware River Trail (DRT), various connector streets, and numerous parcels for public or private development elsewhere on the waterfront. The transformation of Penn’s Landing is also part of the gigantic planning and engineering effort to redesign I-95 as


Knights Common at Penn’s Landing, with Café at right. Community focus group led by Make the World Better Foundation in South Philadelphia, 2019.




The Breezeway between Café and Pavilion, 2021.

Developing a new engagement strategy that enabled participants to offer more than superficial, unrealizable adjustments to an already-developed plan was tricky. Yet this work was essential to fulfill the vision of a “park for all Philadelphians” that was articulated by the Knight Foundation, which provided supplemental funding for engagement activities. This was not the first time PennPraxis had been involved in this area. In fact, more than a dozen years ago, PennPraxis led the process that dramatically shifted perceptions of the Delaware River waterfront and brought it more into public consciousness. A Civic Vision for the Central Delaware was developed between 2005 and 2007, with numerous public meetings that attracted hundreds of residents, mainly from the waterfront-adjacent neighborhoods, and the involvement of many members of the Philadelphia design community. The vision focused on bringing activation and connection to the waterfront, including public space, movement systems, and development. It was followed by an Action Plan for the Central Delaware (2008), which added specificity and timelines to these broad visions, and made what followed possible. While robust public engagement was the core of all this work, the approach for the current park project had to be different — reaching beyond the waterfront-adjacent neighborhoods and design community to hear from other Philadelphians — even those who had never been to Penn’s Landing.

18 SPRING 2022 | context | AIA Philadelphia

Between 2019 and 2021, PennPraxis oversaw a process characterized less by large-scale public forums and more by small, specific focus groups that could provide guidance about the kind of vibrant programming desired for the new park. The aim was to go directly to groups that were less likely to attend a citywide conversation. SEAMAAC, Make the World Better Foundation, and the Village of Arts and Humanities were hired to facilitate community-specific discussions, and Little Giant Creative provided messaging and communications support. The discussion facilitators were chosen not just on the basis of geographical location, but because of the particular engagement experience that each brought.

MANY VOICES SEAMAAC draws together ages ranging from youth to elders and unites the enormously diverse Southeast Philadelphia neighborhood around shared assets, culture, food, and public space — bridging countless cultural and language barriers. Make the World Better Foundation (MTWB), founded by former Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin, is focused on youth and public space engagement, specifically around recreation and sports. It is known for long-term investment, year after year, in cultivating community relationships in South Philadelphia and Kensington. The Village of Arts and Humanities shared the perspective gained from engaging North Philadelphia residents


about matters of importance to them and brought additional insights into youth development, the creation of welcoming public space, and engaging residents affected by extreme violence, prejudice, and incarceration. Little Giant Creative, having led a great deal of engagement with BIPOC audiences, provided guidance on language that would resonate with broad audiences. Together, the consultant team formulated an engagement plan that centered around thematic and neighborhood-based focus groups, including food as social capital, freedom in public space, intergenerational play, accessibility, operations and management, musicians and promoters, and cultural entrepreneurship. In addition, the three place-based partners held discussions in their neighborhoods — Southeast Philadelphia, Southwest, and North Philadelphia. Participants in these conversations, who were compensated for their time, provided unique insights based on their experience with Penn’s Landing, the waterfront overall, and other Philadelphia public spaces. It was exceptionally useful to hear how residents from throughout the city experienced public space, what they viewed as a “welcoming” public space, and what would draw them to the new Park at Penn’s Landing. Topic-specific focus groups provided meaningful input about programming, such as the need to provide a multitude of food options (especially at affordable price points) and accommodate local artists and musicians, not just big name shows. PennPraxis, in partnership with DRWC, PennDOT, the City, and AECOM, also co-hosted a public forum in October 2019 to capture wider public input into the programming of the future park, which reinforced many of the concepts that came from the smaller discussions. PennPraxis developed tools to aid in the conversations around design. A basic site model was made to show the various nodes of the park, including play areas, gardens, festival accommodations, the pavilion, and the river walk, and input was sought about each. Additional materials explained what was possible within the design, such as which parts of the park would be built on fill and which on a platform. Meetings were facilitated by the nonprofit partners, who worked with the model and the meeting toolkit provided.

design process was very poignant. The Freedom in Public Space focus group articulated the uneasiness that many experienced in widely praised public spaces such as Rittenhouse Square and the Schuylkill River Trail. To this group, “safety” was the essential ingredient in a welcoming public space, which meant that people had to be assured that they would not be type-cast as undesirable because of the way they looked, dressed, or interacted. Similarly, the accessibility conversation shone light on the public space experience of those with sight, hearing, or mobility impairments and cognitive challenges. In total, these conversations highlighted the enormous challenge of making a public space truly accessible for everyone. Every detail of the park design must take these many needs into consideration, and — more importantly — so must future management. Recommendations included sensitivity about surveillance, affordability, opening hours, local hiring, and providing employment opportunities for young people.


While comments from the focus groups varied, key points of feedback included the need to provide more “nodes” for gathering, shade, areas for quite respite, places for local public art, and ample venues for local artists and artisans. Preference was stated for materials that were typical of and representative of Philadelphia. Members of the design team, Hargreaves Associates, working with KieranTimberlake, participated in several

At the crossroads of many aspects of Philadelphia’s history, what is happening at Penn’s Landing is representative of trends in the entire city — and where it is moving. It is creating an exciting new public space. It is completing essential transportation links that will enhance its accessibility and attractiveness as a public amenity. It is inciting new, large scale commercial and residential development. In the foreseeable future (the park is due to be completed in 2026), decades of planning and visioning will materialize in a cohesive and interconnected waterfront, connected not only along the length of river, but to the city itself. However, as more development and high-quality amenities arrive, questions about equity are brought into sharp focus. Penn’s Landing has long been a place where Philadelphians from across the city, of all income levels, could feel at home. As these spaces are transformed and physical connections improve, it is essential to make sure that these emotional connections are not lost. Public space is a critical ingredient in maintaining our city’s welcoming spirit. The inclusive engagement process that informed the new Park at Penn’s Landing can serve as a model for the future. For the “big projects” that are now shaping the face of this remarkable, diverse city, extra care and effort is going to be required. It essential to go directly to residents, rather than expecting them to come into a process, and ensure that their input is acted upon and the conversation continues once the process is complete. While Penn’s Landing has changed dramatically in the past decade, the Penn’s Landing of the future must continue to offer the dynamism and diversity that characterizes it today — a place to remember that is uniquely Philadelphian.

of the conversations, and many of the recommendations were incorporated in the final design. But not all the feedback was about design; the most resonant recommendations had more to do with public space management. Hearing from individuals whose experiences were dramatically different than that of the typical participants in the

Julie Donofrio is the managing director of PennPraxis at the Stuart Weitzman School of Design, where she led the most recent community engagement process to inform the Park at Penn’s Landing. She also teaches about community engagement in the Department of City and Regional Planning. She lives in South Philadelphia and enjoys spending time at Penn’s Landing and in all of Philadelphia’s public spaces.


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TO CHANGE THE PARK WE MUST CHA Since its inception, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway has been meant to be transformative. Embedded in its DNA is the lofty goal of transcend-


ing the commonplace. Even if you know nothing about the City Beautiful movement and its emphasis on monumental grandeur, you can’t avoid sensing that the Parkway was designed to make you feel something important, not just be part of your daily routine. You feel this in the Parkway’s scale, every time you get an unobstructed view of City Hall or the Art Museum, and with each Trumbauer column you pass. But the Parkway has never quite attained this goal of civic transformation, which was so clearly a part its design. It serves as a public space for parades, protests, and concerts, but feels more like a container for these events than a catalyst. And the Parkway’s grand physical reality has been compromised by the grit and prosaic infrastructure of the surrounding city, which it neither successfully barred nor thoughtfully integrated. The Parkway as it stands — with a gash of highway cutting through it, parking on Eakins Oval, homeless encampments, inaccessible fountains, whirring traffic, vacant stretches, seemingly unapproachable museums — is like much of America at the moment: beautiful but broken, ambitious but imperfect, and in

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need of a jolting transformation.



Design Workshop’s proposal for the Benjami0n Franklin Parkway, July 2021.

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It is a blessing then that the latest proposed renovation of the Parkway will give us the opportunity not just to reshape the Parkway’s spaces, but overhaul nothing less than the values and priorities of the city. To deliver on this plan, we must prioritize pedestrians and bicyclists over drivers, public space over traffic, sustainability over convenience, Philadelphians over commuting suburbanites, neighbors over tourists, and maybe even community over divisiveness. Your natural inclination when reading that sentence may be to correct me and say, “Why must it be either / or? Why can’t it be yes / and? A winwin!” Why not? Because to satisfy all people and all needs would be to stay where we’re currently stuck: avoiding tough decisions that require us to make choices and change, and shrinking away from the opportunity to be exceptional — something that Philadelphia, sandwiched between New York and Washington, D.C., has been doing for far too long. The first way to make these changes more appealing is to see the Parkway’s transformation as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a head start in the race to the future. It often feels like social, economic, environmental, and technological changes are lapping us before we’ve left the starting block. How do we ensure that we won’t be overwhelmed by the challenges of the future, with more climate change, continued inequality, and the new normal of remote work? How? By anticipating the future and honoring it seriously, just as we honor Philadelphia’s historic past. In 2021, following a year of change on the Parkway —protests, a homeless encampment, reduction in daily commuters, the pedestrianization of MLK Drive for socially distanced recreation— Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and the Managing Director’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems issued a request for proposals to redesign the Parkway. Shepherded by Drexel University’s Lindy Institute, that process resulted in eighteen proposals, three of which were deemed finalists, and Design Workshop (who has named ten subcontractors), was chosen to create a new vision and plan. The Design Workshop proposal for the Parkway is unabashedly forward thinking, and makes no concessions to cars. The design returns


Logan Circle into its rightful role as one of William Penn’s original park squares. It caps the remaining 676 highway openings at 21st and 22nd streets, and it allows the forthcoming Calder museum to breathe amidst greenery rather than the automobile exhaust of an exit ramp. The moat of roadways surrounding Eakins Oval will be closed, enabling genuine pedestrian and bicycle access to the Art Museum. These are bold moves, which, if completed, will prioritize the everyday pedestrian and bicyclist, but will also be a boon to tourists who want to make a full day of exploring the Parkway. Drivers, particularly the daily commuters who barrel down Kelly Drive to the Parkway, might be frustrated. But in a city where a persistent 25 percent of the population live in poverty and cannot afford cars, this is a needed move toward equity. At a time when fossil fuels are less viable than ever, it makes sense to plan for a future in which transportation is carbon-free. In the wake of COVID, we can already tell that fewer people will be commuting into the city on a daily basis, and the Design Workshop plan no longer prioritizes the remaining commuters over locals. Acknowledging the rising popularity of e-bikes, scooters, drones, and the delivery economy, the plan is also a hedge against changing 21st-century mobility patterns. Removing cars opens up a world of other opportunities for the Parkway and for the city. Architectural “follies” or pavilions will dot the avenue between the Art Museum and Logan Square, enlivening that swath that often feels empty on weekdays. The follies will sustain the Parkway’s emphasis on eye-catching architecture, but lower its temperature from the monumental and daunting to the human-scale, greeting people on the street without, hopefully, a hefty ticket price. New pollinator gardens will reverse the old roadway’s heat island effect, demonstrating that greenery is not just pretty to look at, but a boon to the region’s ecosystem. Removing the roads that separate Eakins Oval from the Schuylkill River will open up new connections. Bikers from West Philadelphia will be able to access the Parkway more easily across a pedestrianized MLK bridge, while Parkway visitors will be able to walk down to the Schuylkill riverbanks, where they will discover a public swimming pool, a pier, and water

Design Workshop’s proposal for phase one in 2023, July 2021.



taxis. This new axis from the Parkway to waterfront will also highlight Philadelphia’s green approach to stormwater management and the importance of green infrastructure in cities around the world. These changes might strike some as too much. (Swimming in the Schuylkill?) But Philadelphia is far behind other cities in making big moves to address livability, equity, and sustainability. Many people thought Boston’s “Big Dig” was over ambitious, but it has transformed that city’s image from a rusty has-been to one of the prettiest cities on the East Coast. Many New Yorkers, particularly business owners, were appalled by the plan to turn the core of Times Square into pedestrian plazas. Could they have foreseen that giving tourists some room to linger and relax amidst the hubbub would actually be better for business? And in Washington, D.C., the 11th Street Bridge over the Anacostia River will provide space for healthy recreation, environmental education, and the arts, and its economic investment capacity will spread the wealth equitably to long-disinvested communities east of the river. This kind of major investment in public space and economic development is routinely made in Europe. As parts of Barcelona become fully pedestrianized, as Milan converts miles of road to bikeways, and Stockholm creates one-minute cities where a person’s daily needs are met within a single block, Europeans are liking the transformation of their cities. In Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo staked her 2020 reelection on the concept of the “15-minute city” and won. This proposition— that all Parisians should be able to satisfy their daily needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from home— was devised to address the challenges of climate change, strangled mobility, and unbridled tourism. To institute it, the city is set to remove 70,000 parking spaces and is planning 112 miles of permanent bike lanes. This comes on top of other efforts to make the city more livable, such as turning the banks of the Seine into a beach in the summer. This kind of thinking has also influenced Paris’s plan to renovate the Champs-Elysées after the city hosts the 2024 Olympics. The boulevard has been reconceived by Philippe Chiambaretta and his firm PCA-Stream as an “extraordinary garden” that will have limited traffic, “planted living rooms,” noise-reducing pavement, and improved air quality. The Champs-Elysées was once the inspiration for the Parkway, and it can be again. (And Chiambaretta is part of the Design Workshop team.) But there is a critical difference between the two projects: the reimagined Champs-Elysees is the capstone of Paris’s multi-year reinvention, while the Parkway’s redesign will require a new leap of faith for Philadelphia. We need to formally adopt the new design for the Parkway and also mobilize support for it. We have already completed smaller projects that demonstrate our capacity to make changes. These include the lovely new public spaces of Sister Cities Park and Dilworth Park, which demonstrate the demand for such amenities. We have learned that streeteries can enliven streets and that traffic can wend its way around them. We have seen Eakins Oval engage thousands of Philadelphians each summer and beg to be made permanent. But we must widen the circles of people who not only enjoy these improvements, but are willing to make some sacrifices and take some risks for them. The hard work of transformation will not be just engineering and landscaping, but changing the minds of Philadelphians.

PCA-STREAM’s design for the Champs Elysées, below, and for Place de la Concorde, bottom. Both from 2020.

We need Philadelphians from across all the city’s neighborhoods to see their own benefit in this project, and to articulate that to their representatives. And we also need elected officials not only to listen to their constituents, but in some cases, lead them. Finally, we need the next mayor not just to endorse this plan, but to believe that it is critical to the future of the city. A century ago, we believed that building monumental buildings could uplift and ennoble the people. This time around, we need to change people’s expectations and beliefs before we worry about the physical transformation of the Parkway. We need people to see that cars and commuters should not be prioritized above the needs of locals, pedestrians and bikers. We need to normalize the expectation that major American cities can and should dedicate money and effort to provide residents with access to nature, exercise, culture, sustainability, job creation, civic engagement, and all the other activities that the Parkway can accommodate. And we should instill in Philadelphians the belief that we can take on outsize projects and see them through to successful fruition. If we can make those shifts in the minds of Philadelphians, it would be big. n Diana Lind is the author of Brave New Home: Our Future in Smarter, Simpler, Happier Housing (Bold Type Books, 2020).

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2 1


To understand fully the glittering West Philadelphia panorama of today, it is necessary to explore its complicated backstory, which includes the destruction of a viable African American neighborhood as well as the creation of the University City Science Center (UCSC), the nation’s first and largest urban research park. Beginning with its incorporation in 1963, the Science Center was part of the larger history of postwar urban renewal. It was the centerpiece of “Unit 3,” an urban renewal zone established by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (RDA) that extended south from Lancaster and Powelton Avenues to Chestnut Street and from 34th to 40th streets. In creating Unit 3, the RDA acted in the interests of the School District of Philadelphia and the West Philadelphia Corporation (WPC). The latter was a non-profit consortium of higher education and medical institutions in which the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) was the dominant partner/majority shareholder and whose junior partners were the Drexel Institute of Technology (now Drexel University), the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (now the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia), Presbyterian Hospital


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Philadelphia is now re-centering itself to the west. Building on Penn’s and Drexel’s spectacular turn-of-the-Millennium commercial developments along Walnut and Chestnut streets, the Market Street corridor between 34th and 38th streets is filling with the University City Science Center’s new, eye-catching buildings. Here are incubated small business startups in life sciences, clean technologies, IT, bioinformatics, nanotechnology, and diagnostics and devices. Also under development is uCity Square (ZGF Architects), a megaproject undertaken by the Science Center and Wexford Science and Technology, which is constructing an enclave of postmodernist buildings that co-locate working, living, shopping, recreation, and fitness on a single site — all designed for young, workaholic high-tech entrepreneurs. On the north side of this site, the Drexel-Wexford Partnership has constructed a two-story, 87,000-squarefoot building for the Samuel Powel Elementary School and the Science Leadership Academy Middle School (Rogers Partners), and on the south side they are now building the fourteen-story Drexel College of Nursing and Health Professions (Ballinger).



1 Urban Renewal Area Unit 3, proposed land use. January 1964. 2 Market Street, looking east from 38th Street in 2022 . 3 Market Street, looking west from 36th Street on December 9, 1948, with subway construction. The elevated railroad (“El”) operated until the opening of the subway in 1956.

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(now Penn–Presbyterian Medical Center), and the Osteopathic Medical School (now the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine). The University City Science Center was the brainchild of the WPC and city agencies looking to recruit gifted scientists and scholars to “University City,” to attract the research units of major industries to form a “city of knowledge,” and to establish Philadelphia as a national leader in high-tech research and design. University City High School, while it was to be built by the School District of Philadelphia, was planned by the WPC as a high school of science and technology to be affiliated with the UCSC. The chain of events that led to the formation of the WPC in 1959 and, in turn, the UCSC, began with a spike in violent crime in an area of West Philadelphia known as the “Bottom,” a moniker derived from the area’s relative proximity to the Schuylkill River — north of Lancaster Avenue in Powelton Village, Mantua, and Fairmount. (This is not the “Black Bottom” that is discussed below.) Anxiety about crime peaked with the murder of In-Ho Oh, a Korean doctoral student at Penn who resided in Powelton Village. The


crime was committed on an April evening in 1958 by a group of disaffected African American youth. The historian Eric Schneider has documented the rise in youthrelated crime in the Bottom in the late 1950s, which had Penn as well as the progressive-minded neighborhood of Powelton Village on tenterhooks. It is significant that the ten youths who were imprisoned for killing In-Ho Oh were not from the African Americanmajority blocks around Market Street that were known locally as the “Black Bottom,” but that neighborhood would be the primary target of urban renewal in Unit 3.

UNIT 3 AND THE FATE OF THE BLACK BOTTOM Oral history interviews undertaken in the last 25 years identify the Black Bottom as the blocks between 34th and 40th streets, bounded on the south by Ludlow Street (the first street below Market) and Lancaster and Powelton Avenues on the north. This was home to a predominately working class and working poor African American population. Roughly coterminous with Unit 3, these blocks were declared blighted by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and the RDA. This determination was based on the technocratic conception of “urban community,” which the RDA narrowly defined in physical terms. The planners discounted the communal values, neighborly attachments, and cooperative activities of Black Bottom residents. (This is not to suggest that violence did not occasionally flare up in the Black Bottom,



4 Urban Redevelopment Area Unit 3 looking south in 1968, showing sites cleared for the Science Center and University City High School. 5 Market Street, looking east from 37th Street, on May 25, 1956, following the removal of the Market Street El. 6 The Cobra Room at Club Zalmar at 37th and Market Streets, 1965.

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as it did in the city’s other low-income, segregated black neighborhoods — which were similarly written off by city officials as unworthy of investment, restoration, or improvement.) Residents were presented with a fait accompli in which they had no democratic voice. While outraged advocates in local and national Black organizations were able to stave off demolition in the Black Bottom for four years, their legal options ran out in 1967. The Science Center and its projected affiliated high school were two of several WPC-supported projects in Unit 3, where 2,653 people were “known to have been displaced”; of this number an estimated 78 percent were black. A careful although convoluted analysis of the available data found that 666 people were displaced from the Science Center’s 26-acre site, and another 806 people were moved from the high school location. In total the Penn/WPC “science center” strategy removed 1,472 Black Bottomers — more than half of all Unit 3 displacements.1 Oral history sources point to the Kingsessing neighborhood in Southwest Philadelphia as the primary locality of resettlement for the displaced. A belated protest and seizure of Penn’s College Hall, carried out in the winter of 1969 by Philadelphia-area college students and activists, compelled the Science Center to pledge to return its holdings in the corridor west of 39th Street to the city for low-income housing, which finally came to fruition as University City Townhouses in 1982–83 (Friday Architects/Planners and Richard Kline). Since the incorporation of the Science Center in 1963, and especially following the Black Bottom removals in 1967 and 1968, a coterie of scholars and activists have identified the University of Pennsylvania as the primary instigator of the strategy to establish a cordon sanitaire in the Market Street corridor. This was designed to buffer Penn from the blight and crime that the white leadership of the WPC and city planners of that era associated with the low-income, Black-majority neighborhoods to the north and west of the campus. Archival research has documented Penn’s dominance in the WPC and its heavy hand in Unit 3 planning. The continuing hue and cry for reparations — in the form of college admissions and scholarships for the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the displaced residents — has always been directed at Penn, not Drexel or any other Science Center partner from the 1960s. This issue remains of great consequence for the University’s community relations. In our 2015 book on the University of Pennsylvania’s postwar history, Becoming Penn, Mark Lloyd and the author proffered two possible interpretations of the Black Bottom as a place and space of community identity. The first, we wrote, was “that the concept of the ‘Black Bottom’ was an African American cultural construction to which white elites, prior to the clearances, were not privy.” The second possibility, we continued, was “that the concept acquired inflated significance after the removals as an identifier and rallying point for Unit 3’s black diaspora.” Edward Epstein, in his assiduously researched 2020 dissertation, adopts the former interpretation and persuasively cites oral history interviews with former residents, descendants of dispossessed families, and contemporary Black Bottom activists, to demonstrate that it was both a place and a space of communal identity extending back to the 1940s, if not earlier.2 Today a coalition called the Black Bottom Tribe, a number of whose members were Black Bottom youths in the 1960s, is calling for historical transparency from the institutions that engineered the

displacements and for the erection of historical markers to honor the memory of the Black Bottom.

THE PAST HALF-CENTURY The Science Center’s original headquarters was a converted industrial building at 3501 Market Street, purchased in 1965. It erected its first new buildings in 1969–1971. Between the 1960s and the Millennium, the Science Center evolved into a consortium of 31 educational and medical institutions from throughout the Delaware Valley. In the 1960s, Penn was the majority shareholder. Yet by the early 1980s, Penn’s involvement in the Science Center was desultory, its attention and resources narrowly focused on strengthening campus safety and security amidst escalating crime waves. The first years of the Science Center were difficult. Beyond its successful recruitment of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in 1971, the Science Center Corporation was unable to attract other major corporations with research and design departments; to stay afloat, it leased office space to organizations that were not research oriented. The lots that had been cleared by urban renewal stood without buildings along Market between 36th and 38th streets. This district came to be defined by its crime-friendly surface parking lots. Finally, in the early 1990s, the tide turned dramatically, and completion of the research park accelerated. The booming Clinton-era economy spurred building and investment along Market Street, which was sustained through the next quarter-century. The Science Center also benefited from a national Zeitgeist that favored the revitalization of so-called “legacy cities” by attracting a new generation of hightech-minded, professional elites. Even more, the Science Center was the beneficiary of Penn’s and Drexel’s spectacular commercial developments and of the special services provided by the University City District, a partnership of the area’s anchor institutions, small businesses, and contributing residents that was inaugurated in 1997. Amidst the prosperity and accomplishment of our time, reminders of history are few. But the destruction of the Black Bottom in the 1960s teaches lessons that are as important as the scientific advances being made in the towers that line Market Street today. John Puckett is an emeritus professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught education history and urban studies. He currently manages the website “West Philadelphia Collaborative History.” Citations: 1. Reported in Karen Gaines’s to “all concerned” memorandum, 30 October 1968, University of Pennsylvania Archives and Records Center, UPA4, box 214, folder “SDS versus University City Science Center — Student Affairs 1965-1970. 2. Edward M. Epstein, “Race, Real Estate and Education: The University of Pennsylvania’s Interventions in West Philadelphia, 1960–1980” (Ed.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2020) Sources: A longer discussion, with full citation of sources, is in chapters 3 and 4 of John L. Puckett and Mark Frazier Lloyd, Becoming Penn: The Pragmatic American University, 1950–2000 (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015). Related discussions are in chapter 3 of Eric C. Schneider, The Ecology of Homicide: Race, Place, and Space in Postwar Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020); chapter 4 of Margaret Pugh O’Mara, Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005); and Edward Epstein’s dissertation, cited in note 2. A history of the Science Center to the 2010s, based in part on Science Center records 1963–2004, is in John L. Puckett, “University City Science Center,” Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, online 2014,

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THE NEXT BIG THING As Philadelphia heads into the second quarter of the millennium, we asked three of the city’s most thoughtful people to make a pitch for what they thought should be our next BIG thing. We shouldn’t have been surprised when, rather than write about something to build, these visionaries recommended changing the relationship between the built environment and the way we live and work.

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ARCHITECTURE AS COLLECTIVE WORK BY TYA WINN, NOMA, LEED GREEN ASSOCIATE “The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see.” – Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead (1943) The mythology of architecture has consistently starred the architect’s ego, making it central to the story line. The architect is always singular — and deified, and buildings are seen as the physical manifestation of the architect’s prowess and superiority over the basic laws of the earth. Our collective fable has created a Frankensteinian persona that has endured, from the master builder to the starchitect, to whom singular creative and technical responsibility are ascribed. The resulting power dynamics have divided the design field, aggrandizing those at the top with naming rights and equity in firms, while relegating those at the bottom to the role of invisible supporters. The last few years have seen a serious inward look at the practice and process of making buildings, and there have been calls for broad change. Politics, gender, and pay equity; community engagement; and office culture have all been questioned, and demands for reform have rung out. The next big shift in the field will undoubtedly be the return of collectivism as both a mode and standard for practice. The acknowledgment and celebration of building design as a collaborative process, conducted by team, will reinforce the positive synergies already present in the design process. Whether “design build” or “integrated design,” building coordination and production are more streamlined and efficient when trust and teamwork are centered. Philadelphia is a city that prides itself in hard work and grit, one that has a long history of celebrating the process of making buildings with outward expression. These are old lessons that we can now reinterpret to define how offices function. As the field has embraced new technologies and benchmarking systems, niche specialization has created industry striation and broadened career opportunities. This allows the field of design to stay




competitive and attract young and promising talent to positions that reflect their diverse talents, and it is also advancing the field by challenging standards and improving the tools needed to adjust the role of the architect. Philadelphia has a natural role to play in this, for we have always celebrated and rooted for the underdogs, those who fight personal battles to achieve their full potential. This energy can be projected onto our students, young graduates, and apprentices as they hone their skills and prepare to become the future leaders of the industry. Collectivism is challenging the system of power in offices. The expectations put on emerging designers have begun to change, starting in the schools, where studio culture had to adapt to the ongoing pandemic and the reality of remote work, while acknowledging life quality and health issues like mental health and work/life balance. Gone are the days when it was expected that lower level staff or interns would continue to work for little or no pay. Even the definition of who can be classified as an intern has changed to ensure that compensation is commensurate with experience. While some large firms are holding fast to the model of an office that is headed by a larger-than-life individual, with a battalion of assistants working to forward his designs, there are broad countercurrents, with many large offices moving to unionize and adopt a collective power structure. Change has already arrived. At this time, one of the world’s top firms, Zaha Hadid Architects, is employee-owned. Philadelphia is ready to join this trend. Our economy has been shaped by unions, from factory workers to civil servants, and our history is marked by demonstrations of

what collective voices can achieve in the name of the greater good. The movement toward collectivity is reinforced by current events. There are renewed calls for improvements to public spaces and public buildings, and many political conversations and movements are focused on improving the health, safety, and welfare of the general public — which is also the architect’s ultimate responsibility. Shifts in design thinking have recentered the end user in the design process, and project leaders are prioritizing participatory processes and community engagement as tools for achieving optimum design results and navigating polarized politics and approval processes. In addition, the national AIA has embraced the idea of the citizen architect, calling upon members to engage more actively in advocacy and legislative decision making in their communities. This is nothing new in Philadelphia, where the design industry has always embraced local service. These are all examples of a rising wave of change happening across the field, carrying with it the promise of a much more exciting future. Embracing a spirit of collectivism both expands the realm of the profession and brings practitioners together in collaboration. The network grows, strengthening the power of design but transforming the role of the designer. By shedding ego, we can fortify the purpose and image of the architect and embody the motto of our hometown: Philadelphia Maneto (May brotherly love endure). Tya Winn is the Executive Director of the Community Design Collaborative, an Adjunct Professor at both Temple and Jefferson Universities, and a design advocate.

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EMBRACING DENSITY BY ALAN GREENBERGER, FAIA We live in the fifth densest large city in the United States. At around 11,700 people per square mile, Philadelphia ranks behind only Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and New York. To put this in context, Phoenix and San Antonio, with populations nearly identical to ours, have densities under 3,200 people per square mile. The point here is that we have lived in this high-density city pretty much from its founding in 1691. While we don’t always behave as we should, we do understand many of the unwritten rules of density that make living in close quarters tolerable and even enjoyable. However, in a city blessed by a very workable street grid and an extensive transit network, we don’t seem to get density right anymore. With the growth of our population and businesses in the last 20 years, we look new demands for density squarely in the eye and generally run away. Yet, we have nowhere to expand. If we wish to grow, we are going to have to figure out how to make density work. Let’s look at “BIG D” density around transit and “small d” density in our neighborhoods. Outside of Center City, the development around most of our transit corridors is generally low density. The new zoning law of 2012 offered the possibility of “BIG D” higher density at such locations. But that requires designation by the local Councilmember—in effect, a zoning change. Few, if any, Council members jumped at the opportunity. We know that zoning is but one of the factors that shape development. Market demand and affordability play major roles in determining what does or doesn’t happen as well. So, like any issue in the urban world, we must attack the problem from multiple angles. We need to renew our commitment to building more densely near transit. We need to create additional, by right, incentives. This is called “good planning.” Working with communities, good planning has its eye on what is good today. But it also has its eye on what is good for those who cannot be at the table right now, Philadelphia citizens of the future. In the neighborhoods, we suffer from a different, “small d” density problem. We have thousands of homeowners living on fixed incomes who want to stay in their homes, but find it increas-


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ingly difficult to do so as taxes and maintenance costs rise. We need to give them tools to monetize their property. We need to make legal the creation of rental units within their homes. There is a special opportunity to do this in the thousands of homes that were built tall to accommodate alley-accessed garages underneath. These properties often have ground level street entrances that allow for the easy conversion of the lower level to a rental unit. The zoning law of 2012 proposed this, only to have it shot down in Council. It’s time to reconsider. We also need to get beyond the false zoning premise that sameness in our housing stock is always better. Philadelphia has numerous examples of successful projects and neighborhoods that have embraced variety in housing types and density, too. West Philadelphia, Germantown and Mt. Airy are replete with higher-rise apartment houses mixed into single-family neighborhoods. Where small homes and larger homes co-exist, market values vary as well, making such neighborhoods more open to a diverse population. If we embrace density more clearly and with responsibility, we will greatly improve the livability of our city. Alan Greenberger, FAIA, is an architect who practiced with MGA Partners for 34 years. He was Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development during the Nutter administration, during which time he directed the remaking of the Philadelphia Zoning Code as well as the creation of the Philadelphia 2035 plan. Currently, he is Vice President for Real Estate and Development at Drexel University.


more than fifty development projects, which will include 3,000 residential units, more than 500,000 square feet of office space, and more than 250,000 square feet of retail. In addition, it features recently completed historical renovations, including the Divine Lorraine Hotel and the Metropolitan. The report also spotlights “coming soon” projects, which include the LVL North at 510 North Broad, which will be the largest wood-framed modular construction project on the East Coast, and the Beury Building, which served as a designated air raid shelter during World War II. In fact, it was the biggest of the twenty-eight shelters in Philadelphia, holding 2600 people. However, North Broad development is more than amazing designs and construction. Like the American Institute of Architects, whose declared mission is to create architecture that strengthens communities, North Broad is using development as a tool for changing the built environment and contributing to the creation of human infrastructure, which includes equitable job creation, health, and safety. For example, LVL North is anticipated to create long-term job growth, spurred by the construction of 50,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and approximately 60,000 square feet of second-floor commercial space. In addition, LVL North will replace a surface parking lot with mixed-use construction that will provide a range of commercial benefits to the neighborhood, including filling the need for a grocery store. The 138-room Beury Hotel will also have a lasting impact through long-term job generation and the promotion of community-driven investment in the neighborhood. A recently finalized Community Benefits Agreement (“CBA”) will ensure that incentives are shared among all stakeholders. We have seen what happens when we neglect our physical infrastructure. Such neglect has a direct impact on human infrastructure, and that impact is unequal. The pandemic exposed the disparity that exists in Black and Brown communities and showed that the ability to just get out and enjoy open space, which became critical during the lockdown, is not readily available in all communities. Access to the out-of-doors helped people deal better with lockdown restrictions and the stress that came with all things COVID-19. While I am a tad biased towards North Broad Street, I understand that it is important that the “next big thing” focuses on the role infrastructure projects can play in creating equitable environments cross the entire city, using development to transform the health and well-being of all communities.





HOW INFRASTRUCTURE SHAPES THE WHOLE ENVIRONMENT BY SHALIMAR THOMAS There is simply no way to talk about the next big thing without mentioning North Broad. North Broad was once referred to as the “Workshop of the World,” with amazing businesses, arts and culture, and a thriving community. The corridor boasted infrastructural icons that included the Metropolitan Opera House and the Philadelphia Inquirer clock tower. More than this physical infrastructure, however, North Broad supported a robust culture that shaped the built environment and social climate of the time. Today, North Broad Street is making its comeback. The newly released 2022 State of North Broad report, created in partnership with Econsult Solutions, highlights efforts to spur stronger and more inclusive growth along the corridor. North Broad today has

Shalimar Thomas is the Executive Director of the North Broad Renaissance, a Philadelphia-based Special Service District supporting vitalization efforts along North Broad Street, from City Hall to Butler Streets. Learn more at

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BLT Architects East Market, a name that references the turnaround of Philadelphia’s Market East district, is a pedestrian-oriented urban center. Comprised of three full city blocks, this 4.3-acre mixed-use development in the heart of Center City balances large retail establishments with artisanal shopping and dining experiences, state-ofthe-art loft-style offices, contemporary living options, a boutique hotel, a specialty healthcare pavilion, underground parking and loading, and state-of-the-art digital signage. The first four phases are complete: a 17-story residential tower with 322 residential units; an 8-story 150,000 SF office building; a 23-story residential tower with 240 residential units; and Canopy by Hilton, a 236-key hotel within the historic Stephen Girard Building. The fifth phase is now under construction; a 441,689 SF

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medical office building. The final and sixth phase is currently being pre-planned. The overall site is divided east-west into thirds by Ludlow and Clover Streets, both privately controlled. These streets provide front-door access when open and host large-scale public events when closed to vehicles. More significantly, the three blocks are additionally divided north-south by Chestnut Walk, a pedestrian-only promenade that bends through the ultimate development of 6 buildings. BLT Architects developed the East Market masterplan with a focus on how the street widths and interstitial spaces within the site are scaled appropriately for a pedestrian friendly environment. Building masses, material, hardscape, and landscape are composed to create “Outdoor Rooms” within the site. n

PROJECT: East Market Masterplan LOCATION: Market to Chestnut, 11th to 12th Streets in Center City Philadelphia CLIENT: National Real Estate Development PROJECT SIZE: 4.3 acre development with 6 parcels each phased independently PROJECT TEAM: BLT Architects (Master Plan Design Architect) Post Master Plan (Building Project Teams) BLT Architects (Design Architect and Architect of Record) Morris Adjmi Architects (Design Architect) Ennead (Design Architect and Architect of Record) Matthews Nielsen (Landscape Design) Margie Ruddick (Landscape Design) The Harman Group (Structural Design) RG Vanderweil (MEP Design) Bala Engineering (MEP Design) JB&B (MEP Design) Pennoni (Civil Engineering) Clemens (Construction) Hunter Roberts (Construction) LF Driscoll – Hunter Roberts Joint Venture (Construction) Tutor Perini (Construction)






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Having outgrown an ambulatory care facility with inadequate ceiling heights and disorganized layouts, Penn Medicine sought to build a new ambulatory care center in the suburbs of Philadelphia, designed for regeneration of both the site and human health. Sustainability and enhancing the experience of patients, visitors and staff were critical concerns. The project is the latest among Penn Medicine’s expanding list of multi-specialty ambulatory centers aimed at bringing convenient care closer to patients and families. Double the size of the existing Penn Medicine location in Radnor, the new facility provides comprehensive cancer care, including radiation oncology services and chemotherapy, as well as primary care, heart and vascular, orthopedic and neuroscience care. The clinical program includes six operating rooms and four endoscopy suites, along with full laboratory services. Inspired by environmental stewardship and biophilia, the design embraces nature, physically and philosophically. By blurring the distinction between indoors and outdoors, the building promotes healing and wellness for patients, and transforms a brownfield site into a lush community resource. The mixed-use campus will also include an office building, hotel and parking garage, cohesively designed with shared assets and complementary uses. The design of the parcel flips the former office park model, placing buildings at the periphery of the site and eliminating surface parking. Garages bring staff and visitors closer to their destinations and preserve large portions of the parcel for lush green spaces. n

PROJECT: Penn Medicine Radnor LOCATION: Radnor, PA CLIENT: Penn Medicine PROJECT SIZE: 250,000 sf. PROJECT TEAM: Ballinger (Architecture, Structural Engineering, Master Planning) Jonathan Alderson Landscape Architects (Landscape) The Lighting Practice (Lighting) Atelier Ten (LEED Sustainability) Stantec (MEP Engineering) Pennoni (Civil Engineering) THA Consulting, Inc. (Parking) Jensen Hughes (Life Safety) RWDI (Acoustics, Vibration, Air Quality) VDA (Vertical Transportation)

1 / Garage 2 / Ambulatory Care Center 3 / Office Building 4 / Hotel 5 / Public Transportation

Conspectus (Specifications) Lerch Bates (Materials Management) HBS (Medical Equipment) IMC Construction (Construction)

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Rebuilding Community Infrastructure

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PROJECT: Miles Mack Playground Completed in Fall 2021 LOCATION: 732 N 36th, Philadelphia PA CLIENT: Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Rebuild Philadelphia PROJECT TEAM: Langan (Landscape Architect and Civil Engineer) In Focus Planning (Concept Playground Design) KS Engineers (Civil Engineering) Chestnut Engineering (MEP Engineer) Bittenbender Construction, LP (General Contractor)


“Rebuild” is the City of Philadelphia’s historic investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in neighborhood parks, recreation centers and libraries across Philadelphia. Proposed in Mayor Jim Kenney’s first budget as a part of his vision for a more equitable Philadelphia, Rebuild’s promise to acknowledge history, engage the community and invest intentionally seeks to uplift pivotal community spaces, empower neighborhoods, and promote economic opportunity through diversity and inclusion. Rebuild’s impact will be felt throughout Philadelphia giving residents recreation and library facilities improvements that are long deserved. In total, Rebuild will invest in 72 sites in neighborhoods throughout the city. Rebuild currently boasts a Minority and Women-owned business participation rate in professional service and construction contracts of over 66%. Philadelphians are seeing their local projects led by both dedicated public servants working for the city, and by over 20 non-profit partners (Project Users) who are tasked with ensuring community feedback throughout the design process and seeing projects through to completion. n


PROJECT: Olney Recreation Center Currently in construction. LOCATION: 100 E Godfrey Ave, Philadelphia PA CLIENT: Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Rebuild Philadelphia PROJECT: East Poplar Playground

PROJECT USER: Public Health Management Corporation

Completed in Fall 2021 LOCATION: 808 N 8th St, Philadelphia PA


CLIENT: Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Rebuild Philadelphia

Antoine Johnson, LLC (Project User Owner Representative) Kelly Maiello, Inc. (Architect)


Ground Reconsidered, LLC (Landscape Architect)

Ground Reconsidered, LLC (Landscape Architect)

Hunt Engineering Co. (Civil Engineer)

KS Engineers, PC (Civil Engineer)

Bittenbender Construction, LP (General Contractor)

Arora Engineers, Inc., Inc. (MEP Engineer)


D’Angelo Bros., Inc. (General Contractor)



Pedestrian-scale lighting should be provided at all high pedestrian traffic locations.

Street tree spacing could be tighter, approximately 25-feet on­center, leading up to intersection to create greater visual density. The spacing could spread out to a wider spacing at the mid-block section, approximately 50 to 60-feet on-center.

Continuous site walls fronted with mown lawn would help visually narrow the road, create a permanent defined edge for the meadow, and introduce an iconic architectural element. The mown lawn with trees orients a more conventional landscape toward public views and helps to buffer the rustic aesthetic of the meadow down the center of the median.

PROJECT: Roosevelt Boulevard Route for Change LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA CLIENT: City of Philadelphia Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability PROJECT SIZE: 14 miles PROJECT TEAM:



Few roads are as iconic and vital, yet complex, as Roosevelt Boulevard. The 14-mile project includes an extensive number of interim improvements to make it safe, accessible, and reliable for all users, especially for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. The width and length of Roosevelt Boulevard provides the opportunity to make interim landscape improvements that will enhance the experience of its multi-modal travelers and strengthen the Boulevard’s aesthetics. Both the original concept of the Boulevard as a parkway and the program’s recommendations share the vision that a well-designed roadway can be an asset to communities, not a divisive force. The Boulevard’s medians create a unique opportunity to incorporate public art that would be accessible to a wide audience in a meaningful way. They also presents an opportunity to create a more ecologically responsible Boulevard through its landscape planting. For Roosevelt Boulevard to welcome every mode of travel and bolster the social and economic vibrancy of 20 neighboring communities, a long-term transformation is necessary. The program developed two

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HTNB (Project Management, Visioning, Planning, and Modeling) Ground Reconsidered (Landscape Architecture and Streetscape) Toole Design Group (Bicycle Network Planning) Portfolio Associates (Traffic Engineering)

alternatives for the project partners to further analyze and explore with neighborhood stakeholders. The alternatives include a partially capped expressway and a neighborhood boulevard. There are four key building blocks common to both alternatives that would give people more effective options when traveling along the Boulevard: 1. Reduced Posted Speed Limits; 2. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in dedicated lanes; 3. Two-Way Cycle Tracks; and 4. Widened and Continuous Sidewalks.

Both alternatives offer paths toward improving access across the Boulevard by reducing the number of lanes. Currently, the Boulevard is typically at-grade and 12 lanes wide. The partially capped expressway includes four below-grade expressway lanes and four at-grade local (outer) lanes. The neighborhood boulevard includes six at-grade general-purpose lanes. The program also envisioned transit-oriented land uses surrounding the BRT stations for both alternatives. n


Hinge Collective Hinge Collective is working in partnership with the City of Philadelphia to complete a 10-year strategic plan for the planting and care of Philly’s urban forest guided by the values of sustainability, community engagement, and environmental justice. LIDAR data showed a 6% decline in urban tree canopy cover from 2008 to 2018; an alarming downward trend for a city with only 20% canopy cover overall. The need for an urban forest strategic plan was borne out of a response to the canopy change data, but it became immediately clear that there was another aspect of the data that was even more troubling. The tree canopy aligned with wealthier neighborhoods and was conspicuously absent in places with higher rates of poverty. Hinge Collective, a public interest design firm, led a team of community organizers, policy experts, urban forestry professionals, geospatial analysts, and visual communicators to address this challenge. The project team recognized that the way in which the plan was developed would be critically important to building public trust and support. Over 8000 residents participated in a multipronged approach that included an ambassador program, over 30 community meetings, an instagram photo challenge, virtual open house presentations, and a city-wide survey. The outcome of this engagement is a deep understanding of how the work of urban for-





estry can support communities as well as new partners in implementing the plan recommendations. The plan includes recommendations for policy change that will reshape the landscape of Philadelphia city-wide, as well as regional strategies that focus on repairing the effects of systemic injustices of the past and present. Aspects of the plan will be implemented immediately while others will require sustained effort to reach the impact goals of reducing disparities in heat island effects, health risks, economic opportunity, and supporting ecological resilience. n

PROJECT: The Philly Tree Plan LOCATION: Philadelphia CLIENT: Philadelphia Parks and Recreation PROJECT SIZE: Citywide Planning PROJECT TEAM: Hinge Collective (Lead) Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation (Urban Policy Consultant) Azavea (Geospatial Analysis) SavATree (Urban Forestry Consultant) Little Giant Creative (Communications and Graphic Design)


Rising Sons (Community Organizing) Glen Environmental (Environmental Policy Consultant) SCH Photography (Photography and Educator) Herb White (Arborist Educator)

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CLEMENS CONSTRUCTION COMPANY Building with vision, grit and heart since 1979.

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Architecture + Design Education Since 1981, CFAD’s Architecture in Education program partnered with the School District of Philadelphia schools to deliver free programming to educate students about the value of architecture and design. In 2017, CFAD launched a reinvigorated program aligned with current teaching methods to allow the Architecture and Design Education (ADE) Program to expand beyond architecture to encompass a more robust design thinking curriculum. VISIT for more information.

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Reconsidered Ground Landscape Architecture

230 S. Broad Street, Suite 604

Philadelphia, PA 19102


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NOV 9 - 11 The Forum on Architecture + Design is AIA Philadelphia’s regional education and expo conference. The Forum focuses on curating multidisciplinary educational content for designers, civic leaders, product manufacturers, technology providers, and real estate developers - all the industries that contribute to shaping our built environment. The Forum is soliciting programs, tours, exhibitors, and sponsors to fulfill our robust programming goals. Visit for more information. This year’s Forum will be held at the Center for Architecture and Design, 1218 Arch Street

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Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.