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City of Philadelphia

For Construction Projects

The Art Commission shall approve the design and proposed location of any building, bridge and its approaches, arch, gate, fence, or other structure or fixture to be paid for, either wholly or in part from the City Treasury or for which the City or any other public authority is to furnish a site.
Applicants should forward to the Commission a package containing the following:

1. A cover letter requesting Commission approval and containing:

  • a narrative description of the project. Note, this is not merely a transmittal form, it must be a complete description of the proposal! This narrative should include applicable information on existing conditions of the site and functional reasons for the proposed actions as well as the proposed design. Revised or follow-up submissions must describe how they differ from the original proposal and if applicable, respond to concerns expressed by the Committees or Commission.
  • the name, mailing address and e-mail address of the person to whom the decision should be sent and the name phone number and e-mail address of someone who can answer questions about the application.

2. Color photographs (please, no low resolution cell phone photos or Google street views), at least 3" x 5", showing the site and its immediate surroundings as they presently exist.

3. Drawings of the proposed design, drawn to scale, with all dimensions, materials, and colors clearly labeled. The number of drawings required to adequately describe a proposal will vary with the complexity of the project. A typical submission would include:

Site Plan(s) - showing the location of the site with adjacent streets and land uses labeled and the location of all features and improvements on the site. Landscaping may be shown here or on a separate landscape plan.

Plan view of proposal

Elevations of proposal - All elevations of a structure should be shown. The main façade elevation should be rendered to accurately portray proposed materials and colors unless separate rendered views are also being provided.

4. Project Budget, including sources of funding, particularly City of Philadelphia Capital funds.

5. All proposals for new construction and major additions or renovations must include a statement from the Public Art Office regarding eligibility for the Percent for Art Program.
Review Process:
Commission staff may, upon reviewing the initial submission, request additional information such as color and material samples, landscape plans, sections or more detailed drawings or narrative of certain project elements, including interiors.

Commission staff will review the initial submission and determine which of the following types of review will be necessary:

Proposals which have no visual impact at all such as flat roof replacements or interior mechanical work may be signed off immediately by staff. Please note that staff must be able to verify that work is not visible by examining the submission materials. Please make sure that contractors seeking permits for these jobs have photographs of the project area with them when they visit the Commission office!

Routine proposals involving changes and repairs that will have minimal visual impact on their settings may receive what is known as an “administrative approval.” This means that staff determines that the proposal is acceptable and places it on the Commission’s next meeting agenda to be endorsed without further presentation. Note, final sign off does not occur until after the meeting.

Projects that will have more than a minimal visual impact, including all new construction and most additions, will require presentation by the applicant to the Commission’s Art + Architecture Committee. Note, reviews are not limited to exterior and site work. Information must be included for public interior spaces that will be affected by the proposed work. The additional information described above must be included in submissions for presentation. The Committee meets on the first Wednesday of each month. Its recommendations are then acted upon by the full Art Commission at its regular meeting which takes place immediately following the Committee meeting.

For proposals requiring presentations, the applicant must provide a total of twelve (12) copies of the submission package, to be distributed to Commission members prior to the meeting. Copies must be collated into 12 packages and folded, if necessary, to 8½’ x 11''. For the meeting presentation, applicants should use larger scale drawings and photographs, mounted on boards and bring with them material samples, models and any other information that will enable the Commission to fully understand the proposal. The Commission’s meeting room is also equipped for electronic presentations. Please check with staff in advance of the meeting to coordinate room setup for such presentations.

In order to be assured a place on a meeting agenda, the cover letter must be received by staff no later than two weeks prior to the meeting date. All other materials must be received no later than one week before the meeting date.

When projects must be reviewed by the Historical Commission, the Commission of Parks and Recreation or the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Art Commission will not make its decision until the others have done so. The applicant should, however, provide the Art Commission with a submission package at the same time the other applications are made.

Applicants should contact Commission staff early in the design process in order to determine an appropriate submission and review schedule.