PHILADELPHIA – Today Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) and the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS) released conceptual design ideas for public space and traffic safety improvements on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, from Logan Square to the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Developed by three world class design teams, the design concepts aim to spark discussion and new ways of thinking about the form and function of the iconic Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
“Reimagining what is possible for the parks, streets, and walkways along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is a once in a century opportunity for the City,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “Bold ideas and the best thinking from around the world will be key to developing a plan for the Parkway with the power to transform our magnificent mile into a more vibrant, more welcoming, and more people-centric public space.”
With funding from the William Penn Foundation, and support from the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation at Drexel University, the City reviewed more than a dozen proposals from world renowned design teams committed to creating a world-class public realm plan for pedestrian-centric, permanent changes that will dramatically improve the appeal, use, safety, functionality, and beauty of the Parkway. Responses were evaluated based on their range of experience; the diversity of the client team; and their approach to addressing diversity, equity and inclusion in public space and public realm design.
The City then selected three teams to develop design concepts during a five-week-long Parkway Ideas Workshop. During this time, the design teams explored the Parkway, its history, and its current uses. The teams presented their conceptual ideas and project approaches to City officials and the general public last night at the Barnes Foundation.
The three teams participating in the Ideas Workshop were:
These design leads are supported by diverse teams of local, national, and international experts.
The Workshop aimed to raise awareness of the Parkway redesign, and introduce Philadelphians to a range of possibilities for revitalizing the Parkway as a valuable and vibrant public space.
“The concepts presented by these three world class design teams represent some of the most innovative approaches to climate-resilient, multi-modal urban transportation planning,” said Deputy Managing Director for Transportation Mike Carroll. “Philadelphia has this incredible opportunity to reimagine pedestrian connections throughout the Parkway. Thanks to the Ideas Workshop, we have the benefit of globally recognized leaders in transportation engineering and urban planning poised to share their best ideas for creating a livable, walkable Parkway for all.”
Residents are welcome to review the design concepts and ideas online at www.phlparkway.com. In the coming days a survey will be posted and the City welcomes the public to share their feedback on the design elements and new approaches to transforming the Parkway. Resident feedback will be shared with the appointed design team to inform its work leading design and engagement for the Parkway transformation process.
The City will review the concepts presented during the Ideas Workshop and expects to award the community engagement and design contract for the Parkway project in Fall 2021. Engagement and design work is expected to begin later this year.
Visit phlparkway.com to view the Parkway Ideas Workshop design concepts.
About the Parkway Redesign
Since the launch of the More Park, Less Way plan in 2013, the City has completed many of the recommendations to improve safety and activate public spaces along the Parkway. The plan outlined improved traffic calming measures as well as ambitious plans to transform Eakins Oval into a pop up park as a critical foundation for re-imaging the Parkway. In that time, the City has:
Improved pavement markings to create more buffered areas that people should not drive, ride, or walk within;
Added more directional indications like arrows and messaging painted directly onto the road surface;
Added more conflict pavement markings indicating where one can expect cars and bikes crossing paths; and
Increased the number of pedestrian crosswalks indicating the best locations for pedestrians to navigate around and over the Oval and Circle.
Installed flexible delineator posts at key locations which help keep users in their lanes and help to slow excessive speeding and erratic lane changes;
Created the Winter Street Greenway, currently in progress, which includes a new playscape, play equipment, dog run, and site amenities;
Constructed Maja Park to create additional opportunities for passive recreation through new walkways, seating areas, performance plaza and installation of the iconic Maja sculpture by artist Gerhard Marcks to enliven the previously underutilized Southern side of the Parkway in front of Park Towne Place Residences in partnership with The Association for Public Art (aPA) and Aimco.
Upgraded the playground with a new sprayground and improved the fields and perimeter of Von Colln Field;
Added soft rumbles, which are raised rumble strips that discourage speeding.
Oval+ Pop Up Activations: Six week summer activations at the Eakins Oval attracted over 700,000 visitors in the first seven years (2013 – 2019).
The 2019 season at The Oval+ featured expanded public amenities and programming along the Parkway’s outer lanes via themed blocks informed by resident feedback and inspired by adjacent cultural institutions. More than 40% of visitors to the seasonal pop up said they wanted to see more family related activities at The Oval and along the Parkway.
Early 2021, with support from the William Penn Foundation, The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia, PPR, and OTIS posted a request for proposals seeking qualified professional firms specializing in urban park design and/or landscape architecture and engineering to develop a world class public realm plan to realize permanent improvements to the Parkway.
The Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability (OTIS) coordinates the implementation of Complete Streets policies in Philadelphia. Complete Streets are designed to ensure safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders. The City’s Complete Streets policy was introduced in 2009 and requires a review of every construction project’s impact on roads, sidewalks, and the bicycle and transit network to ensure that all affected streets adhere to the City policy. This policy improves safety, promotes economic development, reduces congestion, and encourages active transportation. Under the Complete Streets program, OTIS manages the City’s parklet, bike corral, Vision Zero, and pedestrian plaza programs.
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) advances the prosperity of the city and the progress of its people through stewardship of nearly 10,200 acres of public land and waterways, and management of 500 recreation buildings, 166 miles of trail, and 250 playgrounds. PPR offers safe, enjoyable recreation, environmental and cultural programs and events throughout Philadelphia’s parks and recreation system. PPR promotes the well-being and growth of the city’s residents by connecting them to the natural world, to each other and to fun, physical and social opportunities. In 2017, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell, set about implementing the park system’s first strategic plan: Our Path to 2020 and Beyond. As a result, PPR is undertaking a period of historic change, setting the department on a course to become a modern, equitable and exceptional parks and recreation system. Visit us at www.phila.gov/parksandrec, and follow @philaparkandrec on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.