The City has selected the team that will ask Philadelphians about the future of the former Police Administration Building located at 7th and Race Streets, also known as “the Roundhouse.” The team will be led by two experienced consultant firms: Connect the Dots and Amber Art and Design. They will begin work in May and begin talking to community groups in the summer.
The community engagement process is a big first step for redevelopment of the Roundhouse. The team will ask people across the city about they think should happen to the old Police headquarters. The answers people give will help the City guide the terms of sale for the building.
Connect the Dots and Amber Art and Design have experience working with underrepresented communities in Philadelphia. Their joint proposal showed their skills that this project will use, like trauma-informed public engagement, planning for racial equity, outreach to multiple constituencies, conflict resolution, real estate economics, public space design, and engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They will also conduct youth outreach through One’s Up, led by Alex Peay.
The team also has an advisory group made up of Mindy Fullilove, MD; WSP USA; and SITIO architecture + urbanism.
“This is a new process for us,” said Ian Litwin, a planner at the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and project lead for the Roundhouse. “We want citywide engagement because the site represents something to communities all across the city.”
The Roundhouse was designed in 1959 and dedicated in 1963. At the time of the building’s construction, the City of Philadelphia practiced “urban renewal,” where entire city blocks were cleared for future development. The building’s unique shape and heavy concrete form are notable features that also make redevelopment challenging.
The team is sensitive to the complicated relationship many Philadelphians, especially communities of color, have with the Roundhouse.
“We recognize the importance of reflecting on the history of community trauma as the City looks to the future,” said Marisa Denker, CEO of Connect the Dots. “Community engagement is much more than meetings. We will use many-layered methods to meet people where they are and enable the sharing of citywide stories, memories, and hopes for the site.”
The City expects a final report on the findings in early 2023.
Photo by Michael Cramer