Posts tagged with "Philadelphia":

Placeholder Alt Text

Philadelphians: How should architects revamp 30th Street Station?

As part of Philadelphia’s massive downtown redevelopment efforts, new plans were released on Tuesday for an integrated civic space surrounding 30th Street Station—the third-busiest Amtrak station in the country—by a design team including FXFOWLE, !melk, and ARUP. Over the next three decades, the station’s traffic is expected to double, according to a marketing brochure for the overall project, bringing renewed interest to the surrounding business district dubbed University City. The larger district improvement plan, also involving SHoP and West 8 architects, comes with a price tag of $6.5 billion. It will include a 627,000-square-foot office tower as well as the redesign of public commons and arterials that tie together the district’s core: Market Street, J.F.K. Boulevard, and Drexel Square. While 30th Street Station is currently surrounded by a closed ring of parking lots and concrete infrastructure, FXFOWLE and partners are looking to install a public plaza encircling the building. Their plan incorporates raised planters, pedestrian byways, seating areas, a public pavilion, and a food truck area. Pavers in the shape of concentric dots correspond to below-ground train routes and mirror the circular fountains and skylights incorporated into surrounding green space. According to the plan, the taxi and automotive area—which utilizes about 50% of the space at present—will be relocated to a transportation zone at one side of the station, opening up the decongested space to foot circulation and flexible programming. In addition to increased pedestrian traffic, this move will also allow room for a new underground entrance at the West Portico; the entrance is an unbuilt feature of the station’s original 1934 plans. The plan, in its entirety, is designed to decongest the area around the station and reinvigorate a historic railway, connecting it to other developments in the comprehensive plan and the adjacent Schuylkill River. Amtrak and the project’s team have opened up the renderings (viewable here) for public comment via an online survey (accessible here). Garnering opinions from commuters, visitors and locals alike, the survey will be open until 8 pm on Wednesday, July 26, 2017.
Placeholder Alt Text

SteelStacks wins Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence Gold Medal

The SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has been named as the winner of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) Gold Medal. Meanwhile, four other projects won silver medals as the RBA, in celebrating its 30th year, awarded the five winners in recognition of transformative places that positively impact the economic, environmental, and social make-up of American cities. The SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus was awarded the Gold Medal and $50,000. By 1995, the mill, which once supplied steel for WWII battleships, the Chrysler Building, and Golden Gate Bridge, was deserted. The $93.5 million adaptive re-use project was finished in 2016 and turned the abandoned facility into a 9.5-acre mixed-use cultural hub that makes a nod to its industrial past. This reference to history is achieved through a public plaza that features blast furnaces as a backdrop to more modern structures including the Levitt Pavilion outdoor amphitheater, Bethlehem Visitor Center, ArtsQuest Center, PBS39 public broadcasting center, and Hoover-Mason Trestle Park. A year after its completion, the site has attracted 1.5 million visitors, many of whom attend events taking place such as free outdoor concerts. "We are honored to be named the 2017 Rudy Bruner Award Gold Medalist for the SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus,” said Tony Hanna, executive director of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Bethlehem. “It's fitting that the award coincides with the 275th anniversary of the founding of the City of Bethlehem, as the development of the campus embodies many of the same attributes that went into Bethlehem’s development—vision, collaboration, creativity, public engagement, perseverance, tenacity, and commitment. The Redevelopment Authority and its campus partners have provided our community with a public gift, a place that is helping to reinvent and redefine our city while embracing and celebrating its cherished industrial past." The four other finalists who were awarded the Silver Medal (along with $10,000 each) are as follows: Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building Boston, MA A complex integrating public school headquarters, community meeting space, retail, and transit. (Submitted by City of Boston). Chicago Riverwalk Phases 2 and 3 Chicago, IL A pedestrian park providing access to the river and new waterfront amenities. (Submitted by Sasaki). Iberville Offsite Rehabs 1 & 2 New Orleans, LA The rehabilitation of 46 scattered site historic homes for homeless women and children. (Submitted by Kronberg Wall Architects/Planners). La Kretz Innovation Campus + Arts District Park Los Angeles, CA A demonstration facility promoting clean technologies and the city’s green economy. (Submitted by Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects). The 2017 selection committee comprised:
  • Knox White – Mayor, Greenville, SC
  • Kimberly Driggins – Director of Strategic Planning, City of Detroit Planning and Development Department, Detroit, MI
  • David Lee, FAIA – President, Stull and Lee Incorporated, Architects, Boston, MA
  • Willett Moss – Principal, CMG Landscape Architecture, San Francisco, CA
  • Deidre Schmidt – President & CEO, CommonBond Communities, Minneapolis, MN
  • Scot Spencer – Associate Director for Advocacy and Influence, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD
Placeholder Alt Text

Major landscape design competition announced for Philadelphia International Airport

An airport is the gateway to any city: It’s the first—and last—thing a visitor sees. In a push to establish Philadelphia as America’s ‘Garden Capital,’ the Philadelphia International Airport is launching a landscape design competition to transform the airport into an icon of the city. The airport is collaborating with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) for the competition. With 130 acres of natural and planted lands that surround the airport as a canvas, it’s an opportunity to re-image the transportation hub. “The experience of any city’s airport sets the tone for the traveler; the landscape around the airport plays a vital role in setting that tone,” according to the PHS website. The goal of the competition is to place Philadelphia’s airport at the forefront, creating an iconic, “Image Maker” airport that will leave lasting impressions on travelers arriving and departing the city. The design should also consider sustainability and resiliency as an objective. The competition will launch on June 8, when the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) will be distributed. Responses for the RFQ are due by July 21, 2017. From there, four finalists will be selected by a jury. Each finalist will receive a $20,000 stipend to develop a budget and a “thoughtful, creative, environmentally appropriate concept plan,” according to PHS. The concept plan should also provide details for the airport to seek funding for design development and phased construction implementation. Further details and the full application can be found over at PHS’s website.
Placeholder Alt Text

New renderings and info unveiled for Philly’s 14-acre Schuylkill Yards project

New images of the Schuylkill Yards project penned for Philadelphia have been released, along with a fancy fly-through film and a new website that details new information. In addition to this, an interactive map outlines 12 of the 14 proposed new buildings for the 14-acre site which lies off the Schuylkill River. The master plan incorporates Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, the third-busiest Amtrak station in the country. 30th Street will see an influx in usage if New York-based SHoP Architects and Netherlands-based landscape architects West 8 are as successful as the project intends to be. "It is estimated that over the next three decades, renewed interest in rail travel will bring twice as many people into this already bustling transportation hub," read a line from a marketing brochure on the project. SHoP and West 8's plans work around the station seem to place priority on public space (of which there will be 6.5 million square feet, denoted as "greenspace and improved streetscape") in the vicinity. Four public spaces were outlined in the brochure:
  1. Drexel Square will feature an elliptical lawn and supposedly represent the "continuation of William Penn’s original vision for the city’s 'public room.'" The area will be active during the day and night and is set to "serve as the gateway into University City from Center City and 30th Street Station."
  2. JFK Boulevard is due to be transformed into a "shared esplanade" linking 30th Street Station with the Armory building. This space will act as an overspill area for commuters and visitors leaving the station, safely integrating pedestrians, bikes, and cars in the same space, "while providing a rich new greenway for the public."
  3. Market Street, a well-known thoroughfare in Philly, will receive new bicycle and pedestrian lanes, as well as trees that will line the street to counteract noise and pollution.
  4. The Wintergarden. Renders for the space show an elevated, balustrade-encased area overlooking the streets filled with greenery and families. The surrounding area appears to be laboratories, so it is unclear if this is a specific public space. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) reached out to the developers (Brandywine Realty Trust and Drexel University) for clarification and is waiting to hear back.
Meanwhile, a 627,000-square-foot office tower, "3101 Market East," is in line to be built, as is a hotel covering 247,000 square feet. The $6.5 billion scheme is part of the "University City" development which will be home for many Philly-based universities and institutions, including: Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of the Sciences, Lincoln University, the Science Center, and the Wistar Institute. According to a press release, the Schuylkill Yards project "has the potential to add 25,000 new jobs and create millions of dollars in new tax revenue." Part of it overlaps the Keystone Innovation Zone, a program started by the state of Pennsylvania to encourage start-up companies to come to Philadelphia. It will give residents and businesses tax benefits (up to $100,000 annually) and "further stimulate investment and growth in the community." This hopes to draw science and research-based companies to University City, which offers a Science Center which is undergoing major changes itself. The center recently expanded its 17-acre physical campus, which has been rebranded as uCity Square, to encompass a total of 27 acres. It houses 15 existing buildings, a 16th  is under construction, and nine additional buildings are planned over the next 10 years. In past coverage of the Schuylkill Yards, AN's Will Barlow noted that in a report from last year, firms that were incubated at the Science Center bring $12.9 billion to the Greater Philadelphia economy each year.
Placeholder Alt Text

With Kahn, Venturi, and others, a new exhibition explores the Philadelphia School

A new exhibition at the University of Pennsylvania highlights the work of the Philadelphia architects whose work resisted modernism. The school is hosting a monthlong exhibition on the work of Louis Kahn, Robert Venturi, Romaldo Giurgola, and others who were affiliated with Penn's architecture program. In considering its subjects, "What was the Philadelphia School?" uses a 1961 Progressive Architecture article that called Louis Kahn the "spiritual leader" of the Philadelphia School as its point of critical departure. “There are some architectural historians who have the view that the term ‘Philadelphia School’ isn’t really a school—it’s just a bunch of people who were at Penn at one time. We’re pushing back against that,” exhibition co-organizer Izzy Kornblatt told Curbed. The school claims that "What was the Philadelphia School?" is one of the first to consider the affiliated architects' work "as a bona fide movement reflecting a distinctive culture and set of ideas, rather than just a collection of architects united by affiliation with the university and physical proximity." The exhibition features more than 50 models and drawings, including a rare Kahn drawing from his early years and Venturi model of a concert hall that could have been built on the lot the Kimmel Center now occupies. What was the Philadelphia School? runs through April 17 at the University of Pennsylvania in College Hall.
Placeholder Alt Text

$100 million pledged for Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing interstate cap and waterfront park

The waterfront park at Penn's Landing in Philly has edged closer to realization as Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) pledged $100 million to the project which has been on the books for a decade. Despite this news, however, a timeline for the project has not been confirmed. Sited between Walnut Street and Chestnut Street, an 11-acre park will cross the I-95 and Columbus Boulevard, becoming a cap-cum-esplanade on the banks of the Delaware River. In charge of the park's design is planning and landscape architecture firm Hargreaves Associates. Senior principal of the firm's New York office (the arm covering the project) Mary Margaret Jones told The Architect's Newspaper that PennDOT would be "taking over" the scheme and Hargreaves Associates will begin working with fellow New York engineering practice Pennoni. Jones explained that the news follows a "rigorous and comprehensive" feasibility study which was carried out by her firm and estimated costs to come to $250 million. The park is set to connect Center City to the river and activate the water's edge as well as pave the way for establishing future development sites. The 12-acre site will include 11 acres of public space, a 50-foot-wide pedestrian esplanade along the river, and opportunities for 1,500 new residences, 500 new hotel rooms, and 75,000 feet of retail space. In doing so, the project will replace the current Great Plaza with an angled park that slopes down to the river and frames views over the water. Additionally, the South Street Pedestrian Bridge across Columbus Boulevard will be extended to the southern edge of the Penn’s Landing marina basin. According to the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, Hargreave's study "concluded such an investment would yield nearly $1.6 billion in returns to the City, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the School District of Philadelphia."
Placeholder Alt Text

1100 Architect combines an 1851 cottage with a modern research center on University of Pennsylvania’s campus

In 1865, “hat and cap merchant” Robert D. Work purchased a Gothic Revival cottage at 3803 Locust Walk in West Philadelphia, riding the wave of the migration to the suburbs. This cottage, designed by prolific architect and author Samuel Sloan, was built in 1851. It now forms part of the Perry World House—a new destination on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus courtesy of New York studio 1100 Architect.

Work’s cottage 165 years ago featured fake limestone—stucco scored to look like a French stone chateau in suburban Philadelphia. Today, the new structure, which officially opened September 20, employs a closed facade featuring real limestone blocks hanging from a steel, barn-like perimeter cage.

“The project presented the challenge of putting history adjacent to modernity in the most blunt and direct way,” said cofounder of 1100 Architect David Piscuskas. Though limestone carries connotations of weight, the facade respectfully resists falling flush to the cottage’s shingles, following this sight-line down the rest of the front elevation.

In addition, a cage structure facilitates a more or less column-free interior. This provided freedom when mapping out areas of circulation and spaces for interactivity. (The building has a capacity of 554.)

“Any structural columns that are there are hidden very well,” said Piscuskas, the soon-to-be AIA president of the New York chapter. Despite the closed facade, the building maintains a sense of transparency from both outside and within. “The way that you move through this building is celebrated and is on view at all times,” Piscuskas added. From the outside, wide, metal-framed oriel windows facing the street allow passerby to see inside: Bridges, staircases, and open social spaces are all on display.

Elements of the original structure can be found inside, too. An original wall from the cottage is near the foyer. On the second floor, a meeting room translates the language of the facade as an extrusion through the space. A pitched ceiling creates a sense of verticality resulting from combining the cottage’s original second floor and attic and restructuring the roof.

On South 38th Street, the Wharton School’s imposing building once jarred with the quaint stylings of this 19th-century cottage six lanes of traffic away. Now, its impact is less severe, thanks to the new massing that still manages to mirror and echo the former suburban vernacular. Made up almost entirely of glass fenestration, the double-height venue gets a generous dose of daylight, making it an attractive place to meet. The roof comprises a series of pitches, all varying in height, which creates a contemporary expression of the original gables.

Form was also guided by inconveniences, such as a manhole encroaching on the building’s footprint. “We saw this as an opportunity to have more fun,” said Piscuskas, who described how a chunk carved from a corner was a workaround that aligned with the rest of the building’s similar geometry. The site’s topography, too, falls in line with the angular aesthetic as open space in the rear slopes down to the street.

Placeholder Alt Text

Bjarke Ingel’s first office building completed in Philadelphia

You'd be forgiven for thinking that something named "1200 Intrepid" is a ship (or at least a boat), especially when it's located at the Navy Yard Corporate Center. In fact, that is the name of Bjarke Ingels Group's (BIG) first building in Philly and first-ever office building. Spanning 92,000 square feet, 1200 Intrepid takes on ship-like qualities through more than just its name: its warped facade emulates the hull of warships docked nearby. The four-story building will occupy land between James Corner Field Operations' Central Green Park and the Navy Yard's basin. It's hull-esque facade also curves in sync with the circular layout of the adjacent park. Fenestration on this side is arranged with alternating pre-cast concrete panels that express the building's height and visually exaggerate the angle of inclination. These gradually loom over the tree-lined path that traces the edge and provides shelter of sorts for the walkway. The building's other facades offer more traditional, orthogonal elevations while maintaining the paneling facade system. “The ‘shock wave’ of the public space spreads like rings in the water, invading the footprint of the building to create a generous urban canopy at the entrance," said Ingels in a press release. "The resultant double-curved facade echoes the complex yet rational geometries of maritime architecture. Inside, the elevator lobby forms an actual periscope, allowing people to admire the mothballed ships at the adjacent docks.” Inside 1200 Intrepid, generous ceiling heights mean office spaces are bathed in sufficient amounts of daylight. A central atrium creates a dialogue between the floors: though rectangular, its twist incrementally references the building's signature facade. "In many cases, architects design big, boxy buildings that could be placed anywhere and don’t connect directly to the site," said Kai-Uwe Bergmann, a partner at BIG. "You would really be hard-pressed to place 1200 Intrepid anywhere else, due to how it connects with its surroundings. Our commission involved creating a speculative office building, for which no tenants were committed. The key challenge here was to create a reason for tenants to be here with the constraint of a stringent budget.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Francis Kéré’s diverse work featured at Philadelphia Museum of Art

Berlin-based, Burkina Faso–born Diebedo Francis Kéré is far from a typical architect, and his current one-man exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, on display through September 25, is also far from typical.

Kéré, 51, was born in Gando, an agricultural village in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, which has one of the world’s poorest and least educated populations. The first son of the tribal head of Gando, he was the only child in his village permitted to attend school, which he did in Burkina Faso’s second largest city, not far from Gando. He apprenticed to a carpenter there and in 1985 received a scholarship for a training program in Germany. After taking night classes in Berlin to earn his high school diploma, he studied architecture at the Technische Universitate and established his architecture practice there in 2005.

One of his earliest projects—which won him the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2004 and a prominent role in MoMA’s 2010 exhibition, Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement—is the 1999–2001 primary school he designed for Gando, which illustrates the cover of MoMA’s exhibition catalogue. It consists of three detached, rectangular classrooms, constructed of adobe and cement bricks, hand-made by locals; the school is covered with a corrugated metal roof and a dry-stacked ceiling of clay bricks that lets hot air escape from the classroom interiors.

According to the MoMA catalogue—which describes the construction of the school as “truly a community endeavor”—some Gando workers who built the school subsequently became skilled laborers on other projects, while local families’ interest in the school skyrocketed, with the enrollment of children who previously did not attend school from surrounding villages.

Kéré’s work in Gando continues. It’s illustrated in the Philadelphia exhibition with photographs, and actual building materials and tools, such as clay and wood samples, machine-pressed and hand-formed bricks, and laterite stones. He has designed teachers’ housing and an extension of the primary school, both complete, while a primary school library and a center for sustainable construction technologies and research are under construction.

Tall kiosks throughout the exhibition feature photographs of Kéré’s past, present, and future projects in Africa, including the Center for Earth Architecture in Mopti, Mali, and the Obama Legacy Campus in Kogelo, Kenya, birthplace of President Barack Obama’s father, as well as his work in Europe and the United States. The former includes a Camper pop-up store at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany; an installation at this year’s Fuorisalone in Milan inspired by the social and spatial dynamics of a typical African village; and the repurposing of former military barracks in Mannheim, Germany, into a hub for local engineering industries, now under development. His only U.S. project so far is the Place for Gathering, a “seating terrain” of locally-sourced wood that was designed for visitors from around the world attending the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Also unusual in the Philadelphia exhibition is the subject matter and presentation of three videos, all shot in Africa and never displayed before. One video about a recently built school in Koudougou, Burkina Faso, depicts many stages of the project, all performed by locals without the use of heavy machinery. Seating here is provided by chairs made in Philadelphia, using the same materials (steel rebar and plywood) and design as Kéré’s chairs for Burkina Faso schools. Another video, which depicts overhead enclosures—including tree canopies, traditional thatch, and modern roofs made of steel trusses—was shot skyward and is shown on a large monitor hanging from the ceiling; a viewing platform below encourages visitors to lie back and observe. The third video, projected from the ceiling directly onto the floor below, explores the concept of shadow, whether in a classroom with chalkboards and desks, or under a baobab tree, and how shadows facilitate learning. One can walk into the projection, literally stepping into the gathering place.

Visitors pass the final part of the exhibition, a site-specific installation called Colorscape, as they enter the exhibition’s primary gallery, Suspended from the museum’s ceiling are steel frames threaded with hundreds of pieces of Philadelphia-made lightweight cord in many different colors. The rectilinear layout of the frames represents the formally-planned grid of William Penn’s Philadelphia, while the paths and spaces carved from the mass of strings represent the organic grid of Gando.

Those passing through the variously colored elements also can hear the Sounds of the Village, audio recorded in both Burkina Faso and Philadelphia, the former including sounds of the wind, birds, and chickens, the latter sounds of local streets and a Philadelphia Flyers hockey game. Just as Kéré enlists local people to work on his projects in Africa, Philadelphians—including University of Pennsylvania architecture students, museum staff, volunteers, and visitors—helped construct this installation.

In Gando and other agrarian societies, children learn from their elders, who teach them orally; they also learn by doing. Similarly, since he started his practice, Kéré has aimed to communicate design and architecture simply and directly, to be understood by African laborers not educated in reading sophisticated plans or architectural drawings, as well as by children. All these concepts inform the Philadelphia exhibition, stimulating thought and visual pleasure.

The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community runs through September 25, 2016. For more on the exhibit, visit here.
Placeholder Alt Text

More details emerge on massive redevelopment for Philadelphia’s University City

University City, a neighborhood in central Philadelphia, on the Schuylkill River, is in for some major changes in the coming decades, thanks to a new redevelopment initiative from Amtrak with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), BrandywineRealty Trust, and Drexel University. 30th Street Station will be the center point of the overhaul, which is part of a vision to build a dense urban neighborhood over a rail yard along the river.

The redevelopment site consists of a total of 175 acres in University City, 88 of which are occupied by the rail yard. The report and renderings released in the 30th Street Station District Plan are the culmination of a two-year study of the site, which extends east of Drexel’s campus, between Walnut and Spring Garden streets, and northeast from 30th Street Station.

The ambitious plan will be put into place over the course of 35 years, starting with capping off the existing Amtrak rail yard to accommodate a proposed 10 million square feet of development. The area will see a total of 18 million square feet of new development and will include housing for ten thousand residents. It will also offer 1.2 million square feet of commercial space to an individual corporate or institutional tenant.

Currently, 30th Street Station serves as one of the central hubs for Amtrak trains on the East Coast and is also a stop on the SEPTA Regional Rail line. The station building, along with the rail yard, is owned by Amtrak and was last renovated in 1991. One prominent feature of the station is the Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial, a 28-foot bronze sculpture of Michael the archangel.

The project is expected to cost $6.5 billion, with $2 billion going to infrastructure investments and the other $4.5 billion to private investment. Among the infrastructure improvements may be the relocation of a ramp for the Schuylkill Expressway in favor of an intercity bus terminal. A new pedestrian plaza will surround the existing train station.

Preliminary renderings put emphasis on expanding parks and public spaces, as well as adding high-rise commercial and residential buildings to the area. According to the official report released by the district, an opportunity exists for the plaza around the station to become a “central civic space,” akin to the one at city hall. The station saw 11 million passengers last year, and the district expects ridership to double by 2040, following Amtrak and SEPTA improvements. The development counts on this ridership to anchor growth around the station.

The name University City was coined as a marketing tactic, in the 1950s, as part of a gentrification effort, to encourage faculty of the University of Pennsylvania and, to a lesser degree, Drexel University to move there.

This redevelopment isn’t the first sign of growth for the neighborhood. Much of University City is a designated “Keystone Innovation Zone,” a program started by the state of Pennsylvania to encourage start-up companies to populate Philadelphia. The program offers tax breaks of up to $100,000 annually for businesses younger than eight years old operating in the Innovation Zone. New companies in the science and research fields are also drawn to the incubator at the University City Science Center, which is in the process of a major expansion. According to a recent report, firms that were incubated at the Science Center bring $12.9 billion to the Greater Philadelphia economy each year.

Amtrak’s first steps are expected to be finalizing the design of the pedestrian plaza and receiving permission from PennDOT to relocate the highway ramp. More detail on the plan can be found here.

Placeholder Alt Text

Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park Welcome Center undergoes a retrofit

With its limited financial resources, Philadelphia can’t save all the buildings in the city that deserve protection. But one structure that city officials are preserving is the 1960 Fairmount Park Welcome Center at JFK Plaza/LOVE Park, a round pavilion that locals have dubbed the “saucer” due to its Jetson-like qualities.

Designed by Roy Larson of Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson, the building renovation is part of a $16.5 million upgrade to LOVE Park, at John F. Kennedy Boulevard and North 15th Street, well known for its Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture. The work is being described as a retrofit rather than a pure restoration.

Local firm KieranTimberlake will head the Welcome Center upgrade and prepare the building for use as both a visitor center and setting for a food and beverage operation. Hargreaves Associates is the landscape architect leading the park makeover, slated for completion by spring 2017, and Pentagram is the graphic designer.

The Welcome Center is getting energy-efficient glazing, a green roof, upgraded systems, and improvements to make it more accessible to the disabled. As part of the project, Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy commissioned Chromoscope, a ceiling mural by husband and wife artists Tom Drugan and Laura Haddad of Seattle, under its “percent for art” program.

According to the artists, who are working with local lighting design firm The Lighting Practice, the ceiling mural is made with aluminum panels printed in saturated colors with archival ink. The image is composed of distinct patterns in separate colors, layered and blended to create an abstract pattern. In daylight, all of the layered images will be visible at once, resulting in an abstract pattern.

At night, red, green, and blue LED lights will transition through a variety of hues, durations, and sequences on the mural. The timing, speed, and type of color fades can be composed to create a variety of effects for different times and events. As the light color changes, the imagery changes, resulting in a kinetic optical effect that appears to animate the structure itself.

“The art reinstates the pavilion’s original lighting concept as a ‘lantern,’ but will be visually dynamic and compelling at all times,” the artists said. “From a distance, the dynamic pattern will embody the motion and modernist power of the original Welcome Center, which was conceived as an emblem of futurist ambition.”

Placeholder Alt Text

SEPTA takes 120 cars out of service due to structural defects

Over the holiday weekend, SEPTA revealed that it had taken a third of its passenger rail cars out of service due to "structural defects." 120 Silverliner V cars will be out of commission until crucial repairs are performed. According to an agency spokeswoman, the six-year-old cars were taken off the tracks July 1 after staff noticed some of the cars leaning off-center, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Due to the fleet's overnight shrinkage, some stakeholders raised concerns over commuting delays post-July 4. Those fears of long waits and crowded trains were borne out in full: With 12,000 fewer seats, some commuters are experiencing travel times double and triple the usual length. Local news outlets report riders standing between cars, and recommend alternative forms of transit. Rideshare apps Uber and Lyft are capitalizing on the SEPTA fiasco: Uber's offering 40 percent discount on rides to and from regional rail stations, while Lyft is offering $50 off the first ride for new users. For all the hassle, SEPTA maintains that the car's flaws don't threaten riders' safety, and the decision to take cars offline was done out of an abundance of caution. On most days, up to 15 percent of the system's 400 cars are out of service for maintenance and repair. New trains, including Amtrak's high-speed Acela, have growing pains. In 2010, SEPTA spent $330 million in capital funds to expand its fleet and meet growing demand for regional rail service. The cars, manufactured by a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Group and assembled in Philadelphia, have been plagued by mechanical issues, namely doors don't function properly in very cold weather, since operations began: