Earlier this year, AN kicked off its video series with a tour of Philly's Reading Viaduct, an abandoned elevated rail line that advocates hope to transform into a linear park. The project has been talked about for years, but the pace has really picked up over the last few months. When we visited the site, president of the nonprofit Friends of the Rail Park, Leah Murphy, and the park's designer, Bryan Hanes, said they hoped to break ground on the first phase of the project—the spur—this year. Now, it looks like that is going to happen—possibly as soon as this summer. In March, the Knight and William Penn foundations announced they would provide $11 million for five shovel-ready park projects around the city, including $1 million for the Reading Viaduct. Since then, the chances of the project getting underway have solidified even further. PlanPhilly recently reported that Councilman Mark Squilla introduced legislation that would allow the city to purchase the 0.8-acre spur from Philly's transit agency, SEPTA, which currently owns the site. If SEPTA votes to hand over the property, the project will pass a major logistical hurdle. As for funding, Friends of the Rail Park told PlanPhilly that the group has already raised about 65 percent of the $9 million required for the spur. It is also pursuing a $3.5 million grant from Pennsylvania's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program. For more on the history of the Reading Viaduct, and its possible future as an elevated park, check out our video below. https://vimeo.com/120168095
Posts tagged with "Philadelphia":
Philadelphia has become the latest American city to offer a bikeshare system with the introduction of Indego. On Thursday, Mayor Nutter celebrated the long-awaited launch by pedaling around town on one of the system's first 600 bikes. The program will expand significantly over the next two years. https://vimeo.com/125880262 The city is taking advantage of its conspicuously late entrance into bikeshare by offering the most up-to-date equipment and pricing schemes that should make the system more accessible to more people. StreetsBlog was there for the launch and filed a video from Philly's streets about what the light-blue bikes mean for the city. Take a look above.
The infamous "Rocky" steps leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art will soon be revamped with a new 72-foot escalator beginning in spring 2016. The climb to the museum, which was most notably featured in the iconic movie scene with Sly Stallone, is being transformed to enhance accessibility in time for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next July. And more importantly, this overhaul will be completed in preparation for the next Rocky sequel, ensuring that the action hero, at the ripe age of 68, with his creaky knees, can gracefully scale the stairs once again. In a statement about the visionary project, VISIT PHILADELPHIA's president & CEO, Meryl Levitz, said, “It’s entirely fake. April Fools’!" While the steps will remain intact, change is underway with Frank Gehry's plan to expand the museum's gallery space under the West Terrace, which does sits atop the famous staircase.
PlanPhilly, the non-profit site that covers all things planning and urbanism in Philadelphia, is leaving PennPraxis at the University of Pennsylvania for WHYY, a public media outlet that brings the world Terry Gross. The site was launched in 2006 and has been reporting on the city's dramatic evolution ever since. "Following the move, PlanPhilly will help WHYY and its NewsWorks.org website deepen its coverage of civic issues and promote public dialogue about the future of the Philadelphia region," WHYY said in a statement. "Becoming part of WHYY’s public media operation will enable PlanPhilly to broaden its reach beyond its web audience through radio and television reporting."
https://vimeo.com/120168095 The Architect's Newspaper is introducing a new video series focusing on the places, people, and processes behind news-making projects. We begin with a tour of Philadelphia's Reading Viaduct, an abandoned rail line that advocates hope to transform into an elevated park, a grittier take on Manhattan's celebrated High Line. With the city and state pledging millions toward the project, the Viaduct park is moving closer to reality. Come along with us for a first look.
Hillary Clinton will not be named the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, as Mayor Bill de Blasio had hoped. No, that will likely happen at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, as the Democratic National Committee has announced that the City of Brotherly Love will host its 2016 national convention. The expected anointing of Hillary will happen during the week of July 25, just days after the Republicans meet in Cleveland, Ohio to nominate—who knows—Jeb Bush? Clinton versus Bush. What a world.
Iowa City this week picked engineer-turned-artist Cecil Balmond to anchor an overhaul of the city's downtown pedestrian plaza. His sculpture will be the focal point of Iowa City's Black Hawk Mini Park Art Project, the first phase of an $11 million streetscape redevelopment project that officials hope to start next year. Balmond's work aims to enliven public spaces with forceful, architectural installations. His studio has strung shafts of light in Anchorage, Alaska, explored the Solid Void of sculpture with a forest of metal filigree in Chicago's Graham Foundation, and woven steel like rope to bridge a Philadelphia railway. The Chicago Transit Authority recently tapped Cecil Balmond Studio to contribute art for an overhaul of the 91-year-old Wilson Red Line station. An artist review panel consisting of Genus Landscape Architects Brett Douglas and Angie Coyer, and Iowa City staff Geoff Fruin and Marcia Bollinger selected U.K.–born Balmond over artists Vito Acconci and Hans Breder. Construction on the project is expected to begin next year.
The Architectural League's Emerging Voices lecture series, now in its 30th year, has reliably identified important new talent through a juried selection process. This year's group reflects a number of important currents in contemporary practice in North America. In recent years, a number of young Mexican firms have been showcased, and this year's group includes three practices, Ambrosi Etchegaray, Atelier ARS, and CC Arquitectos, which represent that country's proud tradition of stark and rooted modernism. Boston, long seen as conservative place to work, is represented by two young firms, Merge Architects, and Neri Oxman. A can-do pragmatism and urbanistic grit informs Philadelphia's ISA, and the pioneering digital designers Aranda/Lasch, based in New York and Tucson, are rapidly moving from installations and furniture to significant freestanding buildings. The emergence of landscape architecture and landscape urbanism is reflected in the design and research of Miami's Studio Roberto Rovira. For a full schedule of the Emerging Voices lecture series, visit the League's website. Full profiles of each firm will be available in the March East Coast edition of AN.
Vitra—Design, Architecture, Communication: A European Project with American Roots Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Building, Collab Gallery 2525 Pennsylvania Avenue, Philadelphia, PA Through April 26, 2015 In its new exhibition, Vitra—Design, Architecture, Communication: A European Project with American Roots, the Philadelphia Museum of Art explores the history of the famous Swiss furniture company from its early licensing partnership with Herman Miller to new collaborations with world-renowned contemporary designers, such as Verner Panton, Antonio Citterio, and Jasper Morrison. Vitra’s evolution will be tracked through a collection of about 120 design objects, furniture, models, publications, and videos. This will be supplemented by archival material and historic objects from the Vitra Design Museum in Germany. These materials include a plywood toy elephant by Charles and Ray Eames, a series of Alexander Girard’s Wooden Dolls, and George Nelson’s 1948 furniture catalogue for Herman Miller.
Just a few months after Philadelphia’s hugely popular, but temporary, Spruce Street Harbor Park closed up shop, the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest has opened in its place. The new space, which is open until March 1st, was commissioned by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation and designed by the New Jersey–based Groundswell Design Group, the same team behind the Winterfest's summertime predecessor. The Winterfest is so overflowing with wintertime amenities that it appears less like a pop-up park and more like an idyllic backdrop for some Christmas-time romantic comedy. There is a regulation-size ice skating rink, a bar with craft beers and spiked drinks, fire pits, a restaurant, a holiday market, and heated tents known as “The Lodge.” Shipping containers from the Harbor Park have been repurposed into Winterfest stores, and lights strung up over the summer were programmed into a brand new light show that plays every half hour. Set within the Winterfest is also a winter garden that Groundswell’s David Fierabend created “with hundreds of holiday trees and shrubs, woodchips, rustic furniture, market lights and fire pits,” according to the DRWC.
When we talk about cities boosting bike infrastructure, we’re typically talking about adding bike lanes and launching, or expanding, bike share. Building a multi-million dollar velodrome for high-speed, Olympic-style, indoor track racing isn’t typically part of that equation. But it now is in Philadelphia. Shortly after Mayor Nutter created the Philadelphia Bicycle Advocacy Board to help make the city a world-class cycling destination, he has thrown his support behind a private plan to build a $100 million velodrome inside FDR Park. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that if the city hands over four acres of public parkland for the project, the arena’s organizers would provide between $5 million and $15 million in improvements for the rest of the 384-acre park. They would also create a four-acre replacement park. While the plan, titled Project 250, may sound like a subterranean, missile silo hidden somewhere in Nevada, it would actually bring a prominent architectural statement to Philadelphia. The Sheward Partnership has drawn up plans for the velodrome which would be a swooping, parabolic structure with a 55-foot-high roof. The building, with its lifted entrances, can perhaps best be described as Pringle-like or at least, Pringle-ish. Since velodrome cycling isn’t necessarily all that popular in the U.S., the 6,000-seat arena would be also programmed with concerts, and tennis and volleyball matches. Organizers told the Inquirer that it would be open to the public 80 percent of the time, and that amateur cyclists could buy hourly memberships. There would also be a classroom to teach free track-racing to low-income teens. Before any bikes can hit the track, however, Project 250 needs to be approved by the Parks & Recreation Commission, the Historical & Art Commission, and the City Council.
With bikeshare launching in Philadelphia next year, Mayor Nutter is taking significant steps toward boosting cycling throughout the city. NewsWorks reported that the mayor recently signed an executive order to create the Philadelphia Bicycle Advocacy Board, which will advise him on implementing smart bike policy. This would include "[fostering] volunteer efforts that promote cycling and maintain cycling trails; encourage private sector support of cycling, especially among Philadelphia employers; and promote national and international races in Philadelphia to attract the most elite cyclists to compete in the city." Despite joining the bikeshare game pretty late, Philly routinely ranks as one of the country's most bike-friendly cities. AN recently reported that out of 70 large cities in America, Philadelphia has the 10th highest percentage of residents that commute by bike. Right behind Philadelphia is another Pennsylvania city, Pittsburgh, which is experiencing nothing short of a surge in bike commuting. Using Census Bureau data, the League of American Bicyclists found that bike commuting in the Steel City grew over 400 percent between 2000 and 2013. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto wants to build on this, and has made increasing bicycle infrastructure one of his major priorities. "We got into the game late," he recently told Streetsblog, "we did our first three [protected bike lanes] in six months, though. And we're looking to do the first five miles in two years." These new lanes, he added, will become part of a "highway system for bikes." With this new infrastructure, and the city's impending launch of a bikeshare program, Peduto said Pittsburgh will "leapfrog" other cities when it comes to bicycling and livability. "We're not going to be able to settle at just being able to play catchup, we want to catch up and then go ahead," he said. Game on.