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Philly's Dilworth Plaza Renovation




Dilworth Plaza in Philadelphia is set to become a more open and greener space. The $50 million overhaul includes a public art installation on the plaza's north side. Artist Janet Echelman's proposed creation is a sheet of lighted dry mist that rises from the ground in time with the movement of the subway lines beneath it.

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A major project in Philadelphia is slated to get underway this year. Dilworth Plaza, which lies on the west side of Philadelphia City Hall in the Center City District, will be transformed into a new open plaza with a focus on creating an active, vibrant civic and green space.

The project is one component of a larger initiative by the city to improve the infrastructure and landscape in the Center City District, enhancing the historic and aesthetic appeal of City Hall.

According to city officials, the current surrounding space was not designed for community interaction. Much of the visual charm of the area is obscured by stairs, walls, barriers and other poorly-placed features installed as part of the 1960s-era granite-paved design of the plaza. The renovation seeks to create a more welcoming, hospitable link to the nearby retail stores that dominate East Market Street, plus provide a meeting and respite space for the 25,000 office workers in the area, other city residents and tourists.

To that end, there will be less concrete hardscaping and more trees and plants. The 76 new trees planned for the space will increase the canopy by 26 percent, which in turn will reduce the ambient temperature on those warm, muggy summer days by about two degrees. Sloping glass entrances will present gateways to the transit lines (subway, light rail and trolley lines) within and adjacent to the plaza. A programmable fountain and outdoor cafe will enliven the space.

The design has an eye on sustainability, with an objective to reduce the existing impermeable paving by 38 percent. Stormwater runoff and irrigation needs will be reduced by diverting runoff to a 36,000-gallon cistern.

The new, open area should accommodate crowds up to 8,000 people for outdoor concerts and other events.

The design and engineering team includes Kieran Timberlake Architects, OLIN landscape architects, Urban Engineers and structural engineers from CVM. Plans are scheduled for submittal in March, with approvals shortly following and bid documents available in April. Construction is to begin sometime in the summer, with completion expected by fall of 2013. The project is budgeted at $55 million and will create 1,060 jobs and nearly $40 million in wages over the 30-month construction period.


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November 22, 2019, 12:10 pm PDT

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