My very first post is all about a place that is very familiar to people who pass by City Hall all the time: Dilworth Plaza, the large, mysterious plaza on the western side of City Hall. After much discussion and planning, the Center City District (the ubiquitous Center City special services district) and the city are ready to move forward later this year with a complete overhaul of the site. With funds secured from the city, state, and federal governments of approximately $50 million, the new Dilworth Plaza (designed primarily by Urban Engineers, Kieran Timberlake, and OLIN) will have a lawn for public events on the south end; new glass headhouses at the entrance to the SEPTA station below; new, less obtrusive trees; a system to capture storm water runoff; a cafe facing LOVE Park and the Parkway at the north end; and a water feature that will be an alternating ice skating rink, fountain, and space for events, also on the north end.
The new Dilworth is meant to be much more of a useable, and used, public space that can accommodate events throughout the year and have activities that city dwellers, workers, and tourists alike would enjoy and utilize. It, also, is intended to direct commuters to the subway stations. The plan came about after several designs and redesigns, spurred on by much debate and at least a few public meetings. The Center City District, which led the effort for the overhaul, will lease the plaza from the city.
Construction is scheduled to begin this summer, and won’t be done until 2013, likely because the construction schedule and design have to coincide with the massive redevelopment that SEPTA is planning for the City Hall subway stations. Planning and design for the new station (the current stations will likely be combined into one large transportation center) are still ongoing and, unfortunately, SEPTA isn’t sure when it could fund construction, but they do want it to coincide with the construction of the new plaza. A long time to wait for the new Dilworth, but it sure sounds like an improvement that will be worth the wait!
For more info, go to the Center City District’s website at http://www.centercityphila.org/