City and Regional Planning

Pennsport Waterfront

Spring 2021 Public Realm Studio

Pennsport Waterfront
Spring 2021 Public Realm Studio

What is the 21st century urban third place? Typically, the third place (the place that follows home and work as a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in 1989 in his book The Great Good Place) fulfills our human needs for socialization, brings our communities together, and allows us to flourish as a society. These are spaces we choose to occupy and revisit again and again. In an urban context, third places and public realms are often interchangeable.

Outside of the urban core, big-box stores, retail chains, and auto-oriented districts that prioritize consumerism detach us from our context, culture, and community. A result of Euclidean zoning, the separation of uses creates spaces that lack vibrancy, exacerbate sprawl, limit housing supply, and intensify spatial inequity. For this studio, students are asked to address these issues and reimagine existing auto-oriented urban retail properties along the Delaware Riverfront.

As part of the Master Plan for the Central Delaware, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) has identified three priority sites for development of the Master Plan, the southernmost of which includes the selected site for this studio. The area of focus runs along the Delaware riverfront from Dickinson Street to the north, Snyder Avenue to the south, and Front Street to the west. The site interfaces with adjacent new residential development to the north along the river, the port facilities to the south, and the existing Pennsport neighborhood to the west. Central to the investigation would be a redesign of the Columbus Boulevard, integration of a SEPTA Transit Hub, and how planned multi-site redevelopment of both public and private land can create a vibrant third place for the riverfront district. 

The studio envisions a high performing and resilient public realm that is culturally representative of Philadelphia. Prior to the public realm proposals, students are asked to produce three distinct approaches to approach Christopher Columbus Boulevard, each illustrated by a Framework Plan. This requires them to explore a rethinking of current systems which may include, but are not limited to, transportation systems, open space and natural systems, and community systems. This studio is intended for interdisciplinary study, providing opportunities to explore urban ecologies, stormwater infrastructure, wetland restoration, land economics, future mixed-use development and incorporation of industrial legacies, new forms of mixed-use architectural typologies, and renewable energy and other sustainable technologies. 

Team

Nando Micale, Lecturer
Danielle Lake, Lecturer