Posted October 9, 2019
  • Photo courtesy DWRCC

Envisioning a New Park at Penn’s Landing

On October 17, the public is invited to join the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and the City of Philadelphia (the City) at a public meeting and open house about the new Penn’s Landing. An opportunity for Philadelphians to hear the latest on the design, contribute ideas on how to use the new public spaces, and learn how to be a part of the Waterfront’s transformation, the event kicks off a multi-year community engagement effort led by faculty members and practitioners at PennPraxis, the consulting arm of the Weitzman School.

The new park at Penn’s Landing will be built between Chestnut and Walnut Streets, Front Street, and the Delaware River in conjunction with the construction of a new cap over Interstate 95 and Columbus Boulevard. Consisting of the reconstruction and expansion of a new bridge over Interstate Highway 95 that will support a new 12-acre riverfront civic space, the extension of South Street Pedestrian Bridge, and the construction of a portion of the Delaware River Trail, the multi-million-dollar project is anticipated to begin construction in late 2021 and be complete by 2024.

PennPraxis is among the consultants to have worked with DRWC over the past decade to create a comprehensive vision for the enhancement of the Delaware Waterfront, beginning with A Civic Vision for the Central Delaware, completed in 2007. DRWC is currently returning to the community to discuss the specific ways in which the park could and should be used, after spending the last several years determining the economic feasibility of the park, and fundraising to make the project a reality.

PennPraxis is leading a team of community-based organizations to develop a plan for engaging with a wide range of Philadelphians to inform the programming and stewardship for the new park that goes beyond conventional approaches to community engagement. The team includes Little Giant Creative, Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition (SEAMAAC), Make the World Better Foundation, and the Village of Arts & Humanities.

“The challenge is to make the new Park at Penn’s Landing a citywide public asset, which will be used, activated, and appreciated by Philadelphians of all backgrounds, from across the city. In order to create a space like this, we knew that we had to work with partners who are embedded in their communities, and help us reach new audiences on their turf, using nontraditional approaches to community involvement,” says PennPraxis Managing Director Julie Donofrio. “Those who attend the public meeting on October 17th will be able to be a part of a process that is yielding new and deeper understanding of how Philadelphians currently use and will be drawn to the waterfront in the future.”

DRWC is a 501(c)(3) created in January 2009 to design, develop, program, and maintain public amenities such as permanent and seasonal parks, trails, and streetscape improvements to transform the waterfront into a vibrant destination for recreational, cultural, and commercial activities for the residents and visitors of Philadelphia in keeping with the goals of the Master Plan for Central Delaware.

The mission of PennPraxis is to support design action and thought leadership to advance inclusion, innovation, and impact in communities that design does not typically serve. Since its founding in 2001, PennPraxis has been working in Philadelphia to further conversations on the value of design, and increasingly how to support equity and inclusion through design, public participation, and community ownership.