Posted August 10, 2017

Little City Builder Interactive debuts at Please Touch Museum!

West Fairmount Park is an area with incredible amenities born of a rich history. In 1876, the area of the park just north of Parkside Avenue was home to the Centennial Exposition, which celebrated the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia 100 years earlier. The Exposition was the first World’s Fair to be held in the United States and attracted nearly 10 million visitors.

Summer 2017 promises to be an exciting time of year in West Fairmount Park, with the ongoing construction of the Parkside Edge project as part of the Centennial Commons and crowds coming for events at the Mann Center, visiting Kelly Pool, and other weekend events. The Please Touch Museum is a popular destination for families year round. Adding to the summer programming is a one-of-a-kind pop-up exhibit conceived by five PennDesign and made possible through a Social Impact Grant through PennPraxis—the center for applied research, outreach, and practice at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.

The exhibit—called the Little City Builder Interactive—will be included in the museum's Build and Imagine weekend, starting on August 18, 2017.  The exhibit will invite both children and adults to construct a cityscape using over-sized foam blocks that will respond to users’ actions and promote the development of a “sustainable city.” The exhibit introduces basic principles of smart growth, such as compact development and access to open space, creating harmonious living with one another’s neighbors, and realizing agency in shaping the world. 

PennDesign team members include Darcy Anders (MCP 2017), Liz Colletti (MCP 2017), Lyndon DeSalvo (MCP 2017), Nate Hammitt (HSPV, MArch 2016), and Stephanie Margolis (MCP 2017).  The multi-disciplinary team worked hand-in-hand with the Please Touch Museum and Hive76 - a South Philadelphia maker space - to realize the project. The project utilizes the strength of all three collaborators, incorporating the PennDesign team’s interest in sustainable urban development, Hive76’s aptitude for creative problem-solving and engineering, and the Please Touch Museum’s expertise in “purposeful play” for children.

Additional educational materials and programming will supplement the interactive exhibit, with the goal of testing new mechanisms of programming and partnerships at the Museum, and expanding its engagement outside its walls.

Little City Builder will be on view for a limited time, but its lessons will touch youth and parents over the next several weeks, and beyond,