• Small group discussion at the June 21st Innovation Fund workshop. Photo credit Darcy Anders.

Reimagining the Civic Commons

PennPraxis worked with the Fairmount Park Conservancy (FPC) on two long-term projects in conjunction with their Reimagining the Civic Commons (RCC) initiative, funded by the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation

Through the initiative, FPC and Knight are uniting partners from five key civic assets in Philadelphia—Bartram’s Mile, Discovery Center, The Viaduct Rail Park, Lovett Library and Park, and Centennial Commons—that are currently undergoing phased redesigns. The initiative has brought the partners together to create a process by which each of these distinct sites can be made stronger when envisioned as a system, with programming and experienced shared across sites, and engage with adjacent neighborhoods. These investments will take place over the course of three years, and many of the improvements have already begun. 

PennPraxis is assisting in the design and implementation of data collection and baseline monitoring to document the impacts of the Civic Commons Initiative and its initial phases of implementation. In order to gauge the success of the investments, and test the hypothesis that the investments will amount to tangible benefits to the city and neighborhoods, outcomes need to be measured against existing conditions and use patterns. PennPraxis has deployed a team to collect this information using site observation, intercept surveys, and user counts. 

In addition, PennPraxis is working with the five partners, as well as FPC and Knight, to develop projects under the Initiative’s Innovation Fund. This Fund will be used to develop early-action implementation projects that will highlight the work being completed at the sites, and begin to accomplish the goals of the initiative  ahead of construction completion. Such projects may include pop-up events, programs and installations that will both activate individual sites, and share programing across the city to foster improved use and appreciation of Philadelphia’s citywide park assets. PennPraxis convened an introductory workshop to bring partners together around the common goal, and will work with individual sites to develop and implement projects over several months.