Re-envisioning the Kimmel Center

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts hired PennPraxis and the Penn Project on Civic Engagement in 2008 to lead a citizen-driven design process on ways to energize and activate public spaces in and around the Kimmel.

Though one of Philadelphia's grandest and most significant arts assets, the Kimmel has not become the democratic destination and generator of 18-hour public activity it pledged to be when it opened in late 2001. This planning process sought to create principles for public space development that will be the foundation of a design process that yields multiple concepts for re-energizing the Kimmel Center's exterior and interior public spaces.

The process kicked off with a series of public forums, in which over 200 citizens participated. This work was combined with feedback received online and through the Philadelphia Inquirer to create principles for design that were the foundation for work conducted by University of Pennsylvania (undergraduate architecture and fine arts) and University of the Arts (undergraduate and graduate industrial and exhibit design) students in their Spring 2008 semester.

The public forum discussions and other civic feedback were consolidated by the Penn Project for Civic Engagement into design principles. The principles serve as the basis of the work done by studio groups from the University of the Arts and University of Pennsylvania, who investigated design solutions in different and interesting ways. The culmination of the process and outcomes of the student work are captured in the summary document: Re-imagining the Kimmel Center.

Presentation and Student Design Ideas

The Penn undergraduate design studio working on the Kimmel public spaces divided into three groups by theme. Click below to view their display boards and digital presentations of their ideas presented to the public on April 14.

Introduction display boardpresentation

University of the Arts interior display boardexterior display board

Penn Group 1: "Humanize" display boardpresentation

Penn Group 2: "Connect to the Arts" display boardpresentation

Penn Group 3: "Sensory Experience" display boardpresentation

Ideas from the UArts students were integrated into the Penn student presentations.

Civic Feedback

Feedback from participants was collected in two different ways: through a Feedback Form distributed that evening, and through facilitated discussion groups. View all the feedback, from the Civic Feedback Session as well as the January forums, below.

Civic Feedback Session Summaries

Part I: Feedback Survey Form

Participants in the Civic Feedback Session were given a Feedback Form so they could comment directly on the student ideas presented. Click to see the tabulated feedback results from those who completed the survey. 

For those who did not attend, click HERE to complete it online.

Part II: Discussion Groups

The moderators from each public forum transcribed the ideas from each discussion group as part of the public record. Please click on the corresponding moderator to read the reports.

Public Forum Summaries

The moderators from each public forum transcribed the ideas from each discussion group as part of the public record. These reports will serve as the base for the principles, which will be developed in the coming days. Please click on the corresponding date or moderator to read the reports.

Click here to read reports from all five forums.

Click here to read email suggestions submitted in response to Chris Satullo's column about the Kimmel Center Public Space Project.

Citizens with additional comments or who were not able to attend the public forums can also submit input via email to any of the following project leaders.

Submit More Feedback for the Kimmel Center Public Space Project!

Chris Satullo, Philadelphia Inquirer:

Harris Sokoloff, Penn Project for Civic Engagement:


Citizens not on email can also mail the Philadelphia Inquirer at the following address:

Kimmel Project
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Box 41705
Philadelphia, PA 19101

For more information on the Kimmel Center Public Space Project, click here.