The Center City District has been working for over a decade to improve the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with pedestrian and architectural lighting, new directional and interpretive signage, the renovation of Aviator Park in front of the Franklin Institute and the redesign of Cret Park (formerly Three Parkway Plaza) with the addition of Café Cret at 16th and the Parkway. The ultimate goal of this work, which has been done in partnership with the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, City of Philadelphia, Parkway cultural and educational institutions, neighborhood groups and other stakeholders, is to transform the Parkway into an animated, pedestrian-friendly cultural campus.
Directional and interpretive signs installed by CCD in 2007 guide pedestrians along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and provide information about the institutions, public sculpture and the planning and development of the historic boulevard.
Cloud Gehshan Associates designed the signs for CCD, along with dommertphillips, who together worked with Parkway stakeholders and the Fairmount Park Art Association to determine themes for interpretation, iconography and content. The project was funded with support from the William Penn Foundation.
A video highlighting the Parkway signage system:
Completed in 2008, this re-landscaped plaza is home to Capriccio Café. The cafe contains an information kiosk to assist visitors in locating area sites, events and attractions. The café, designed by Cope Linder Architects, serves coffee and light fare in both indoor and outdoor settings seven days a week. Revenues generated by the café serve as a source of funding for ongoing maintenance of Cret Park and other park land and streetscape improvements made by the Center City District along the Parkway.
Other improvements to the plaza include new sidewalks, lawn, trees, shrubs and flowers and new benches and lighting. Design and construction of the plaza improvements was funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the City of Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation Department and AGL Investments. For more information on the park, visit cretpark.org.
Aviator Park, located on the Parkway adjacent to The Franklin and Moore College of Art + Design, is now an open, green, family-friendly oasis after extensive reconstruction by the CCD in 2007. The park has new paved walkways, plantings, benches, trash receptacles and light fixtures.
Aviator Park's redesign and reconstruction was funded with federal transportation enhancement dollars through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (PennDOT) with the Fairmount Park Commission serving as CCD's project partner. The design team consisted of Lager Raabe Skafte Landscape Architects, Urban Engineers, Inc., and Pennoni Associates as construction inspectors.
Sister Cities Park
In 2012, the Center City District cut the ribbon on a renovated Sister Cities Park, located at Logan Square immediately in front of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. The public park includes a pavilion housing a café and visitor center, an outdoor children’s discovery garden and play area, a boat pond and an interactive fountain that pays tribute to Philadelphia’s ten global sister cities. The pavilion incorporates contemporary green building systems including geothermal technologies and a green roof. New trees, water features, walkways and lighting improved the park’s landscape, providing attractive amenities for all users. The renovation of Sister Cities Park was done in partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, with funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the State Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The award-winning design team includes DIGSAU architects, Pennoni Engineers, Inc. and Studio Bryan Hanes, landscape architect. For more information on the park visit, sistercitiespark.org.
Lighting Buildings and Art
The art and architecture along the Parkway are beautifully aglow at night, thanks to CCD lighting initiatives.
The CCD dramatically illuminated 20 works of art and the facades of eight landmark buildings along the Parkway in a two-phase project during 2003 and 2004. The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and individual donors funded the project.
The buildings lit by CCD are: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Free Library of Philadelphia, Family Court, Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul, The Franklin Institute, Academy of Natural Sciences, Moore College of Art + Design and Friends Select School.
CCD lit these outdoor works of art: Washington Monument (Rudolph Siemering, 1897), The Thinker (Auguste Rodin, 1929), Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Memorial (Hermon Atkins MacNeil, 1927), Shakespeare Memorial (Alexander Stirling Calder, 1928), Galusha Pennypacker Monument (Albert Laessle, 1934), Aero Memorial (Paul Manship, 1950), All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors (J. Otto Schweizer, 1934), Kopernik (Dudley Talcott, 1973), Jesus Breaking Bread (Walter Erlebacher, 1978), Thaddeus Kosciuszko (Marian Konieczny, 1979), Three-Way Piece Number 1: Points (Henry Moore, 1967), Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs (Nathan Rapoport, 1964), Deinonychus (Kent Ullberg, 1987), Joseph Leidy (Samuel Murray, 1929), Swann Memorial Fountain (Alexander Stirling Calder, 1924), The Lion Fighter (Albert Wolff, 1892), The Mounted Amazon Attacked by a Panther (Auguste Kiss, 1929), Francisco Di Miranda (Lorenzo Gonzalez, 1977) and The Price (Horace Trumbauer, 1934) and Ericsson Fountains (John F. Harbeson, 1969).
The CCD installed 222 ornamental, pedestrian-scale lights along the Parkway's sidewalks and another 132 vehicular lights along the Parkway from 16th Street up to and including Eakin's Oval. Installation began in August 2003 and was completed in June 2004, and was funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Logan Square Pedestrian Crossings
CCD enhanced pedestrian access to the historic Swann Fountain at Logan Square and to adjacent cultural institutions with the 2004 installation of six, new signalized crosswalks. The William Penn Foundation-funded project also adjusted the geometry of the square to make it safer and easier for vehicles to navigate.
The Parkway Council is a coalition of cultural and educational institutions and businesses in the Benjamin Franklin Parkway area of Philadelphia, known as the Parkway Museums District. Read about the area's rich history, get information about its institutions and find complete Parkway event listings at the official website. ParkwayMuseumsDistrict.org»