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Sister Cities Park Honored With Inaugural Rouse Award

PHILADELPHIA (June 18, 2014) – Sister Cities Park was awarded a ULI Philadelphia Willard G. "Bill" Rouse III Inaugural Award for Excellence on June 18 at an awards ceremony at the Benjamin Franklin. Sister Cities Park was one of 57 submissions from around the region, was one of 28 finalists and one of nine equal winners. The design team for the park included DIGSAU architects, Studio|Bryan Hanes, landscape architect, and Pennoni Engineers, Inc.

The panel of jurors cited Sister Cities Park as “a cozy family room for Philadelphia’s downtown core, welcoming to children and adults alike, as well as its ability to be replicated in other cities.”

The Center City District’s $5.2 million renovation, completed in May 2012, transformed the 1.3-acre park at 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway into a richly planted, well-illuminated and welcoming public space offering a variety of amenities for people of all ages to enjoy 365 days a year. The park has a Children’s Discovery Garden with winding pathways, meandering stream and boat pond, the Logan Square Cafe, a satellite of the Independence Visitor Center, and a plaza that features a one-of-a-kind fountain embedded in bluestone and commemorating Philadelphia’s Sister Cities program that connects Philadelphia with 10 cities throughout the world.

The overall design of the park reflects an organic blend of urban environment and natural elements that are found in the native woodlands of southeastern Pennsylvania.

The 2,500-square-foot intensive green roof on the building that houses the café and visitor center is planted with native grasses, shrubs and perennials, while the building's outer walls of Emerson limestone pay tribute to Wissahickon schist. Throughout the park, green principles are paramount, from the building's green roof, which helps reduce air temperature, smog, stormwater runoff and dust, to the geothermal heating and cooling that helps moderate extreme temperatures, to the careful attention paid to recycling trash.

The award honors the legacy of Willard G. "Bill" Rouse III, civic leader, developer, and a founder of ULI Philadelphia, with a long-term commitment from Liberty Property Trust. A wide range of projects competed for the award, including residential, commercial, industrial, mixed use, parks and open spaces and other developments from both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. The judges looked at how the project achieved excellence in the use of best practices; demonstrated quality planning and design; incorporated elements that build healthy places; promoted environmental sustainability and energy reduction; achieved economic success and market acceptance; and met community needs.

“We are honored to receive this award,” said Paul R. Levy, President and CEO of the Center City District. “Sister Cities Park is a special addition to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and a great reason for families with children to visit and live in Center City Philadelphia,” Levy said. “The Center City District is grateful for the generous support we received from many stakeholders to transform this park into an inviting and attractive outdoor space with an array of programs that will entertain and educate.”

Sister Cities Park (www.SisterCitiesPark.org) is managed and maintained by the Center City District through a lease from the Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation. The renovation was made possible by generous funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the William Penn Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the State Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.


The Center City District, a private-sector organization dedicated to making Center City Philadelphia clean, safe and attractive, is committed to maintaining Center City’s competitive edge as a regional employment center, a quality place to live, and a premier regional destination for dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Find us at www.centercityphila.org and on Facebook and Twitter.

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