Playing With Place Making

 

A finalist for the Learning Landscapes category, detailing possible changes to the Blanche A. Nixon/Cobbs Creek Branch of the Free Library | Design: Play Structure | Story Structure

A finalist for the Learning Landscapes category, detailing possible changes to the Blanche A. Nixon/Cobbs Creek Branch of the Free Library | Design: Play Structure | Story Structure

  • Play Space, this year’s Infill Philadelphia design competition from the Community Design Collaborative, has asked participants to consider practical interventions to three underserved public spaces—the Blanche A. Nixon/Cobbs Creek Branch of the Free Library, Waterloo Recreation Center in Norris Square, and Mill Creek’s Haverford Bright Futures early education center—that would provide added opportunity for neighborhood children to play, thereby reinforcing community relationships through a sense of ownership in shared space. One winner for each site will be chosen, says Eyes on the Street, at an award ceremony next week.
  • Inga Saffron shows how Bowman Properties was able to successfully “insert a complex, mixed-use development into [one of] Philadelphia’s sensitive, low-rise neighborhoods,” this at 8200 Germantown Avenue with the 5-story One West, now nearing completion five years after being first proposed. Thanks to some skilled design work from of Runyan & Associates and SPG3 Architects, the $35 million development has ensured actual density without the overbearing and incongruous sense of it from the ground. Its anchor, a Fresh Market grocery, was positioned on Hartwell Lane, allowing the the Avenue to retain its usual commercial rhythms. The façades are of quality material (shaved Wissahickon schist); the twenty condominiums that top the development are wisely set back.
  • The 1400 block of Moravian Street “Isn’t Just Any Alley,” writes Bill West. Currently the home to a row of dumpsters, this block is pressed between some of the city’s finest architecture, with the stylistic dichotomy the Union League to its north, the Florentine-inspired Drexel Building and the old Stock Exchange building, with its “lovely arched openings at ground level blocked in ways that only the Department of Licenses and Inspections could love,” on the south side.  Even with its fire escapes, this too-often ignored stretch is pregnant with possibilities, he argues.
  • Writing for the Urban Land Institute’s Urban Land magazine, Ryan Briggs considers some of the innovative ways Philadelphia has complied with the federal government’s consent decree requiring it to combat the pollution caused by the 11 billion of effluent that annually spews from its nineteenth century sewers and into the Delaware River. Speaking of Philly’s penchant towards porous blacktop and green roofing, Sarene Marshall, executive director of ULI’s Center for Sustainability, says “Their solution is, ‘Let’s not build a bigger pipe.’ It’s about keeping water out of the pipe.”
About the author

Stephen Currall recently received his BA in history from Arcadia University. Before beginning doctoral studies, he is pursuing his interest in local history, specifically just how Philadelphians engage their vibrant past. Besides skimming through 18th century letters, Steve is also interested in music and travel.

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