The Unlikely Urbanism Of John Fry

 

"Fry announced plans to convert an area between Drexel's campus and 30th Street Station into a dense neighborhood of businesses, retailers, parks, and residential towers, to be called Schuylkill Yards."

“Fry announced plans to convert an area between Drexel’s campus and 30th Street Station into a dense neighborhood of businesses, retailers, parks, and residential towers, to be called Schuylkill Yards.” | Rendering: SHoP Architects and West 8

  • Before Drexel University president John Fry was pitching the construction of a $3.5 billion neighborhood in University City around and over the railyards there, he was, from 2002-2010, the president of Franklin & Marshall College, leading a $75 million effort to transform the Lancaster school’s Northwest Gateway. To free dozens of acres for redevelopment, Fry and his team saw to the demolition of a factory and the relocation of a railyard, post office, and a landfill of 104,000 tons of trash. The Inquirer’s Susan Snyder sketches Fry’s brand of audacious and untrained urbanism. “We didn’t even dream about the Gateway Project,” said Susan Washburn, who served on the selection committee that hired Fry. “We didn’t even know to dream about it.”
  • Now that Kenyatta Johnson has lost his federal trial against Ori Feibush, Tricia Nadolny surveys City Council members as to any expected changes to the tradition of councilmanic prerogative. For Bill Greenlee, the fact that Council is explicitly a part of the process speaks for itself. Maria Quiñones-Sànchez defends the practice as a check, by officials representative of their communities and adept in understanding their needs, against the deleterious effects sometimes wrought by development. Yet Councilman-turned-Mayor Jim Kenney speaks to its staying power best: “It’s not like we’re going to change Rules 6-3 of the city code. Because it doesn’t exist. It’s in here,” he said, as he pointed to his head.
  • NewsWorks relates City Council President Darrell Clarke’s $100 million proposal—to be paid by a bond sale and a 0.1% increase in the  city’s real estate transfer tax—that would bolster programs that provide home repair loans for low-income residents. “That’s what we want to do — not rehab four or five houses at a time because we’ll never get us to where we need to get,” he said. “There’s a sense of urgency out in a lot of neighborhoods in the city of Philadelphia.”
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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