RFP issued to turn Pier 11 into a park

The search for a designer to turn the bedraggled Pier 11 into a public riverfront destination has begun.

Late Thursday afternoon, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation and the city posted an RFP seeking a consultant to come up with an urban design plan for the intersection of Columbus Boulevard and Race Streets, including Pier 11, Pier 9, and an old water department building.

“The goal is  to develop Pier 11 into a publicly accessible riverfront amenity for residents and tourists ,” the RFP says. But the document also stresses the importance of the project as a tone-setter for revitalizing the city’s waterfront, and doing so according to the principals outlined in the Action Plan for the Central Delaware – a document put together under the guidance of Penn Praxis after more than a year of public meetings designed to determine what Philadelphians want from their waterfront.

“This project will set a  precedent for waterfront access and public realm design quality.  With this initiative, the DRWC 
and the City of Philadelphia will develop a strong foundation on which they can begin to add other essential elements to the revitalization of the central Delaware,” The RFP states. “Pier 11 will be at the  leading edge of a series of open space improvements along the central Delaware and will  establish the standard for transformative public space design that can serve as a catalyst for private sector development.  

The design should “embody state‐of‐the‐art  thinking in ecology, landscape design, urban design, historical and cultural anthropology, and  sustainable infrastructure.”

Earlier this month, Mayor Michael Nutter and others announced that a  $1 grant from the William Penn Foundation would help pay for the design and construction of a public park at the Pier, located near the Ben Franklin Bridge. See previous coverage, including video of the announcement.

The total cost for the project is estimated at $4.25 million. According to the RFP, it will take about $3.25 of that to build a public space on top of the pier. “To date, the city has raised $2,350,000 and several additional funding sources  have been identified and/or confirmed for the additional funding needs,” the RFP states.

The winning proposal will reuse the existing pier structure, and exactly what is put in the new park must be based on what the existing structure can hold. “New park-related uses must be designed so as not to overwhelm the structural capacity of the pier.”  The RFP mandates public input into the design process.

The DRWC and city want work to begin this spring. The pier was originally built in 1916 and reconstructed in 1931. The pier had been used by steamer ships carrying fruit, salt and other cargo. It has been routinely inspected, and a recent marine engineering study recently done on the Pier identified 102 needed structural repairs. According to the RFP, these repairs are expected to be done by September.
-Posted by Kellie Patrick Gates

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal