Art Commission evaluates projects from Septa to SugarHouse

The Philadelphia Art Commission faced a short agenda Wednesday, but it was stacked with details related to public transportation, library enhancements, a most stylish coffee emporium and lights and action heading for Philadelphia’s waterfront casino. PlanPhilly recorded the session and the full videos of each presentation are posted below.

The commission granted final approval to Septa’s plans for new elevators and headhouse structures at its 40th & Market Streets station. The green light was contingent on the authority removing remaining glass block from the design, further reducing the height of the elevator, given that adjustment would not affect mechanical systems, the addition of armrests on benches within the structure and the removal of a windscreen that would exist at street level.

The second agenda item, improvements to Lovett Library Park, at 6945 Germantown Avenue, was more complicated. Mt. Airy USA showed phased plans to invigorate the land around Lovett Memorial Library with a park that will include a courtyard for library patrons, an outdoor quiet area for reading and reflection, a storytelling ring, a plaza along Germantown Avenue that will include café tables and chairs, a natural area for creative play and an amphitheater that will feature outdoor performances.

The twist is Lovett Library is one of four branch libraries in the Free Library system that has been designated for renovation and expansion through a William Penn Foundation grant. So landscape architect Julie Bush of LRSLA Studio asked the Art Commission approval to tackle phase 1 this coming spring, basically only laying some bluestone on now barren earth that would serve as the plaza on Germantown Ave. They would hold off on later phases until the Free Library figures exactly what the renovations and expansion of the Lovett Library entails.

The commissioners voted unanimously for conceptual approval of the site plan contigents on the applicants returning in January with more detailed drawings of what would be involved in phase 1, as well as a commitment for the inclusion of origial art that would be displayed in the park.

Click here to view the conceptual designs prepared for Lovett Park by the Community Design Collaborative.


The commissioners were impressed with the minimalist modifications that Keystone Property Group presented for La Colombe Coffee at the Dow Building, 100 South Independence Mall West. Aside from some concerns about tree health (the prototypes show them in planters) and some of the paving and brick material not matching, the commission granted final approval, citing the way the redo on the ground floor, adjacent to a popular beer garden, reactivated the south side of the plaza. The commissioners were also pleased that the magnificent interior of the first floor space which will house the coffee shop will be in the public eye for the first time.



The last presentation made to the commission involved a two-pronged public art project being undertaken by SugarHouse Casino, 1001 N. Delaware Avenue. One concept would enable the casino to feature videos from Sam Katz’s History Making Productions on LED screens positioned in key spots in the facility. The commissioners felt that because Katz’s work is seen in other venues, such as Dilworth Park, the zoning board would need to weigh in before the Art Commission considered the merits of the proposal.


The second SugarHouse pitch involved a dynamic public art lighting treatment on the under-construction public garage. The commissioners felt that full conceptual approval would be premature based on the fact that they wanted to see more detailed plans for the materials and the way the design paid homage to the Delaware River.


The commission asked the applicants, SugarHouse public art consultant Susan Davis and artist Leni Schwendinger, to return with more specific materials related to the “Gossamer Tides” design and applcation to the garage. Here is a project Schwendinger produced converging tides and traffic in Glasgow, Scotland. The commissions did grant conceptual approval to the project location, the artist SugarHouse selected and the notion that the subject is a light-based project on the side of a building.


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