Art Commission gets Market St. Memorial walk-through; approves City Hall and Septa plans

The Philadelphia Art Commission received an emotional, in-depth presentation Wednesday from the 22nd & Market Memorial Committee concerning progress the group is making in commemorating the site where six people died in a building collapse in Center City Philadelphia on June 5, 2013.

John White, Chairman of the PFM Group, opened by saying support for the pocket park has come from every aspect of the development community, the building trades and city-wide institutions. He said the park has a small footprint and a very big mission. It is inspirational space, a fitting way to acknowlege the lives lost from a preventable tragedy, a gesture to remind the citizens of Philadelphia of the need for effective governmental oversight to protect public safety.

Project Manager/Architect Scott Aker walked the commission members through the principles that support the design characteristics of the memorial park. He said the design logic of the space is rooted in civic commemoration. The park’s design moves work with the fabric of the city and the memory of the space, and the place. The space is one of public healing through the multiple experiences brought during the day and night and each season. Aker reiterated that this effort represents good park space united with community effort and the design has been created through the eyes and voices of the memorial families.

Local artist Barbara Fox described her work on the triptych, the three granite sculptures. “Art gives voice to loss, endurance and hope. At the heart of my sculpture, called Witness, is the remembrance of six people who lost their lives … and the many others impacted by this tragedy,” Fox said. “The sculpture had to have both universal and personaI appeal. I chose granite for its enduring strength and beauty, glass for an element of transparency. I thought about three solid granite stones with two windows opening in each. The windows are placed at the eyelevel of a child and the eyelevel of an adult. A seventh window with no glass provides a universal element to the piece.The inscription above this window reads, “for those who remember because we all have experienced loss.'”

Following the presentation, commissioner José Almiñana voiced concerns about some of the technical aspects of the project. He worried that the small raised planting beds would not sustain landscape material. He was also concerned that some of the memorial tree choices would not be hardy, permanent or tall enough.

Commission chair Emanuel Kelly reminded the presenters that comments made by the commissoners were recommendations and not suggestions. Kelly stressed that the next time the group presented before the Art Commission, it should present more information about the durability of the components that make up the park, that is, lighting and engineering detail.

Commissioner Moe Brooker opined that he believes the commissioners want the project to go forward and really just want to be assured of its permanent nature. “We want it to really last, so in the Year 2115, they will still remember,” Brooker said.

The commissioners unanimously recommended conceptual approval.

The 22nd & Market Memorial Committee:

  • Barbara Adams, Esq., General Counsel, Philadelphia Housing Authority
  • Jeff Braff, President, Center City Residents Association (CCRA)
  • David R. Brigham, Ph.D., President and CEO, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
  • Robert Coleman, fiancé of victim Kimberly Finnegan
  • Thomas A. Decker, Esq., Vice Chairman, Cozen & O’Connor
  • Kirk Dorn, Senior Director, Ceisler Media and Issue Advocacy
  • Nancy Goldenberg, Vice President Planning and Development, Center City District
  • Alexander (Pete) Hoskins, President, Laurel Hill Cemetery
  • David Seltzer, Principal, Mercator Advisors, LLC
  • Harris M. Steinberg, FAIA, Executive Director, Lindy Institute
  • Jerry Sweeney, President, Brandywine Realty Trust
  • Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, Ph.D., Senior Pastor, Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
  • John White, Chairman, The PFM Group

The Design team:

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Philadelphia Parks and Recreation; Scott Aker, Architect; Barb Fox, Artist; Hussam SH. Elkhrraz; Pennoni Associate Engineers (Civil, Structural, Electrical); Synterra Landscape Architects; Signarama, Center City; The Lighting Practice; L.F. Driscoll Co., LLC; Malvern Granite; William Penn Performance Glass; Joel Katz Design.

Watch full video of the hearing below

Memorial Park proportion study
Market Street Memorial Park proportion study

Phase 4 SEPTA 15th Street concourse improvements
Phase 4 SEPTA 15th Street concourse improvements

15th Street Concourse redo

SEPTA and BLT architects presented the second chapter of a three-phase renovation project for City Hall & 15th Street Stations Wednesday to the Philadelphia Art Commission.

This phase of the two-year, $19 million project will serve as the gateway to mass transit, with new entrances to SEPTA’s Broad Street Line, Market-Frankford Line and Trolley Lines in Center City.

Project highlights include:

– Elevator access to the 15th Street Stations on the Market-Frankford and Trolley Lines. This includes three elevators installed by SEPTA, two of which connect the upper concourse to both sides of the Market-Frankford Line, and a third connecting the upper concourse to the eastbound Trolley platform. 

– Two new fare lines equipped for the New Payment Technology fare modernization project.

– Architectural finishes, energy efficient lighting, structural repairs and waterproofing.

– Safety and security improvements, such as security cameras and fire alarm systems.

– Audio/video public address system and new signage, including electronic message boards

– Public art components

The commission granted conceptual approval.

Watch full video of presentation below

City Hall North Apron
City Hall North Apron 

City Hall portal gates
City Hall portal gates

City Hall Portal Gates and North Apron repairs

Philadelphia Public Property, Vitetta and Center City District presented plans to the Art Commission for a portal gates project for City Hall that has been in the works since 2001.

The designs for the immense stainless steel and aluminum gates are derived from drawings by John McArthur, the orginal architect.

The Art Commission granted final approval for the work with the provision that the percent for art component of the undertaking will be pooled with other projects. The Historical Commission will review plans for the gates in the coming months.

The Art Commission granted final approval to Public Property for Phase 1 plans to make alterations to the North Broad portal of City Hall that will repair extensive damage to the apron and allow compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to landscape architect Julie Bush of LRSLA Studio, the damage is due in large part to vehicular traffic (read parking), which will be greatly reduced once the renovation is completed.

The Water Department is working with the design team in order to facilitate storm water management. The Historical Commission has reviewed the plans.

Watch full presentations in video below

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