Design Philadelphia Picks: October 13-23

DesignPhiladelphia is back for its 7th year, with a wide variety of events focusing on the many dimensions of design: graphic, industrial, fashion, urban, landscape, and beyond. DesignPhiladelphia runs from Thursday, October 13 through Sunday, October 23, and you can check out the full event calendar here. Should the list of more than 150 events overwhelm you, I’ve selected a handful that appeal to the urbanist in me. Bonus: they’re all free.

The Reading Viaduct has captured the imagination of DesignPhiladelphia this year:
  • Soaring and Submersive Part 1: 10/13, 5-6pm. FACTS Charter School, 1023 Callowhill Street. VIADUCTgreene and Reading Viaduct Project host a conversation about transforming 3 miles of abandoned rail beds into a new park.
  • Soaring and Submersive Part 2: 10/14, 1-3:30pm. Meet at NE corner of 22nd and Pennsylvania Ave, behind Rodin Museum. Go on a walking tour of the “un-Viaduct with VIADUCTgreene.
  • Future Meadows: 10/13, 7-9pm. The Action Mill, 319 A N. 11th Street, 4th Floor. Considering the Reading Viaduct as a living ecosystem and wildlife habitat with The Action Mill and landscape designer Margie Ruddick.
  • Leverage: Strengthening Neighborhoods Through Design: Ongoing through 10/23. Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch Street. To mark their 20th anniversary, the Community Design Collaborative is showcasing best practices in community design from Philadelphia and around America.
  • Old City Windows: Ongoing through 10/23, throughout Old City. Local designers take over different storefront windows in Old City to create new intersections between commerce and art.
  • BetterBlocksPhilly: Ongoing through 10/23, Opening Celebration 10/14, 6-10pm. 17th-18th streets, Christian to Catherine streets. Check out what a neighborhood Complete Street looks like, and how it can calm traffic and foster a better pedestrian environment.
  • Not A Vacant Lot: Ongoing, October 19-23. 4-7pm performances inside, 7-10pm projections outside. Closing party 10/22 from 7-10pm. How a vacant lot can become an arts venue. Curator Marianne Bernstein will install her Play House, where performances and video projections will activate the lot along with contributions from students from the University of the Arts and PennDesign landscape architecture department.
  • Innovative Architects: The Designer’s Role in the Energy-Efficient Retrofit: 10/17, 6pm. The Friends Center, 1515 Cherry Street. The Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster is hosting a presentation and panel discussion about how design teams can accomplish energy-efficient retrofits, using three outstanding case studies.
  • Renewed Urban Studio Tent (RUST): 10/18, 8:30-9:30am. Connelly Auditorium, 211 S. Broad Street, 8th Floor. Andy Walker and Andy Heisey will discuss the history of environmental art and their own work, RUST out of recycled urban materials.
  • It’s In the Bag – Community Building Through Sustainable Design: 10/18, 6pm. Café Cret, 16th and the Parkway. Hear how the Center City District’s desire to repurpose old street flags led to partnerships involving the prison system, a local nonprofit factory, and students.
  • Gray Area: Provocations on the Future of Preservation: October 19, 5:30 reception, 6:15-8pm panel discussion. Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch Street. A panel discussion with Tod Williams (Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects), Lloyd Alter (, Carol Franklin (Andropogon), and Randy Mason (PennDesign) will consider the ways new economic, demographic, technological, and environmental factors are changing preservation practice.
  • Transforming Dilworth Plaza: 10/21, 6-8pm. Art Gallery at City Hall, Room 116. The City’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, Center City District, Kieran Timberlake and OLIN will host a panel discussion on the renovation of Dilworth Plaza.
  • Symposium: Imaging and Imagining OurCities: 10/23, 3-5pm. Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad Street. An examination of how we image and imagine our cities and what our documentation and shaping of our cities means for urban futures. Panelists include Elijah Anderson, author and urbanist; Stephen Perloff and Matthew Christopher Murray of Held in conjunction with the Open Lens Gallery exhibition, Before and After Utopia: Images of Abandonment, Absence, and Aspiration.

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