Fire damages LOVE Park’s saucer

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, and hours after officials shared new details about the forthcoming overhaul for LOVE Park, there was a fire in the park’s space-age Welcome Center.

The saucer shaped building at the corner of 16th Street and JFK Boulevard, which predates LOVE Park, is set for a substantial renovation during the park’s reconstruction.

“The fire does not change our plans to fully renovate the Welcome Center beginning in spring 2016,” said First Deputy Commission for Parks and Recreation Mark Focht via email.

Focht confirmed that the fire was in the lower level mechanical room and several inches of water still need to be removed from the structure’s lower level. Once the water is gone, he said, staff will be able to assess the building’s mechanical systems. Some of the building’s systems were original, dating to the early 1960s.

Damage to the Welcome Center’s main level is not extensive, Focht said. On the main level 20 large windows were broken in order to exhaust the smoke. Plans for the saucer’s renovation by the firm Kieran Timberlake included total replacement of the windows.

This morning PECO shut off electricity to the Welcome Center building, but not the park, and Parks and Recreation staff are working to supply temporary electricity to support cleanup at the Center. The Welcome Center will be secured and closed until further notice, but the park remains open to the public.

The Fire Marshall has yet to determine the cause of the overnight fire. 

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