Love and public space: It’s not destiny. It’s design.

LOVE Park’s new design ruins the much-needed distinction between park and city and gives us a “sterile, corporate landscape” with “mediocre architecture,” writes Diana Lind for the  Philadelphia Citizen. The park’s original design celebrated the everyday collision of civic buildings, transit hubs, portable foods, and glorious City Beautiful views of the Parkway, she explains. The new layout flattened a public space “full of nooks where users can find the right place to steal a kiss or smoke a cigarette,” replaced with a purposeful blank canvas seemingly designed to be activated only at the whims of corporate sponsored events. Which, Lind argues, “begs the question of what kind of park we want and who we are building parks for.” The original LOVE Park, wrote Ashley Hahn, with “its diversity of casual use, [was] a beautiful, rare thing.” Now with LOVE 2.0, Lind calls for people to reimagine and humanize this landscape to make it “worthy of today’s Philadelphia.”

In other design news, Mayor Jim Kenney and  Deputy Managing Director Michael Carroll issued a statement of applause on Friday in response to the City Council’s approval of three “complete street” improvement projects designed to increase safety for pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists. “Our office worked very closely with the City Council members Henon, Johnson, and Squilla.”  Carroll said in a statement released by the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems and the Office of the Mayor. “These projects demonstrate a commitment to safer streets by the City, Council, community groups and the neighbors they represent.” The approved projects — the Race Street Safety Project at Franklin Square, the Torresdale Avenue Pennypack Connector Project, and Island and Enterprise Avenue Repaving and Roadway Reconfiguration Project — received favorable recommendations by the Council Committee on Streets and Services earlier this month. Check out a map of the streets projects here.

The council-approved move forward on the city’s complete streets initiative comes as bike advocates battle a new bill to shift power over bike lane and related infrastructure from Carroll and other transportation planners and towards the council. In an op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dena Driscoll argues that the bill “would impede the ability of the Streets Department to implement simple and necessary street safety measures…[and] any future protected bike lane opportunities like Chestnut Street’s could be preemptively suppressed by any grudging Council member.” Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell introduced the bill on Thursday, one day before Kenney and Carroll issued their public thanks to the council members who voted in favor of the complete streets package. 

The highly recognizable, abandoned diner train car at Broad and Noble is on track to be refurbished as the new Rail Park HQ, Hidden City’s Michael Bixler writes. Bixler reflects on this “quirky little slice of North Broad history,” where the old Reading Railroad Car, built in 1922, first served as a luxury dining car, then diner in the 70s, and last occupied as the Philly Express & Steak Bagel Train. The train car has sat vacant since 2012.

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