Two placemaking projects to transform University City corridors

Two corridor transformation projects are coming to University City. Where the projects intersect at 37th and Market streets, leaders hope the initiatives will engage and activate the nearby universities, stakeholders and communities. 

With the support of a $150,000 ArtPlace grant, the new Department of Making + Doing (DMD) – a collaborative workshop launched at the University City Science Center last month – will work to activate the 37th Street Walkway that runs between Market and Chestnut streets and the Avenue of Technology that runs through the Science Center campus on Market from 34th to 38th streets. 

While the four DMD partners – The Hacktory, Breadboard, Public Workshop and NextFab Studio – are still ironing out the details, Breadboard Director Dan Schimmel said, “I think the feature piece will be some sort of pod or all-weather structure that we can open up and use as kind of like an outdoor flex space that we can use for any number of projects.”

Programming might include anything from projecting videos on the wall to serving hot chocolate in January or hosting art and technology workshops.

In addition to the pod, DMD hopes to create a “place making triangle” by involving its new headquarters at 3711 Market Street and the Esther Klein Gallery (EKG) at 3600 Market Street, where exhibits often explore the intersection of art, design, science and technology. 

Overlapping with this triangle of activity is the Art Along the Avenue of Technology project that will bring semi-permanent art installations on Market Street from 34th to 38th streets through a public art residency program. Like the DMD project, this Art Along the Avenue of Technology aims to engage the public and nearby stakeholders. 

This project is funded through the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art program, which gives one percent of the construction cost of some of the Science Center’s recent development to art related projects. Breadboard, one of the DMD partners and the University City Science Center’s arts and technology program, will oversee the program. 

“We’re looking to create enough buzz along that stretch of Market and promote it and advertise it so the communities and stakeholders… will know about it and come participate in it,” Schimmel said. 

“This really fits in with the Science Center’s plan to activate our campus and make it a more active destination,” said Jeanne Mell, vice president of marketing communications at University City Science Center. 

It is also part of a large effort to support Market Street heading west from the 30th Street area. 

Schimmel said that evolving from the success of The Porch at 30th Street Station, “There’s been a big effort to create a little more buzz heading up Market Street to 40th Street… I think everybody sees that the next stretch of Market is ready to be filled out with more pedestrian friendly activities and storefronts.”

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