Philadelphia, PA - Exciting new features in the Courtyard at City Hall were unveiled today, highlighting this important public space’s history and its central place in Philadelphia’s heart.
The improvements include a stage, seating and a specially designed shade umbrella that collects rainwater and sustains the Courtyard’s green planters. The stage and other features will remain in the space throughout the summer and fall, and return each year. The new features will support the offerings of the Office of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy’s ‘Culture on Tap’ programing, the Mural Arts Program’s Monument Lab, and more.
“City Hall has always been central to our ability to deliver essential services to our residents and act as a steward of the public trust,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney “We now have a special opportunity to invite residents and visitors into City Hall’s ‘living room’ and ensure it serves our community as a vibrant and engaging public space.”
The new features to the Courtyard were announced by Managing Director MikeDiBerardinis and other officials at a lunchtime event. “This project is designed to strengthen the connections between people and place,” said DiBerardinis. “And it will generate a greater sense of belonging and inclusion through the creation of an inviting public space where everyone feels welcome.”
The Courtyard project was led by the Department of Public Property, along with the Philadelphia Water Department, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, the Office of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy, and the nonprofit, Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia. Exit Design, Sikora Wells Appel and Reilly Remodeling created the installation.
The Philadelphia team engaged in an extensive community outreach process including online and intercept surveys, interviews and focus groups, and pop-up interactions during recent events held in City Hall courtyard.
The installation also connects residents to Philadelphia’s historic and modern story of protecting water: signage and design elements illuminate a long-since vanished water works that once stood at City Hall, while other features demonstrate how the City’s innovative Green City, Clean Waters program uses rainwater to create new neighborhood green spaces and protect local waterways.
“By linking this site’s history as the birthplace of Philadelphia’s drinking water infrastructure with our current, innovative efforts to managing storm water pollution through green practices, this project truly pays homage to our City’s deeply rooted and thriving culture of innovation,” said Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner Debra McCarty.
The Courtyard project was made possible with funding through the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant. The grant focuses on “placemaking,” a movement that is revolutionizing cities around the world by boosting community participation in the creation, design, and unique programming of their public spaces. Technical support was provided by New York-based Project for Public Spaces, as part of the grant award.
“Southwest Airlines is proud to have supported the City’s efforts in creating a space where everyone feels welcome,” said Laurie Barnett, Southwest Airlines’ Managing Director Communication & Outreach. “Now more than ever there is a need for treating others with respect and understanding and celebrating our differences in a way that brings us closer together. Southwest is committed to building connections that strengthen communities and public gathering spaces, like City Hall Courtyard are an essential community asset in allowing those connections to flourish.”
“This project is especially exciting because of the active participation of Philadelphia’s vibrant designer and fabricator community,” said Fred Kent, President and Founder of Project for Public Spaces. “The goal of placemaking is to create great public spaces with and for the community. Through the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant, we’re looking forward to making the Courtyard an even more lively place where everyone in Philadelphia feels welcome and celebrated.”
The Courtyard at City Hall’s partners intend for this project to spur interest in the space and attract additional funding commitments for a permanent redesign of the Courtyard. Doing so would complete the vision for a cohesive network of public spaces from Fairmount Park to City Hall and build on the recent investments in City Hall and its surroundings, including the renovation of Dilworth Park and the JFK Plaza/LOVE Park Redesign.