September 12, 2014

Dilworth Park Opens

Glowing glass pavilions at Dilworth Park welcome commuters to underground transit in Center City Philadelphia.

Dilworth Park had its ceremonial opening last week, with a ribbon cutting by Mayor Michael Nutter, who called the renovation “one of the most exciting things to happen in Philadelphia in the past 50 years.” Now, two-thirds of the site adjacent to Philadelphia's City Hall is complete, and the remaining elements will be completed in about six weeks. KieranTimberlake worked on the project in partnership with Urban Engineers and Olin.

Mayor Michael Nutter takes questions at the official opening of Dilworth Park on September 4, 2014.

In the first week after the opening, Center City District, the non-profit entity that manages the park, hosted concerts, family activities, dance performances, and a movie night. Similar events are planned throughout the year, such as pop-up markets and dance parties. An ice skating rink will be in place in the winter months on the site of the fountain, and a public art installation by Janet Echelman will debut next year.

Children enjoy playing in the fountain for the first time.

Park visitors have been transfixed by the programmable fountain that activates the space with the sound of falling water and a place for children (and adults) to play. The fountain has 96 jets and uses collected and purified rainwater. It can be turned partially or completely off to provide space for events. 
"This is a new front door for Center City," says architect Richard Maimon, principal in charge of the project for KieranTimberlake, "it's a place for both large- and small-scale events, day-to-day circulation and meeting; a transit hub, as well as a place to pause and simply enjoy urban life at the very center of the city." 
Amenities include movable seating and wifi, new elevator access to underground transit, and a Cuban café called Rosa Blanca operated by Garces Group.

Glass pavilions allow sweeping views of City Hall and offer a grand entrance to Center City from underground transit. Their transparency permits daylight to flow into underground spaces.

The new glass transit pavilions vastly improve access to four levels of public transit that converge beneath Dilworth Park. They are constructed solely of uninterrupted laminated structural glass, with no metal structure supporting the walls or roofs. The pavilions lead to a renovated concourse beneath Dilworth Park, where SEPTA unveiled new entrances, elevators, and turnstiles. A single north-south pedestrian axis now connects multiple transit lines beneath the site. The south pavilion entrance will open later this fall along with the lawn and tree grove.

Signage describes the layers of history that underlie this site going back to William Penn in 1693.

Read more about Dilworth Park in this article by Ashley Hahn at Eyes on the Street: "Dilworth reopens refined: solid, smooth, and splashy."