The new Dilworth Park re-establishes William Penn’s original Center Square as a central gathering place for all Philadelphians – residents, workers, and tourists, providing continuous programming and information about Philadelphia’s attractions. The new park links the Avenue of the Arts with the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and connects the office district with Market East destinations. It provides new distinctive entrances to SEPTA’s trains and trolleys and makes both the Market Street Line and the subway-surface lines accessible by elevator for the first time.
The project’s design team was led by Urban Engineers, who collaborated with architects from KieranTimberlake and landscape architects from OLIN. Planning and design for the $55 million transformation began in 2007, and more than 60 meetings were held with various stakeholder groups who reviewed and commented on its design. Following publicly advertised open meetings of the City of Philadelphia’s Art and Historical Commissions, City Planning Commission, and City Council, the project was formally approved. On January 30, 2012, the official groundbreaking was attended by local, state, and national leaders.
The general contractor has been Daniel J. Keating Company, with 41% of their work subcontracted to female- or minority-owned firms. The CCD’s owner’s representative for construction has been Gilbane Building Company. The construction has created more than 800 jobs with 21% of labor hours on the site staffed by minority construction workers and 4% with female construction workers.
Dilworth Park is located on what was the city’s first water works and first public fountain in the 18th century. With the redevelopment, there is now a 21st century, 11,600-square-foot computer-programmable fountain fed with recycled rainwater. The park also features four tree groves with moveable chairs and tables, flower beds, benches, and a café with outdoor seating.
In addition to all of the new activity at the park, new elevators make transit lines more accessible and new stairs, sheltered by clear glass headhouses, will reach down from the surface level to the transit hub below, a system that transports 305,000 passengers through Center City each day. Working in partnership with SEPTA, new entrances have been created to both the Market and Broad Street Lines, turning Dilworth Park into the primary Center City transit gateway to the Sports District, to Temple University’s campuses, University City, and the balance of Philadelphia. The project also has completely reconstructed the concourse level into a new, well-lit space with clear lines-of-sight, and a range of new signs that orient transit passengers to the subway, trolley, and regional rail lines. Two LCD panels will display real-time information for five trolley routes servicing University City and West Philadelphia.
Due to five weeks of severe winter weather, the surface of the park is just 85%-90% complete, with new entrances to transit and the new concourse open and the northern two-thirds of the surface, including the café and fountain, fully operational. The remaining portion, including the lawn and walkways to South Penn Square, are scheduled to be finished between mid- and late October.
The CCD has a long-term (30-year) lease with the City to construct, maintain, and manage Dilworth Park as a public park. The CCD will assume all cleaning, site and landscape maintenance, and programming responsibilities for the park. The CCD has successfully created programming for the other parks it manages: Sister Cities Park at 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway; Cret Park at 16th Street and the Parkway; and John F. Collins Park at 1707 Chestnut Street.
View the slideshow from opening day: