Urban Engineers (Urban) is pleased to announce the opening of the renovated Sister Cities Plaza along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, PA. The $4.6 million project was initiated by Center City District, in cooperation with the City of Philadelphia, to reclaim a neglected civic space. The Sister Cities Plaza was originally dedicated in 1976 in recognition of Philadelphia’s commitment to the international Sister Cities program.
Designed by the architecture firm Digsau and landscape architects Studio| Bryan Hanes, the innovative, family-friendly park features a fountain, pavilion, interactive children’s discovery garden, and boat pond that “connect nature, urbanity and culture.” The park’s design takes inspiration from the Wissahickon Valley, a wooded gorge extending seven miles along Wissahickon Creek in the northwestern section of Philadelphia. Sustainable design is incorporated throughout the park. The café’s green roof, coupled with geothermal technologies, help moderate temperature extremes in the building as well as reduce stormwater runoff. The roof, along with the native vegetation in the park helps reduce air temperature, smog, and dust.
Like the international flags that are on display along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, this park celebrates Philadelphia’s commitment to its ten sister cities: Florence, Italy; Tel Aviv, Israel; Torun, Poland; Tianjin, China; Incheon, Korea; Douala, Cameroon; Nizhny Novgorod Russia; Kobe, Japan; Aix-en-Provence, France; and Abruzzo, Italy.
Center City District retained Urban to provide construction management and construction inspection services for the public plaza which broke ground one year ago. Despite various challenges, including the discovery of approximately 60 remnants of 19th century graves beneath the park area, constricted spaces, commuter traffic, and events associated with nearby Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, construction finished ahead of schedule and within budget.
“The renovated, environmentally-friendly plaza is a stark contrast to the space that it replaced,” said Edward M. D’Alba, PE, Urban President and CEO. “We congratulate the Center City District, City of Philadelphia, project team, and the many contributors and donors that helped create this delightful space which will continue to have a positive impact on the Philadelphia community and its many visitors for years to come.”