October 1, 2011 was the grand opening celebration of Lenfest Plaza, the new $3 million public space located at Cherry Street and North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA. Lenfest Plaza serves as the start of the “Museum Mile” that connects foot traffic from the Convention Center along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Plaza was developed by closing half a block of Cherry Street (between Broad Street and Carlisle Street) to vehicular traffic and reclaiming it for pedestrian use.
The day-long celebration culminated with a lighting of the 51-foot sculpture Paint Torch, the centerpiece of Lenfest Plaza. The statue, by world-famous sculptor Claes Oldenburg, is the artist’s first large-scale work to incorporate light sources, and it makes Philadelphia home to four large-scale public sculptures by Oldenburg, more than any other city in the world. Oldenburg’s first large-scale public sculpture was the 45-foot-high Clothespin created for Philadelphia in 1976.
Urban was a key participant in the design of Lenfest Plaza, including electrical, utility, and traffic design. “Lenfest Plaza is lit with low-voltage lighting, with LED lights utilized everywhere possible,” stated the project’s electrical designer, Avishek Datta. “At night, Paint Torch, along with lit curved benches and starry LEDs, illuminates the plaza, transforming it to become a masterpiece of its own.”