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An invitation for arts groups to the redesigned Dilworth Plaza

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July 5, 2013   ·   0 Comments

This rendering shows how the 2.8-acre Dilworth Plaza, which lies to the west of City Hall, will be redesigned by summer 2014.

—>Sam reports on the possibility, in 2014, of art projects in Dilworth Plaza.  No money, but there will be space.–the artblog editors———–>

By summer 2014, artists and arts groups will have a new city venue to consider: the Dilworth Plaza at City Hall. A water-and-LED installation by Janet Echelman, new vertigo-inducing glass SEPTA station entrances, ice skating and space for arts programming are all part of the plans for a newly invigorated Dilworth Plaza. Though the project will be under construction for another year, Center City District recently hosted a meeting at City Hall to talk about future opportunities for arts programming and connect with about 60 representatives of various artists’ and creative groups.

This rendering shows how the 2.8-acre Dilworth Plaza, which lies to the west of City Hall, will be redesigned by summer 2014.

This rendering shows how the 2.8-acre Dilworth Plaza, which lies to the west of City Hall, will be redesigned by summer 2014.

Pro Bono performing

Center City District Vice President of Marketing and Communications Michelle Shannon said that arts exhibitions, performances and installations could be held potentially in every part of the plaza. The Philadelphia Orchestra, art groups performing “pro bono,” and a televised food cook-off were some of the events Shannon mentioned as possibilities. “There will definitely be arts programming,” Shannon said. But she cautioned guests at the meeting that there won’t be secured funding for such projects.

Center City District vice president of marketing and communications Michelle Shannon (at podium) tells arts representatives about plans for Dilworth Plaza, as Philadelphia chief cultural officer Gary Steuer (left) looks on.

Center City District vice president of marketing and communications Michelle Shannon (at podium) tells arts representatives about plans for Dilworth Plaza, as Philadelphia chief cultural officer Gary Steuer (left) looks on.

Philadelphia’s chief cultural officer Gary Steuer, who will be stepping down in October to become director of Denver-based Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, said that he imagines Dilworth Plaza arts programming as an outdoors version of the current “City Hall Presents.” That program is a series of free arts performances and events held every Wednesday evening from May to September in City Hall courtyard. Steuer said he expected temporarily unoccupied areas at the Plaza to be available for similar event series, including temporary art or sculpture exhibits.

A quick refresher on the Dilworth Plaza project

A video of Janet Echelman’s proposed “Pulse” project. Courtesy of The OLIN Studio and Studio Echelman

Plans for the enhanced Dilworth Plaza, which is estimated to cost about $70 million, were designed by Kieran Timberlake, OLIN, and Urban Engineers, Inc. They will remove the multiple levels the plaza is known for and instead replace them with a Market Street walkway, green space, a café, and a fountain incorporating Echelman’s installation, “Pulse,” which will represent the pulse of city life as a giant multi-colored EKG signal in the ground.

A different view of the proposed “Pulse” installation. Courtesy of The OLIN Studio and Studio Echelman

Plans for Pulse call for red, green and blue LED lights in the plaza’s new fountain to light up as subway cars pass underneath in real time. Highlighting the subway activity under the city streets, the installation also includes foaming water over the train’s path, invoking the archaic image of steam rising from old-fashioned locomotives. Videos of the proposed installation show a jazzy visual trio of SEPTA trains on an 11,600-square-foot canvas.

Executive Director of the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) Penny Balkin Bach, who was awarded Public Art Dialogue’s 2013 award at the College Art Association earlier this year, was previously awarded a 2011 Artblog “Liberta” for her work in bringing the Echelman installation to Philadelphia. The Echelman installation and plaza redesign are supported by a $400,000 Knight Foundation 2012 Arts Challenge Grant to Center City District.

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