Civic Landscapes Initiative:

April 14, 2015 | by Brooke Willmes

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has identify seven areas throughout of the city where its Civic Landscape Initiative would work to transform the landscape and create memorable public art spaces. Although the PHS group is well known for curating events such as the Philadelphia Flower Show and Pop-Up Gardens, they actually have a long history of improving Philly’s landscape. The PHS has helped launch improvements to the Azalea Garden, Logan Square, Penn’s Landing, Las Parcelas, and the backside of the Philadelphia, Museum of Art, they all look really nice today thanks in part to the efforts of the PHS.

After several years of conversations with community groups, planning with organizations, the first of hopefully several initiative programs will be kicking off this summer. PHS plans to overhaul the intersection of Kelly Drive and West Hunting Park Avenue to make it safer, greener, and most importantly more inviting. PHS plan a new entrance to Laurel Hill Cemetery as well. Efforts will also be added in to reduce a notorious stretch of Kelly drive known for speeding. Even though the average speed limit along this stretch is 35mph, studies have suggested that drivers race down the strip on average of 54.8mph. The plan is to turn the traffic light at Fountain Green Drive red if sensors along the road detected excessive speeding.

PHS has categorized each project under three different categorizes: Image Maker, Place Maker or a Partner Maker. An Image Maker are gateway project that will elevate the visual experience and create a sense of place, for example improving the landscape near the Airport and building a “Welcome to Philadelphia” sign along Amtrak’s entrance to the city.

The Kelly Drive project mentioned earlier will far under both Image Maker and Place Maker type of projects which aim to create a “grand civic statement.” A “Partner Maker” projects will be focused on community building. Most of these areas are still in early planning but the goals have been set. Along Broad, there are plans to connect City Hall and Dilworth Plaza with the Convention Center by creating more public green spaces, creating more inviting spaces just in time for the Democratic National Convention in 2016!

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