On February 6th 2013, Philadelphia University landscape architecture and architecture students presented design concepts for a neighborhood in West Allegheny, Philadelphia, PA to a group of interested government officials. Among the attendees were Councilman Curtis Jones, Richard Redding, Director of Comprehensive Planning Division at Philadelphia City Planning Commission, SEPTA officials, ward leaders of the West Allegheny neighborhood and community members.
The students outlined design initiatives for sites in the neighborhood that ranged from a new community center to redesigning Allegheny Avenue. All the initiatives were part of a bigger planning effort in the studio to treat the neighborhood as an EcoDistrict. The concept illustrates the opportunities for shared resources, performance goals and measures that ‘scale’ up the sustainability initiativs. The designs all considered the need for a comprehensive framework plan that provided opportunities for shared stormwater, waste and energy management, healthy food options, economic endeavors, open space and park systems as well as social gathering spaces, all at the grassroot level.
The students’ work gathered quite a bit of attention from the city agencies as well as private developers and community organizations. Among the initiatives being explored based on the student work are a retrofit of a bus turnaround that includes rain gardens, permeable paving, new street furniture and lighting; a new gateway park that provides farmers markets, gathering areas, stormwater mitigation and signage; and a streetscape design for Allegheny Avenue including bike lanes, stormwater bump-outs, street trees, seating, bus shelters and pocket parks. All of these initiatives have prompted City agencies to work together to pool resources and expertise.
This project illustrates the University’s commitment to its neighbor, the West Allegheny community, as well as the City of Philadelphia, to use its knowledge and expertise to help with the many issues of urban areas. We are also providing our students with hands on learning for ‘real work’ with ‘real people’ with ‘real impact’.