• Graffiti Pier

As you might recall, in the summer of 2019, we selected a team led by Studio Zewde to conduct a planning study and craft a conceptual design for the site known as Graffiti Pier. They were tasked with investigating the physical conditions of the pier and providing recommendations about its future design and use as a public space.

Knowing how special and beloved the site already is, public engagement is key to developing a design for this space. The team developed community engagement processes that worked with multiple stakeholder groups – artists from diverse disciplines from around the city, near neighbors in the Riverwards, and the general public – at multiple events. The plan was to convene an open house meeting in March 2020, but COVID-19 had other ideas, so we wanted to update you here with the team’s approach to the design of the pier, based on the public input we received in 2019. This is not the final design but a conceptual framework and few graphics to convey how the team is approaching the site.

At each of the Fall 2019 engagement sessions, Studio Zewde asked two simple questions:

  • “What is the worst thing that could happen at Graffiti Pier?”
  • “What is the best thing that could happen at Graffiti Pier?”

Emergent themes and common answers included keeping the space a “hidden gem,” maintaining and expanding artistic creation, and resisting the threat of over-commercialization and development. In response to these answers, the design team developed a Site Plan Framework around the idea that the space will be, “A publicly accessible place that feels found” supported by these four design goals:

  • Ensure the continuation and expansion of art
  • Keep the site vegetated and “passive,” not over-planned and overbuilt
  • Make the space safe and accessible without looking safe and accessible
  • Keep it gritty.

This framework puts an emphasis on maintaining and creating buffers between the park and the “outside world”: future development and sea-level rise are two key forces that could have significant impacts on the site and its surroundings. Keeping the sense of discovery that people expressed in earlier engagement as a special characteristic of the existing space is a central goal. Also, the design team recommended using a “light touch” – for example, removing invasive plant species while maintaining the green and vegetated state of the space and keeping the paths generally casual, but with new materials. Another idea is using the site’s industrial and artistic history to inspire the installation of a train car “folly” that honors the history of the space and allows for new places for artistic creation.

Take a look at the link below with a few slides showing the team’s approach to the design of the pier. Please note that these graphics and renderings are NOT showing a final design but simply represent concepts for moving forward.

Are we on the right track? Let us know what you think! Post your comments on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and stay tuned for future events both online and in-person. #MyPhillyWaterfront