Overshadowed by the grandeur of the rest of Philadelphia City Hall, the building’s courtyard was always more of a space to pass through than a destination. When the Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia was awarded a Heart of the Community Grant, the City had the opportunity to transform the courtyard into the "living room" of City Hall.
Building on a long, dynamic history of planning and participation in Philadelphia, over 2,600 people took part in the placemaking visioning process, building excitement and interest around the opportunity. This process led to a vision for the courtyard centered around a flexible performance space, seating, and shade. In addition, a special goal for the project was established: to recognize and encourage the contribution of Philadelphia's vibrant artist, maker, and fabricator community.
To that end, Project for Public Spaces developed a request for qualifications to select a local designer/fabricator for custom-made furnishings. The winning proposal accommodated a modular platform that serves as a stage for performances and activities, provides casual seating, and even demonstrates sustainable water practices through a set of rain-water collecting umbrellas that filter water into a garden planted as a backdrop to the stage. In addition to physical amenities, the local graphic design team developed new signage with a tagline—"Everyone is welcome to City Hall Courtyard"—and translations into the four most spoken languages in Philadelphia. Today, City Hall Courtyard is used for everything from concert series to beer gardens to political rallies to children’s festivals.
Place Evaluation & User Analysis
Community Engagement & Visioning
Design Review & Oversight
Place Plans & Design