Plans for building parks—and opening waterfronts for public use continue to pop up across the country. Here’s the latest on an ambitious vision to rethink and reuse piers along the waterfront in Philadelphia.
Elevated Planning—and a Board Walk Too
Over the past year, parks across the country have reminded us how important our public gathering, green spaces and recreational outlets are—and planners and builders are leaning in, envisioning a next wave of possibilities. Manhattan’s building a beach and Des Moines just opened a riverfront skate park–the largest in the country. Now, as the American Society of Civil Engineers reports:
A series of crumbling piers along the waterfront in South Philadelphia will be converted into an ecologically sensitive public park, according to plans developed by the Delaware River Waterfront Corp., a nonprofit organization that seeks to “transform the central Delaware River waterfront into a vibrant destination for recreational, cultural, and commercial activities for the residents and visitors of Philadelphia….”
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Learning By Doing in Philly
Back in 2015, Philadelphia converted Pier 68 into a fishing pier, but the other three piers were left to continue on the path to decay and collapse. According to OLIN, the landscape architecture firm, plans for the new waterfront park involve reusing portions of the piers that can be restored, linking them in “an elevated, curving boardwalk that will, in places, be supported on the piers’ original timber piles.” OLIN observes that the park is likely to be built in phases—which has advantages
When construction eventually begins, the project will be completed in phases, likely starting with the work on Pier 70, the boat launch, and the boardwalk connecting Pier 70 to Pier 68. According to the OLIN/DRWC executive summary, phasing will allow for the park “to be built as funds become available.” But “it also provides the opportunity for learning through monitoring and adaptive management. Creating a freshwater tidal wetland on an urban river is a new and innovative endeavor, so future phases will benefit from the findings of the Phase 1 project.”
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