Linda K. Harris, Director of Communications
History-Inspired Public Art Will Transform Dilworth Plaza
PHILADELPHIA (April 24, 2012) – The installation of internationally recognized sculptor Janet Echelman's public artwork, Pulse, will ensure that the $50 million transformation of Dilworth Plaza on the west side of City Hall will become a uniquely memorable public space, thanks to support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Commissioned by the Center City District, Echelman's artwork will be integrated into Dilworth's Plaza's new, 11,600-square-foot fountain, creating five-foot-tall, moving curtains of illuminated atomized water to trace above ground the real-time movement of the three transit lines that run beneath City Hall. Echelman's work, her first using this methodology, will create both a playful and animated embellishment on the fountain and highlight the existence of a transit system that brings 300,000 passengers into Center City each day.
"The plans for Dilworth Plaza will transform it into a focal point for the city's downtown – and Echelman's work will be at the center of it, a very public piece of art reminding people of the importance of the arts in their everyday lives," said Dennis Scholl, vice president/arts at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
"Center Square was the site of Philadelphia's first steam-powered waterworks and the setting for the Pennsylvania Railroad's major downtown station for steam-powered locomotives. Echelman's artwork was inspired by these historical references," said Paul R. Levy, President and CEO of the Center City District, "but uses contemporary digital technology to create a truly unique, kinetic and engaging work of modern public art."
The $400,000 grant to the Center City District is part of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Knight Arts Challenge, a $9 million initiative funding innovative projects that engage and enrich Philadelphia's communities.
Construction on Dilworth Plaza began in January 2012, and will be completed in early 2014. The plaza will be transformed from an inaccessible, multi-level, unattractive, hard-surface plaza into a sustainable, well-maintained, green public space with no stairs or barriers from the street. The new plaza will have a large lawn, tree groves, a programmable fountain showcasing Echelman's artwork, and a café with outdoor seating. The concourse beneath Dilworth Plaza will be dramatically improved as a new transit gateway, providing entrances to Broad Street and Market Street subways and the trolley lines. New elevators will make the transit platforms accessible for the first time.
Planning and design for the Dilworth Plaza project began in 2008, and more than 50 meetings were held with various stakeholder groups who reviewed and commented on its design. Following publicly advertised open meetings of the City of Philadelphia's Art and Historical Commissions, City Planning Commission, and City Council, the project was formally approved.
For more details about the project:
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation:
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The Knight Foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.
About the Center City District:
The Center City District, a private-sector organization dedicated to making Center City Philadelphia clean, safe and attractive, is committed to maintaining Center City's competitive edge as a regional employment center, a quality place to live, and a premier regional destination for dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Find us at www.centercityphila.org and on Facebook and Twitter.