Extensive Improvements For Benjamin Franklin Parkway To Commence This Summer

Contact: Doug Oliver, Office of the Mayor, 215-686-6210, Timothy Gill, City of Philadelphia Dept. of Parks and Recreation, 215-683-0246


Philadelphia, PA - 06/07/2010 - Governor Edward G. Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter joined leaders from the city’s cultural and philanthropic communities today to announce the start of work on three major projects to dramatically enhance the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for residents and visitors:  streetscape improvements for the 2100 and 2200 blocks, restoration of the Rodin Museum grounds and courtyard garden, and the creation of an entirely new Sister Cities Park.  

These projects are part of a package of Parkway improvements first announced in July 2008 and supported by the city, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and private funders. Total costs for the work—which will also include improvements to the 1600-1800 blocks and Shakespeare Park in a subsequent phase—are estimated at $19.1 million. Fairmount Park, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Center City District are directing the respective projects.

“The improvements to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will help restore it as a tree-lined boulevard that is an appropriate home for some of Philadelphia’s most famous landmarks and cultural institutions,” Governor Rendell said. “In addition to making it a more attractive area for residents and visitors alike, the work will stand as an urban renewal legacy for future generations to enjoy.”

“I would like to thank all the project’s funders and partners who have worked together to make these significant improvements to the public realm of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, supporting our great institutions, welcoming the Barnes to the Parkway and providing the highest level of amenities to our visitors and guests,” noted Mayor Michael Nutter.

Breaking ground today, under the leadership of Fairmount Park, will be the streetscape work. The city will narrow the outer lanes of the 2100 and 2200 blocks, reducing the line of traffic down to one lane, and will add a parking and bicycle lane.  The inner lanes will be shifted to allow widening of the center islands at each intersection.  Taken together, these changes will dramatically improve the Parkway for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike. The major structural improvements will be completed by this fall, and the remainder of the work—including new trees and plantings—should be finished by next year.  

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis commented, “We are thrilled to begin construction. This work will significantly enhance the Parkway’s streetscape and is another milestone in the City’s work, with our many partners, over the past several years to upgrade our grand boulevard of the arts.”

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Fairmount Park and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) will oversee the work at the Rodin Museum, which includes a complete redevelopment of the exterior landscaping and the internal garden.  In addition, the museum’s roof and façade will be cleaned and restored.  Work on the building will likely begin this month, with the landscaping starting in July.  Work is scheduled for completion by spring 2011.  These improvements come on the heels of the restoration of the museum’s entryway, the Meudon Gate, which was completed earlier this year.  


“PHS has a long history as green guardian of sites along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, including Logan Circle and the grounds of the Philadelphia Museum of Art,” said Drew Becher, the new president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. “The Parkway is more than a grand boulevard – it is Philadelphia’s front yard, its cultural and civic showcase. We are proud to be working with the Museum of Art, Fairmount Park, and OLIN, the consulting landscape architect, on a new landscape for the Parkway’s jewel, the Rodin Museum, thanks to an extraordinary partnership of government and private foundations.”

“The Philadelphia Museum of Art is proud to celebrate these milestones that are benefitting the Parkway and the entire city,” said Timothy Rub, Director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “Our deepest gratitude goes to The Pew Charitable Trusts, the William Penn Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the City of Philadelphia, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which have shown extraordinary support for the improvement and continued growth of the cultural institutions along the Parkway. The project to rejuvenate the landscape in which one of this city’s artistic jewels, the Rodin Museum, is set and to make this beautiful space accessible to all is now poised to begin. In tandem with the improvements being made to the adjacent blocks of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the development of a new Sister Cities Park, this work represents a significant step forward for our city.”
 
Major changes will take place at Sister Cities Park, where—under the direction of the Center City District (CCD)—an entirely new plaza will be built. A new fountain will be installed on the plaza’s south side and will include a globe on which Philadelphia’s 10 sister cities will be marked, with jets of water emitting from each “city” in proportion to its size.  On the north end of the park, there will be a children’s “discovery garden,” featuring a pond and rock-climbing.  Work will be completed next year.

“The Benjamin Franklin Parkway is the setting for some of the nation’s premier cultural and educational institutions,” said Paul R. Levy, President and CEO of the Center City District. “For over a decade, the Center City District has been working to animate the Parkway’s public areas with new pedestrian lighting and signs, lighting the façade of all the civic buildings and more than one dozen public sculptures, improvements to Aviator Park and the construction of Café Cret on 16th Street. All this has been achieved through the generous support of local foundations, city and state government. We are delighted to be part of the next step of improvements with the creation of an exciting new children’s destination in Sister Cities Park.”

The Parkway project is supported by the City of Philadelphia, which is contributing $6.4 million, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which is providing $6.45 million to the city for the project.  The Pew Charitable Trusts is contributing $2 million and managing the private contributions of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation ($1.25 million) and the William Penn Foundation ($1 million). The Philadelphia Museum of Art has devoted $2 million to renovate the interior garden of the Rodin Museum.

“Work will soon be underway, from JFK Plaza to Eakins Oval, to remake the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as a great urban thoroughfare worthy of the cultural treasures that sit along it,” said Donald Kimelman, managing director of Pew’s Philadelphia Program.  “The exciting designs for the Rodin Museum and Sister Cities Park, as well as the parkway streetscape itself, are a testament to the creativity, hard work and cooperation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Center City District, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the state and city governments.  Those of us in the philanthropic community applaud their efforts and eagerly await a transformed parkway.”    

PHS, CCD and Fairmount Park have jointly developed a long-term maintenance plan to continue the Parkway’s high standard of landscaping after the work is completed.

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See the Fact Sheet, "Enhancing the Benjamin Franklin Parkway"   for more details on each project.

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