paint torch by claes oldenburg | click > enlarge
David A. Rubin, OLIN partner and recent Rome Prize recipient, has designed Lenfest Plaza for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The plaza was created by closing a 220’ length of Cherry Street, from Broad to Carlisle, close to the Philadelphia City Hall. In doing so, a true campus was made for the Academy, linking the newly refurbished Hamilton Building with the historic Furness-Hewitt Building.
Rubin’s design includes a carpet of pavers comprised of a random pattern of precast concrete with colors inspired by the Furness-Hewitt Building’s handsome Cherry Street façade running the length of the plaza. In addition, a long over-sized curvilinear bench comprised of three parts is built from sustainably harvested black locust. The re-curving form is like a three-dimensional brush stroke running the length of the plaza, connecting Paint Torch, a 51-foot tall sculpture by Claes Oldenburg, to an elliptically shaped temporary sculpture platform. With LED lighting under the front edge of the bench, a path of light sweeps through the plaza at nighttime.
The passive SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) Broad Street subway line vents that run under Cherry Street were capped with a stage made of sustainably-harvested black locust to allow for bands to perform, for people to speak from or to sit upon. The resolution of this infrastructural challenge was founded on OLIN’s fundamental belief that a great public space serves everyone equally—in this case, a variety of seating options, opportunities to see and be seen, and flexible program space are key to the success and population of a great civic space.
The curvilinear bench, the temporary sculpture platform, a new café on the façade of the Hamilton Building, located opposite the stage are all part of the plaza’s composition.
[ about olin ]
OLIN is a landscape architecture, urban design and planning studio dedicated to creating timeless spaces that promote social interaction and enhance life. Projects include Bryant Park and Battery Park City in New York, The J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles and The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. OLIN’s team of landscape architects, building architects, planners, ecological engineers and support staff includes 11 partners: Laurie Olin, Dennis McGlade, Lucinda Sanders, Susan Weiler, David Rubin, Robert Bedell, Richard Newton, Skip Graffam, Chris Hanley, Hallie Boyce and Steve Benz. OLIN has studios in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. [ OLIN ]