New visions for Penn's Landing

June 17, 2009 4:25:16 PM PDT
Potential developers have unveiled plans for a long-neglected pier.

Architectural firms pitched their vision for transforming the overgrown and neglected Pier Eleven into a vibrant waterfront space, to the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation today.

The architects are presenting designs that will breathes new life into the pier which sits abandoned in the southern shadows of the Ben Franklin Bridge near Race Street.

"We're bringing the pier to life in all of it's aspects: cultural, natural and historical," said Barbara Willis of W Architecture, "with the whole goal of making a wonderful place that people enjoy coming to."

It is part of a $3.2 million overhaul including neighboring Pier Nine and a former Philadelphia Water Department building.

"We are looking for something that is Philadelphia: exciting and really symbolizes the beginning of the work of the new Delaware River Waterfront Corporation," said the DRWC's Marilyn Jordan Taylor.

The pier makeover would be the first waterfront space renovated as part of a city mandate to create a walkable seven-mile stretch along the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

Right now the longest stretches of continuous walkway are a few hundred yards. One local firm, Andropogon Landscape Architecture, wants the chance to creatively connect people with the pier's natural social and environmental resources.

"To capture things that are free to us," said Andropogon's Jose Alminana, "the power of water, the power of place, the power of wind, the power of sun."

The architects were at a public forum on the Festival Pier at Delaware Avenue near Spring Garden Street until 8:30 tonight.

Already folks are excited about the pier's possibilities.

"It would be a nice place to go with the family," said Mizuki Harris of Mount Airy.

"I think it would be great," said Carmel Archdekin of Fishtown. "There's not really that much going on on that side of the city."

No matter which architect is chosen, the city wants Pier Eleven redesigned, renewed and ready for public consumption by sometime next year.

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