Philly’s iconic Ben Franklin Parkway to get a major redesign - Whyy

Philadelphia is moving forward on a long-term plan to overhaul much of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with an eye toward improving access for people walking and biking.

The city released a request for proposals late Thursday seeking consultants for a major redesign of a stretch of the Parkway between Logan Circle and the Philadelphia Art Museum. According to documents obtained by PlanPhilly, the city is seeking designs for “permanent improvements” aimed at making the avenue a more “pedestrian-oriented civic space.”

The joint RFP, filed by the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Office of Transportation Infrastructure and Sustainability and the Mayor’s Fund, calls for a total redo of Eakins Oval –– including the removal of a surface parking lot –– and better infrastructure for public gatherings.

All of it will be driven in part by a public design workshop slated to kick off in June following the selection of a number of qualified design teams.

“We want to bring in some of the best thinkers and designers in the world, hopefully, to help us think about what this space could look like and how it could serve Philadelphians better in the future,” said Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “We want more people to be on the Parkway. We want more pedestrians, we want more cyclists, we want more everyday users.”

The RFP, funded with $360,000 from the William Penn Foundation, would be the culmination of a planning process and design improvements that trace back to a 2013 plan called “More Park, Less Way.” Created by Parks and Rec in partnership with PennPraxis researchers, the plan ushered in a series of incremental investments in the auto-centric boulevard designed to make it a safer and more welcoming place for the hundreds of thousands of people who live or work within a 10-minute walk as well as the millions who visit each year.

Between the long-term momentum of these scattered — and sometimes temporary — improvements and the impending groundbreaking of a new museum to famed sculpture Alexander Calder this spring, it was time to finalize a unified vision for the upper portion of the Parkway, Ott Lovell said.

“We’ve made an incredible amount of investments already,” she said. “But we’ve got a parking lot at the end of our Champs-Élysées. That’s not the best use of that space.”

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