Sketch of draft concept for Lehigh viaduct gateway improvements

Once a vibrant commercial and industrial center, the landscape of Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood is now marked by large vacant buildings and lots that invite dumping and illegal activity.   As part of an initiative by the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), BWA architecture+ planning is working with the Community Design Collaborative (CDC) to create a welcoming neighborhood gateway along a particularly distressed section of Frankford Avenue.

This past Tuesday, CDC design team members from BWA and Think Green, LLC presented draft design ideas and solicited feedback from residents, businesses and other community stakeholders.  The presentation was part of a CDC design award to provide pro bono conceptual design for a welcoming neighborhood gateway on Frankford Avenue from Lehigh to Somerset Street, a stretch punctuated by the derelict Lehigh viaduct.

BWA's William Collett, AIA  presents the team's concept for beautifying the Lehigh viaduct over Frankford Ave.

BWA’s William Collett, AIA presents part of the team’s concept for beautifying the viaduct over Frankford Ave.

The draft design addresses several community priorities, including:

  • Making street more pedestrian-friendly
  • Slowing down vehicle traffic
  • Places to sit and play
  • Greening & beautification

Community input has been key to the design process from the beginning.  The gateway improvement project builds on priorities set forth in NKCDC’s 2013 North of Lehigh Neighborhood Revitalization Plan, which incorporated the findings of multiple resident surveys, focus groups, and public meetings.

Next Steps

NKCDC will compile community feedback and submit it to the design team, which expects to complete drawings in one to two months.  Then NKCDC and community stakeholders will use those drawings to begin fundraising  and implementation.

The design team includes Richard Winston, William Collett and Kathy Lent from BWA architecture + planning and Peter Johnson and Anna Schmitz from Think Green, LLC.  Many thanks to Andrew Goodman, NKCDC’s Community Engagement Director, for organizing Tuesday’s meeting.