Lenfest Plaza at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts unifies art and people within a civic environment in downtown Philadelphia. The plaza links together the Academy’s facilities, including the newly refurbished Hamilton Building and the historic Furness-Hewitt Building. Created by closing a 220-foot length of Cherry Street, the plaza serves as a threshold for Philadelphia’s Museum Mile and is home to Paint Torch, a 51-foot tall sculpture by eminent artist Claes Oldenburg. The curving form of an under-lit bench—designed to evoke the feeling of a three-dimensional brush stroke running the length of the Plaza—invites patrons to sit on either side—socializing and enjoying the Plaza from various perspectives. A carpet of pavers runs the length of the plaza and is comprised of a pattern of precast concrete, with colors inspired by the handsome façade of the Furness-Hewitt Building. Amidst one of the City’s densest infrastructure corridors, an array of utilities and a subway line ventilation system runs under Cherry Street. A sustainably-harvested black locust platform caps the vents while providing a space to host temporary public artwork of students, alumni and faculty—with each featured piece changing on an annual basis. Opposite the curvilinear bench and sculpture platform, a new café is soon to come.
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts