Expanding on the success of Electric Street, a South Philly mural and light installation realized in 2016 by artist David Guinn, OLIN’s Summer 2018 Interns worked with the Community Design Collaborative and the Passyunk Square Civic Association to envision a conceptual design that extends the life of the vibrant mural throughout the rest of the alley, out into the surrounding streets, and deep into the heart of the community.
The current 30-x-15-foot installation along Percy Street in Passyunk Square uses more than 200 feet of LED light, illuminating an alley otherwise bypassed. Our interns worked to create a design which takes the existing mural one step further by luring residents and visitors off busy streets and into an immersive experience of art – underfoot, overhead, and all around.
The 10-week project kicked off with a community meeting held at the dance studio on Percy Street – the perfect location as the studio has used the alleyway as the backdrop for performances. The first meeting gauged community members’ interest in the project as well as their likes and dislikes for certain design elements. For those who could not attend in person, an online survey was offered so their voices could still be heard. The second engagement meeting combined the feedback offered from the first meeting, online survey, and initial concept proposals to continue the conversation.
After weeks of analyzing feedback and assessing focus points such as traffic conditions, hydrology issues, and cultural landmarks, the interns developed their conceptual design: a set of guidelines that can be used as a jumping off point to transform Percy Street into a welcoming artswalk. Their plan strategically places gateways and connections that draw people from East Passyunk Ave, Reed, and 9th Streets into the artswalk. Proposed elements include changes to pavement and lighting as well as phased murals and sculptural elements to expand the activation of the space during both day and night.
The interns presented their final design to community members and discussed potential next steps and considerations such as cost estimates, partnership opportunities, and a phased implementation plan. The final designs are expected to be published by October 2018. Although the summer is winding down, our interns’ hard work will continue to thrive as the Collaborative and PSCA move forward with the transformation of Percy Street.
I really enjoyed going through the community engagement process. Getting to know individuals, learning what they wanted during our first meeting and throughout the design process really shaped the way we thought about things! Every time we made a change, we asked ourselves, “Okay, but what about the person who lives in that house? What about what the dance studio owners said?” It really brought the concept of collaborative design home for me.
- Daria Kieffer, OLIN Summer 2018 Intern
My overall experience with the Intern Project was quite rewarding. The team of interns just vibed well with one another and we each played an important part in nailing down the final design and pulling the final booklet together. Each of us brought a diverse range of skills to the table that established a dynamic that kept things interesting and really allowed for the design to unfold naturally.
- Prince Langley, OLIN Summer 2018 Intern