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December 24, 2016

Philly seeks ideas for 2017 installation at City Hall courtyard

Philadelphia's City Hall is an emblem of American municipal history, a 548-tall structure built over a 30-year period from 1871 to 1901. It's the tallest masonry-bearing wall structure in the world.

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What can be done to improve a place like this? That's the question Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is asking through the city's Southwest Airlines "Heart of the Community Grant," which calls for an innovative platform to be designed and placed in the City Hall courtyard next year.

"The Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia seeks qualifications from experienced local artisans, architects, designers, and makers who are interested in the design and fabrication of a modular, multi-purpose outdoor furniture element to be used in City Hall Courtyard, beginning in June 2017," the city said in a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) released this week.

In Kenney's first year in office, the city has increasingly sought to energize City Hall through the Office of Arts, Curlture and Creative Economy and the Department of Parks and Recreation. Two relatively new programs, Culture in the Courtyard and Parks on Tap, have brought routine social events to the courtyard, from musical and dance performances to kegs with local brews.

"This intervention seeks to build on recent investments in City Hall and to its surroundings, including the renovation of Dilworth Park and the JFK Plaza/LOVE Park Redesign to complete the vision for a cohesive network of public spaces from Fairmount Park to City Hall," the city further explained.

The RFQ calls for a movable, ADA-compliant platform that can seat between 25-60 people and be assembled and disassembled as needed to accomodate scheduled events. As part of the "Heart of the Community" grant, the platform must also represent some aspect of the city's efforts to improve stormwater management, whether sybolically or through an actual design feature. Once chosen and constructed, the platform will remain for a minimum of two years. 

Proposals submitted by the January 13 deadline will be evaluated by a selection committee comprised of the Mayor's Fund for Philadelphia, the Department of Public Property, the Philadelphia Water Department, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and the nonprofit Project for Public Spaces.