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Thursday, 25 February 2010


Landscape Architect Selected
for PAFA's Lenfest Plaza

With City Council having passed legislation approving the closure of Cherry Street between North Broad and Carlisle Streets, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) has selected the internationally renowned landscape architecture firm OLIN to design the public plaza that will be developed immediately on that site.

Named Lenfest Plaza in recognition of the $2-million pledged in 2003 by H.F. Gerry Lenfest and his wife, Marguerite, who is on PAFA's Board of Trustees, PAFA will unveil its plaza in the spring of 2011, which coincides with the opening of the newly expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Unifying PAFA's campus, the pedestrian court will stand between the Academy's Historic Landmark and Samuel M.V. Hamilton Buildings. With the Convention Center to host 1.5 million visitors annually after its expansion, PAFA will serve as a cultural gateway for the city and the starting point of Philadelphia's celebrated Museum Mile.

"Connecting the two buildings with an attractive and functional plaza is a great idea that will now happen," said Lenfest. "The Academy has a long tradition and ongoing excellence in the art world. The Plaza will make it more visible to both Philadelphians and visitors. Gerry and I are pleased to take part in this."

Open to the public 24-hours a day, PAFA's Lenfest Plaza will offer outdoor seating in an urbane setting. An upscale restaurant will look out onto the plaza from the ground level of the Hamilton Building. A major work of art is being commissioned by a renowned sculptor and rotating works of emerging and established artists will be continually on display, making this an exciting and inviting civic space.

OLIN, recipient of the 2008 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award, is internationally recognized for design excellence in landscape architecture, urban design, and planning. Their award-winning projects range in scale from master plans for entire urban districts, to the design of public parks and plazas, to intimate garden spaces and residences.

 Projects and clients include the sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Art in Washington; the Art Institute of Chicago; the J. Paul Getty Trust; the Museum of Modern Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and New York City Parks and Recreation. In Philadelphia, OLIN's clients include the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Comcast, and the Barnes Foundation.