Monday, October 23, 2006

Boathouse Row or Parking Row?

Frank Gehry's selection notwithstanding, it looks like rototilling of the hillside behind the Philadelphia Art Museum for a new parking garage and an additional surface lot isn't going to proceed without complaint. The Philadelphia Parks Alliance and a Fairmount residents group have managed to convince the Fairmount Park Commission to hold a special hearing tonight, at 7 p.m., at the Horticulture Center to discuss the latest variation. Although back in June the commission approved the museum's plan to insert a 440-car garage into the rocky outcrop just south of the Azalea Garden (see my Inquirer column), it still needs to make good on a promise to provide the new Waterworks Restaurant with 84 dedicated parking spaces. The problem is that the park space behind the museum is already the most intensively used in the city, perhaps with the exception of Rittenhouse Square. There's just no easy place to carve out an 84-car surface lot.

In June, the museum, the commission and Olin Partnership were talking about paving a section across Kelly Drive, next to the Lincoln statue. That didn't work out, thankfully. Now Olin has come up with an alternative, which you make out in the image above. It involves colonizing a piece of land between Lloyd Hall and the Waterworks circle. It's being described as a less intrusive design, which will include lots of trees and won't have hard asphalt paving. It's hard to tell whether it will be acceptable just by looking at this pretty picture. The only way to find out is to show up at tonight's public hearing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

from what I can tell it means using that little island that sits between the river and the alcove.
good idea if that's what they want to do.

they had better do something. unless tehy can convince all those people to not park anywhere near there, with all the additional annemities (the river park, the water works and teh south garden)it will be a mess this coming spring.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Isn't that technically in FRONT of the Art Museum? I was always told that the "Rocky steps" were at the rear of the building.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They threw the island park in to make it look nice. The additional parking is hidden in the trees -- a small parking long just before you reach the circle. Hardly a great solution.

Mark, that's hard to say. The museum was designed such that the "Rock Steps" were the front, but since most people drive, the back (with its parking) has become the defacto front.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a "parking lot," not a "parking long."

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well... god forbid boathouse row with ample parking i suppose. inga saffron's ideal philadelphia=that with no parking whatsoever

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and yes inga, we all know that it is easy to protest parking stuctures. you do it on a weekly basis. you gotta dig your nails a little deaper to be a real architecture critic.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know anything about the Art Museum parking situation. However,did anyone see the Horror of a parking garage Jefferson Hospital constructed at 10th and Chestnut. Besides using cheap looking materials and a bad design, they added insult to injury by putting a bunch of vacant stores squarely in front, directly on Chestnut - about 10 in all - no takers yet. The design on this parking box looks like it should have been next to the Old JFK stadium or behind a runway at PHL Airport. Jefferson... Thanks for injecting a cancerous tumor into the heart of Philadelphia.

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not "adding insult to injury" to provide more retail space. That's actually one of the few positive aspects of that garage. The fact that nobody's taken it yet is sad, but very unlikely to be TJU's fault.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can’t see the “underground” garage and “sculpture garden” in the rendering. There will be an entrance to a 400 plus car garage off of the circle on Waterworks Drive. Focht maintains that the traffic study done for this project showed that the garage will not significantly impact traffic – which I have a hard time believing. The design of the trail also has some serious flaws. This is the center of recreational activity in Philly and there are already conflicts with pedestrians, cyclists, joggers and tourists. Creating new water feature is nice (even though there are numerous broken fountains along Kelly Dr. and Sedgely), but will only create more conflicts with different types of users on an already busy part of the trail system. Maybe if there was a safe way to cross MLK and an actual real sidewalk on the bridge over the Schuylkill more people would us the trail on the west side of the river.

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow...insulting Inga because she happens to see what many are ignoring as a major problem in Philadelphia, by calling her not a real architectrue critic?

last I heard she's one of the most well respected arch critics in the country, not to mention nomintaed for several awards.

we're lucky to have someone who calls it like it is.

I wish people would stop trolling this blog and give some serious insight. how about a solution every once in awhile.

here's one!! the site where the skate park is planned. according to Bacon and the study's done years ago, it was geologically sound enough to sink a 10 story parking garage. put the skate park on top.

get rid of the parking in the front of the art museum.
if you want to be a first class city, you have to get out of the car is our privaledge mind set. only we wopuld have a lot in the middle of taht great vista.

the city wants to save my lungs from second hand smoke? how about giving us better public transit and less reason to drive everywhere.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmm... a 10 story parking garage in the ground. if you could get anyone to stomach the bill for such a thing, then convince people to pay the price to park there that it would be necessary to pay for such a thing, people generally dont feel comfortable parking below grade, esp that far below grade.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Stealth43 said...

Unfortunately the water table would prevent putting a ten level parking garage entirely under ground.

Also, to the coward who called Inga out, yet posted anonymously...nothing needs be said :)

Inga is right, the planning for parking in Philadelphia is either nonexistent or very poor. Further, the design of these garages is, to say the least, uninspired. Blight might be a better word, turning a (potentialy) vibrant city into an urban wasteland.

Its dead on that what needs be done is a top-down (starting with the board) overhaul of a certain public transit agency.


10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear 8:24 anonymous - please read through the lines. The Jeff parking lot is a disgrace if there are no apts or offices above this vulgar garage - maybe that explains why no stores are rented. Perhaps you are too young to remember the Old EPPI Psych Institute or Byberry, but one needs to be on Lithium or Prozac when passing by that lifeless garage... That's not Jeff's Fault I guess... Right?

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:50 - I never said the garage wasn't vulgar. I was merely pointing out that you were essentially using the fact that there is empty retail space as an insult against it, when that space and the hope of what might go there is the only good thing about the beast. The fact that there aren't offices or apartments above it don't keep retailers away -- look at the ground-floor retailers in other garages around the city.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear 8:49 Anonymous glad you agree the Jeff garage is vulgar. However many of the parking garages have only recently added tenants to their spaces. The garage at 12th and walnut/sansom had empty spaces for years and the only unfortunate merchants to navigate to it all failed. the garages near the gallery all had nearly empty spaces under 10th and 11th streets. the garage at Broad and Pine had an empty store in it's only rentable space for years before Starbucks went in etc. Besides high wage jobs we need a better cleaner transit system I'm afraid...but thanks for your input!

10:21 PM  

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