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Site Plan and Design Guidelines for Independence Mall
Public Information and Review

Interested persons can find basic information and updates as the project progresses on this Web site and also at an exhibit in the Independence National Historical Park Visitor Center, at Third and Chestnut Streets, in Philadelphia.

Executive Summary of Project:
Site Plan and Design Guidelines for Independence Mall
Independence National Historical Park


On April 23, 1997, the National Park Service completed a Final General Management Plan (GMP) for Independence National Historical Park. The GMP is the document which will serve as the official guide to the management of the park for the next 10-15 years. In order to inform and encourage the variety of projects proposed for Independence Mall in the GMP, the National Park Service selected a professional design team, headed by the Philadelphia-based Olin Partnership, to assist with the development of a master plan and design guidelines for the entire Mall.

The design team includes Kise, Straw and Kolodner, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and Urban Engineers - respectively planning, architectural and engineering firms. The client for the project consists of a core group of National Park Service personnel from the Park, the Regional Director's Office, the Philadelphia Support Office and the Denver Service Center. Several outside agencies will be working closely with the National Park Service and the design team. These stakeholders include the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Friends of Independence Park, the City of Philadelphia, the National Constitution Center and the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

The Olin Partnership and its subconsultants will develop the physical design of the Mall based on the GMP's Selected Action and will produce:


The entire project is scheduled to be completed by October 1997. There are five phases:

Phase One: Data Collection and Analysis
Information about the various proposed buildings and their associated programs was collected, programmatic overlaps were considered.

Phase Two: Planning and Design Studies
Key issues and site specific opportunities and constraints were studied and are presented on this web site.

Phase Three: Master Plan Alternatives
The Olin Partnership and its consultants will develop alternative master plans for review by the National Park Service and the stakeholders. A preferred alternative. master plan will be selected and presented at two public information meetings in early September.

Phase Four: Design Guidelines
Physical design language will be specified which will govern future development of the Mall.

Phase Five: Site Plan Development
Schematic site plans will be worked out for Blocks 1 and 2 of the Mall.

 

Project Summary
Site Plan and Design Guidelines for Independence Mall
Independence National Historical Park

The National Park Service (NPS) has selected a professional team headed by the Olin Partnership to assist with planning and design for Independence Mall located at Independence National Historical Park. What follows is a summary of the background and purpose of the project, the expected input and involvement of stakeholders, and the schedule.

Background
The NPS' Final General Management Plan ("GMP") for the Park was officially completed on April 23, 1997, with the signing and filing of the Record of Decision by the Regional Director. With this filing, the GMP's "Selected Action" - with both park-wide and site-specific components has become the document that will serve as the official guide to the management of the Park for the next 10-15 years.
You can view the GMP elsewhere on this Web site, or obtain a copy of the full GMP or the explanatory newsletter at park headquarters.

The contract and the client team
The team retained by the National Park Service is headed by the Olin Partnership, a Philadelphia-based landscape architecture firm. The team includes Kise , Straw and Kolodner, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and Urban Engineers - respectively planning, architectural, and engineering firms, each also located in Philadelphia. The Olin team also includes a variety of other professionals, to cover a full range of the disciplines (interpretive planning, traffic engineering, cost estimation, etc.) that might be needed over the duration of the contract.
The Client team for this Contract is a core group of National Park Service personnel from the Regional Director's Office, the Philadelphia Support Office Independence National Historical Park and the Denver Service Center. The core team will be supplemented when necessary with NPS subject matter experts-for example, engineers, archaeologists, historians, compliance specialists, etc.

The stakeholders
Several outside agencies will be working closely with the National Park Service on the design and construction of buildings within the Mall. These stakeholders include the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Friends of Independence National Historical Park, the City of Philadelphia, the private, non-profit National Constitution Center, and the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

The task order #1 project and its schedule
Olin Partnership and its subconsultants will develop the physical design of the Mall, based on the GMP's Selected Action and on the best and most timely information that can be provided by NPS and the Mall stakeholders. All work in this task order project will be based on the GMP's general functional layout and associated urban design principles, which Olin Partnership has affirmed as providing an appropriate and solid urban design and planning framework.
The products produced by working in concert with the stakeholders will enable each stakeholder to begin its project with a much fuller and more detailed understanding of the applicable physical requirements and design language. Those products will be as follows:

Master plan for all three blocks of the Mall illustrating the design and the functional and programmatic relationships of what has been called the "campus" that the Mall is to become. This master plan will be brought to a level of detail responsive to the information provided by the stakeholders, as that information is refined through ongoing discussion with NPS.
The plan will set patterns of open space and buildings, and show the way in which buildings will define the Mall's open space, inflect its circulation patterns, and create or enhance views and vistas. Buildings will be located, their overall maximum envelope established, and whatever restrictions or freedoms associated with their realization defined. Design guidelines will add to this a definition of the design language. The locations of paths and walkways will be indicated in the master plan, and the overall system of pedestrian and vehicular circulation to, within, and from the Mall. This master plan will also be the vehicle for exploring and resolving several key issues left open in the GMP, such as bus loading and drop-off, or the location of the Visitor Center's proposed cafe. Furthermore, the master plan will identify and locate interpretive opportunities within the Mall.

The master plan will address the difficult issues associated with phasing of the projects, and with the physical ramifications for the Mall if any given proposed piece is not realized.
The development of this master plan also will provide NPS and the stakeholders with the first opportunity to evaluate the overlaps and potential programmatic interrelationships of the proposed new buildings.
The elements to be addressed in this master plan are those described in the GMP. On Block 1, these include the Liberty Bell Center, open space, the First Amendment Rights area, and new restroom facilities. The Block 2 components include its open space, special events space, the Gateway Visitor Center, the Independence Park Institute, the (rehabilitated) parking garage, bus drop-off and loading area(s), and improved access to the Free Quaker Meeting House, which will remain in its present location.
Block 3 includes open space, a gateway element, and the National Constitution Center. (For the NCC, the GMP provided the flexibility of locating along Arch Street on the north end of Block 2, or on the opposite side of Arch Street on Block 3 if increased square footage was found to be necessary and appropriate. The National Constitution Center has chosen Block 3.) The NCC also will incorporate a small maintenance facility for the entire Mall, and the National Constitution Memorial.

Detailed site plan for Blocks 1 and 2. This component of the task order project will involve substantial additional detail on Blocks 1 and 2, within which three projects, the Liberty Bell Center, Gateway Visitor Center and the Parking Garage rehabilitation/renovations, appear most likely to be the first among those proposed for the Mall to proceed to design and construction. The additional detail will include considerably more sectional and dimensional information than is expected to be produced for the third block in the master plan described above. It also will include more specific attention to the blocks' important urban design details: how all circulation through, around and beneath the block will occur, what connections will be established and the nature of those connections, what materials and open space treatments will be, the various edge conditions within and around the block, etc. In addition, the detailed site plan will define and locate the site's interpretive program elements, such as where interpretive media are installed, or where locations might be established within the open space for interpretive programs.

Design guidelines for all three blocks of the Mall. The design guidelines will define the physical design language that will govern future development of the Mall. At present, the level of specificity of those guidelines remains to be determined, and is in fact one of the key judgments about the Mall development to which the Olin Partnership team will bring its professional judgment during the project. However, at present, it appears likely that on some issues there is likely to be high degree of specificity: "build-to" lines, for example, or height limits, or views to be maintained/created, or prohibited materials (no vinyl siding, etc.).
It is important to stress that none of the major envisioned buildings on the Mall will be designed, even at a schematic level, in this task order project. Those will be undertaken through design contracts held by each stakeholder, utilizing the placement and relationships indicated in this task order's master plan and the architectural language in its design guidelines.

The project will end in October 1997. This deadline was determined because the GMP already has established the general placement and functional layout for the Mall's new elements, and the associated governing urban design principles. It also stems from the genuine need on the part of several of the stakeholders to meet organizational needs and capture funding opportunities, and to obtain the necessary framework to proceed with their projects.

Stakeholder involvement and review
Stakeholder contact with the Olin Partnership team always occurs through NPS. This requirement stems from both the fact that NPS is ultimately responsible for the planning and management of this unit of the National Park System and because limited time and funds are available for this project. There are five phases to this project:

Phase One: Data Collection and Analysis
Each stakeholder met individually with the Olin Partnership and members of the NPS client team. Information provided to the Olin Partnership through the NPS at the commencement of the project was reviewed, as well as evolving information.

Phase Two: Planning And Design Studies
In mid-July Olin Partnership conducted a joint meeting at which they presented the physical implications of the respective building programs and began the mutual discussion of the overlaps and potential programmatic interrelationships of the proposed individual projects.
Other projects points where stakeholder input will be necessary are tied to the phases of the task order project, as they are currently defined.


Phase Three: Master Plan Alternatives
Olin Partnership will develop and present alternative master plans for review by NPS and stakeholders. This will be in advance of, and in preparation for, selection of a preferred alternative. Two public meetings will be held at the end of this phase.

Phase Four: Design Guidelines
Olin Partnership will be developing the design guidelines. The initial outline and drafts at the points of 25%, 65%, and 95% completion will be given to NPS and the stakeholders.

During and at the end of Phase Five: Develop Site Plans
Based on the preferred master plan alternative, Olin Partnership will develop site plans for Blocks 1 and 2 at a level of detail suitable for preliminary design of proposed facilities and renovations. NPS and the stakeholders will receive review copies at the points of 25%, 65% and 95% completion.

Phase Two Progress Report

In mid-July, the Olin Partnership and its subcontractors conducted a joint meeting of the National Park Service and the park stakeholders at which they presented the results of their analysis of the site and a summary of constraints and opportunities. We would like to share this information with you.

Circulation and Parking

Circulation and parking within and throughout the Mall is an important issue which significantly affects visitors' experience. In order to create a successful master plan, it is necessary to consider what can be done in terms of street management to improve the environment in and around the Mall.

Graphic 1 and Graphic 2 : Cars, trucks, public and private buses, trolleys and horse-drawn buggies circulate around and through the park on busy, mostly one-way streets. These vehicles deliver the people who enliven and populate the Mall. However, there are often large numbers of parked or waiting vehicles in and around the park which enclose it with a metal wall, block views into and across the park, and create pollution with idling engines.

Graphic 3 : Pedestrian circulation varies significantly from block to block. It is heaviest in the first block of the Mall, between the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall, with many visitors crossing Chestnut Street in the middle of the block. The lack of pedestrian activity on the second and third blocks reflects the need for design solutions which would enliven these spaces and offer a new vitality.

Graphic 4 : In Philadelphia, vehicles rarely give way to pedestrians, and it is only safe to cross streets at corners with traffic lights. To reduce the hazards of mid-block crossings by pedestrians, the design of the Mall should direct people to intersections. Underground links between blocks could also be considered.

To reduce the hazards of mid-block crossings by pedestrians, the design of the Mall should direct people to intersections. Underground links between blocks could also be considered.

Graphic 5 : The entire Independence National Historical Park precinct should have identifiable gateways so that visitors coming from any direction will recognize that they have arrived at the park. Visitors arriving at the underground parking garage on the second block or at the subway station at 5th and Market Streets should also be welcomed into the park.

Streets around the Mall currently have from four to eight lanes of moving traffic as well as parking lanes. It is feasible to narrow several of the streets thereby enlarging sidewalks around the Mall and making streets safer to cross.

Bus Loading and Unloading

Forty percent of all park visitors arrive at Independence Mall by charter or school buses. It is necessary to identify potential locations where up to 15 buses can drop off or pick up passengers at a time. Long term bus parking facilities would be provided at remote locations, eliminating the impact of parked buses around the Mall.

 

Graphic 8, Graphic 9 Graphic10: Buses could use city streets for loading and unloading passengers. The north/south streets can accommodate more buses than the east/west ones, and standing buses along 5th and 6th Streets would not block visitors views within the park. However, given the current one-way street system, passengers would disembark across the street from the park rather than within it. Contra-flow bus lanes along 5th and 6th Streets would allow passengers to enter the park directly from the bus.

Graphics 11, 12 and 13 : Bus terminals could be located on park property in either the second or third block, either at ground level or underground. Ground level solutions are significantly less expensive to build, but would have a greater impact on the visitor experience within the park. An underground bus drop-off loop would minimize the sight and sound of the buses, but would require the creation of an attractive means of bringing visitors to street level.

Underground Constraints

Graphic 14 : There are several underground constraints to construction: utilities are carried under most of the streets, a subway runs under Market Street, a parking garage and PECO substation are under the second block, and extensive building foundations and rubble remain under the third block.

Sightlines and Viewpoints

Graphic 15 , Graphics 16, 17, 18,: Independence Hall is the focus of the Mall, and it can be seen from each of the three blocks, although various structures in front of and behind the Hall affect the way it is viewed.

Graphic 15 Graphic 20: From the west side of the first block it is possible to see Independence Hall against the sky rather than against the background of 20th Century buildings.

Graphic 21: From within the park, there are several potential visual links to other parts of the city, such as the tower of Christ Church.

Philadelphia Then and Now

Maps of 18th century Philadelphia remind us of how different the colonial city was from today. The State House (Independence Hall) was surrounded by open space, and was at the very edge of the urban area. The city is densest near the Delaware River, with gardens and orchards throughout. The urban grid, designed by William Penn, is no stronger in the east/west direction than in the north/south direction.

Graphic 23: Philadelphia has changed a great deal since colonial times. The city is much denser, especially towards the center, there is much less open space, and the urban grid is stronger in the east/west orientation than north/south. Remnants of colonial Philadelphia remain such as Elfreth's Alley which remind us of the scale and configuration of the original city.

 

Graphics 24-27: Eighteenth Century Philadelphia has wonderful human connections as seen in the scale of the streets and the heights and scale of buildings, from the domestic to the monumental. It is worth noting how these buildings relate to the street. Monumental buildings have more foreground space around them than domestic buildings do.

Too often we forget that colonial Philadelphia was a very modern city. It was the center of social and intellectual life in the colonies, the largest city in the English colonial empire. Its new residential, commercial and civic buildings were built in very contemporary styles. Today the city continues to enjoy a reputation as a center for architectural excellence.

Program Requirements

Several buildings will be built within Independence Mall:

First Block: Liberty Bell Center
Restrooms
Second Block: Gateway Visitors Center
Independence Park Institute
Underground Parking Garage (renovated)
Third Block: National Constitution Center
Park Maintenance Facility

Each of these buildings has program requirements which dictate their overall size. Most buildings would be more than one story in height, reducing their footprint on the site. Certain programs could share space, and hatched areas represent the anticipated amount of shared areas.

Outdoor program requirements include an area for small First Amendment Rights demonstrations, and a much larger gathering space for festivals such as the Welcome America event over the Fourth of July. Additional outdoor spaces would include picnic areas for tour groups and other outdoor seating areas.

It is one of the goals of the General Management Plan that the Mall will continue to consist primarily of open space. It will be first and foremost a park, which happens to have buildings, rather than buildings with some open space.