A section of a giant mural on a Hahneman University building at Broad and Race streets collapsed Monday morning, damaging two cars parked in a lot beneath it.
No injuries were reported.
An estimated 400-square-foot section of the mural ripped away from the wall in high winds about 10 a.m., sending a section to the ground.
The large chunk of masonry foam stucco landed on the roofs of a Ford SUV and Dodge minivan parked side by side in an employee parking lot.
Jane Golden, founder and executive director of Mural Arts Philadelphia, said she was saddened and stunned to learn of the collapse and was thankful that no one was injured.
"It's shocking. I've never seen anything like it – never," said Golden. "We've done so many projects over the years and I have never seen anything like it – a chuck of wall falling down."
Police cordoned off the area and crews are working to stabilize the remaining mural, said Serge Bykov, a mechanic with Eastern Sign Tech.
Visible signs of rot were present on the fallen part from the older mural.
The collapse was brought in by the high winds which created a "suction vortex," Bykov said.
The 12,000-square-foot mural is entitled Independence Starts Here by artist Donald Gensler and depicts people with disabilities. It overlooks a surface parking lot on the northwest corner of Broad and Race streets.
Golden said they will immediately begin to work with Hahneman to figure out what happened and work to fix or replace to mural.
"We are open to whatever path is the best," she said.
"If it means the mural has to come down, we hope to recreate another with the same theme," she said. Golden was "moved and inspired by the resilience of all the stakeholders" at the time the mural was painted.
It cost about $75,000 to complete and was dedicated in November 2007 as part of the city's Mural Arts Program.
More than 4,000 murals have been created in the last 30 plus years, over half of which used woven panels known as 'parachute cloth." This is the first time that pieces have ever fallen off the wall using that method, according to a statement from Mural Arts Philadelphia