LOVE Park is getting a new fountain, lots of lawn space, gardens, and a food-truck area. The question is, What goes where?
The design team working on the $15 million renovation of JFK Plaza presented four designs to the community at a meeting Tuesday at the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
The four plans, presented by Mary Margaret Jones, president of the project's lead architectural firm, Hargreaves Associates, include all the same elements but vary in layout.
The two greener proposals feature square-shaped lawns and sitting areas within the rectangle-shaped park. A third and fourth proposal involve slightly smaller lawns but more walking space and a pathway cutting through the park that would align with the LOVE statue and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Jones said the plans combined feedback from more than 1,000 people who attended meetings, e-mailed, or tweeted.
"We know people wanted seating, more green space, something that connects to the Parkway," Jones said at the meeting, adding that it also serves as a rallying place. "This is a unique place that is about open expression. If you're against fracking . . . if you want to propose . . . this is a place you come to exercise free speech."
The fountain dormant during the winter will be replaced - likely by pool-less geysers that shoot up from the ground and allow use of the space during the off-months. The four plans presented also included four fountain designs: a single vertical stream, a series of archways, and two more interactive fountains that people could cool off in.
The public is encouraged to take a look at the four plans and presentations from three previous meetings, available here. They can give feedback to the city or the Fairmount Park Conservancy.
A final layout, chosen by the design team after reviewing public feedback, will be announced at the April 30 public meeting, also to be held at the Central Library. Then the plans go to the Art Commission for reviews in May and again in the fall for final approval. A shovel likely won't hit ground until May 2016, said Mark Focht, deputy commissioner of Parks and Recreation.
The design team is still deciding what to do with the flying-saucer-shaped Welcome Center.
In February the Pennsylvania Preservation Alliance named the building one of seven endangered places to save given the city's plans to renovate the area. Organizers have said that if the building, which dates to the 1960s, is demolished, it will be replaced.
Jones said there were no plans for restaurants or naming rights to the park. There will be more public art, and the central piece, Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture, will get a face-lift of its own. It will be removed before park demolition, stripped, repainted, and stored until its new home is complete.