The second phase of renovation on LOVE Park - reconstruction of its iconic saucer-shaped welcome center - kicked off Tuesday.

City officials announced that Saint-Gobain, a global building-materials manufacturer with offices in Malvern, will donate $700,000 in cash and construction resources to the new center.

LOVE Park, officially known as JFK Plaza, is in the midst of a yearlong $19.7 million redesign. The LOVE statue has been moved to Dilworth Park during the construction.

The newly refurbished park - with more green space, seating areas, and a new fountain - is slated to open in late spring.

City Council President Darrell L. Clarke announced Saint-Gobain's donation at a news conference attended by Mayor Kenney, Commissioner of Parks and Recreation Kathryn Ott Lovell, Managing Director Mike DiBerardinis, and representatives from Saint-Gobain.

Clarke predicted the park would be "the most awesome urban plaza in the world."

"What's that thing in New York? What's the one in New York?" Clarke asked.

"Bryant Park?" Lovell offered.

"Bryant Park. To heck with Bryant Park, we've got LOVE Park," Clarke said to applause.

The donation makes Saint-Gobain the presenting sponsor at LOVE Park for the next 10 years.

Lovell said any sponsorship insignia would be "tasteful." She said there also is interest in showcasing some of the environmentally friendly materials used on the site as an education tool.

The first step in construction is peeling back the park's surface to allow repairs to the roof of the parking garage beneath it.

The city sold the garage to InterPark in 2014 for $29.6 million and is using some of the proceeds to help fund the redesign.

DiBerardinis noted that the park is within a 10-minute walk of 60,000 Philadelphia residents.

"It's an important public space, and we have to make it as beautiful and attractive as we can," DiBerardinis said. "It, in part, concludes the work over the last decade that has really transformed the Parkway from City Hall to the Art Museum."

There's not much to see of the park now, save piles of dirt and construction vehicles, but at the news conference, city officials unveiled a large rendering of the space complete with face cutouts in which people can pose for pictures.

At the end of the briefing, John Crowe, the president and CEO of Saint-Gobain; Kenney; Clarke; and DiBerardinis all obliged photographers by placing their heads into the holes and smiling for pictures.

jterruso@phillynews.com

215-854-5506 @juliaterruso