Another Modernist Plaza Reimagined

Philadelphia's Dilworth Plaza is another modernist civic construction that didn't live up to the architect's utopian ideals. A new design aims to create a more park-like atmosphere and improve transit access.
March 3, 2009, 5am PST | Tim Halbur
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"The mid-1970s design of Dilworth Plaza by Vincent Kling was a pompous, overblown and hugely expensive affair.

The plaza was conceived as a way to free Philadelphia's magnificent City Hall from a noose of urban clutter, but Kling turned it into a vanity platform for admiring his adjacent high-rises - the Municipal Services Building, Centre Square and the late One Meridian Plaza. It wasn't for nothing that Philadelphia's civic heart was dubbed "The Klingdom."

We didn't know it then, but the plaza was Philadelphia's Big Dig. First proposed by Mayor Richardson Dilworth in the late '50s, construction didn't get under way until the late '60s. The project, which extended the concourse to City Hall, dragged on eight years and ran millions over budget.

The consensus today, after a mere 30 years of use, is that the indulgent granite composition is a colossal failure. Though the plaza succeeded in giving us a clear view of City Hall's richly sculpted facade, it never became a place where anyone wanted to linger."

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Published on Friday, February 27, 2009 in The Philadelphia Inquirer
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