The Northern Liberties Streetscape Vision Plan transforms the vehicular-dominated N. 2nd Street in Philadelphia into a pedestrian-focused corridor anchored by nearly 2-acres of newly created accessible urban public space.


Northern Liberties Streetscape Vision Plan

Philadelphia, PA
Northern Liberties is a Philadelphia neighborhood situated along the Delaware River just north of historic Old City and south of Kensington. The Vision Plan prioritizes the reduction of an 8,000’ long two-lane city street into a single vehicular lane with a protected bike lane; creation of an 80,000-square foot woonerf that extends two blocks in total; conceptual design of bespoke urban furnishing including planters, lighting, pavilions, and wayfinding features; and introduction of more than 150 new canopy trees and the creation of more than 8,000-sf of understory planting, bringing a degree of biodiversity to one of Philadelphia’s least green neighborhoods. The plan centers around the transformation of the portion of 2nd Street between Poplar Street and Fairmount Avenue—where the street is widest and shade is most desired—into an urban park called the “Market Green.” The plan doubles the area of public space in the neighborhood.
Architect: KieranTimberlake
Landscape Planning + Design

Existing Conditions

The blocks along 2nd Street feel disconnected and lack cohesive character. The corridor is also dominated by vehicular traffic and is underserved by open social space, vegetation and tree cover.

Existing Conditions

From block to block, the character and scale of North 2nd Street changes significantly. To consider the opportunities and constraints across the length of the corridor, the design team analyzed the street in four distinct segments (three shown here).

Proposed Development

Many residential developments are planned around Northern Liberties and the area is expected to transform rapidly in the coming years. New spaces of collection and public spaces are necessary to maintain the vibrancy of the neighborhood.

Community Engagement

The Vision Plan incorporated what respondents hoped to see for the neighborhood. Stakeholder feedback was an important component in evaluating design options.

Proposed Configuration

The proposal achieves almost 2 acres of new public surface and adds 100 new trees, 425 linear feet of benches, 3,300 square feet of understory planting, and 4,300 square feet of canopy structure.

Poplar St. to Brown St.

In the center of the northern block of Market Green, the design proposes a grove of trees and a woonerf street condition, creating a central space and facilitating pedestrian movement across the street. The grove of trees becomes the anchor for the northern block.

Poplar St. Looking South

The proposed design maintains an 8-foot occupiable depth along building frontage, creates 300 linear feet of loading zones, and includes opportunities for stormwater retention and photovoltaic electricity generation.

Brown St. to Fairmount Ave.

The blocks of the Market Green are anchored by large planters that are integrated with benches to provide shade, space to rest, and separation from the road. A series of covered pavilions line the eastern blocks, providing accommodation for formal and informal gathering.

Allée and Planter

The placement of the planting elements and structures is informed by the street’s current conditions: the forms respond and adapt to existing trees and driveways.

Laurel Plaza

Laurel Plaza seeks to provide valuable, small scale community spaces while addressing issues of oversized, ill-defined vehicular zones, and stormwater management.

Laurel St. Looking East

The large green infrastructure planting area is situated across from the residential buildings, creating a quieter but still highly productive public space. Stormwater can be collected both from the sidewalk zones and streets, diverting it from the city’s grey infrastructure system.

The plan plants the seeds for vitality to occur, outlines priorities for the project, and creates a balanced approach to the many demands that are made of the city’s streets and sidewalks.

Indiv Exp_Project Five_Final Highlight ImageIndiv Exp_Project Five_Final Highlight Image