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2012 Award of Honor - "Re-Flect”
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Project Category: Open Space OS-14

Project Name: "RE-FLECT”

 Project Location:  Philadelphia, PA

Length of Design Effort & Date of Completion: 2010

Landscape Architect: studio JEFRE LA - Max Spann, ASLA 

Owner:  City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program -

Jane Golden - Executive Director 

Landscape Contractor:  studio JEFRE LA

In 2010 the Mural Arts Committee of Philadelphia issued a national design competition to develop a series of gateway sculptures.  The project is the first of its kind for the program creating its first three-dimensional living green mural.  Working with the Mural Art Corp Kids the team created a first of a series of living sculptures to educate them on the value of environmental art and benefits of rain harvesting and horticulture.

The Schuylkill River is a natural dividing line between downtown Philadelphia and West Philadelphia. Schuylkill River is translated in dutch for "hidden river” due to the heavily vegetated edges that camouflaged the river from the general public. The sculpture is composed of two towers with a reflective steel side and a heavily planted side to symbolize the qualities of the river. The first tower is oriented in the direction of contemporary Philadelphia and the second tower facing old historic Philadelphia.
 
Similar to the rich qualities of the river that reflect the evolving skyline it allows the visitor to stand in between the two towers and be reflected in history of both the old and new. The living sculptures are composed of herbs and succulence that contains a build-in irrigation system and is connected by a rain harvesting cistern and future rain gardens.

Within the 24 year history of the Mural Arts Program, its focus has been to work with inner city kids to create mural art projects that help rebuild a city. This project was the first of its kind for the program creating its first three-dimensional living mural. The landscape architecture team worked with the Mural Art Corp Kids to educate them on the value of environmental art and benefits of rain harvesting and horticulture. The kids looked at plants as a new color palette understanding the changing of seasons in order to create a transformative sculpture through out the year.
 
Working with local garden centers, the kids were educated in horticulture and studied plants as it related to seasonal color, texture and feel, The Mural Art Corp Kids then created a series of conceptual paintings based on plant material and worked with landscape architecture team on the design of the façade of both towers. The Mural Art Corp kids and local community then provided assistance in the planting of the green wall systems and irrigation system. The interaction of the kids allowed the community to fully participate in a public art and landscape architecture process that created a sense of ownership for a interactive sculpture.
 
As an extension of the rich urban gardening history of Philly the sculpture serve as three dimensional vertical community gardens that could provide edible products for the residents. The gateway is maintained within the cities public work streetscape budget. As understood this living sculpture is first of its kind within the national public art program and sets a great precedent for a City to undertake a level of maintenance that most cities will not for the value of education of providing environmental value within a public art and streetscape system.

 

Credits:

Lead Designer:  JEFRË
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MISSION STATEMENT Leading, educating, and participating in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.
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