Monday, October 19, 2009

Inga Saffron Thinks The New Barnes Foundation Could Use A 'Tavern On The Green'-Like Garden Restaurant

barnes foundation rendering philadelphia
Saffron thinks a cafe could better activate the 20th Street side of the plan | Photo via The New York Times

Inga wants the 20th Street part (on the right side in the image above) of the new Barnes design to get a little more animated and people friendly. And she thinks one of the better ways to accomplish this would be with a cafe or garden restaurant located on the 20th Street side of the plan.
The Barnes design, by New York's Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, gets an 'A' in aesthetics and an 'F' in urbanism.

It's not too late to improve the situation, especially at the critical, downtown-facing 20th Street corner, since preliminary site work won't begin until November.
[...]
The [20th Street] corner may be beautifully composed, with an elevated fountain that will be studded with water lilies, but another passive green space is not what Philadelphia needs to draw people to a street that is supposed to be its Champs-Elysees. And the drop-off plaza is vastly overscaled to accommodate the turning radius of the two charter buses that are expected daily. Nothing there will encourage exploration of the surrounding neighborhood, and the inactivity could even discourage development of the tracts of surface parking on Callowhill Street.
[...]
Fortunately, the landscape plan for 20th Street is one of the easiest things to fix. For starters, the architects could eliminate the drop-off plaza and replace it with a sidewalk cutout that would allow buses to enter and exit in the same direction. Who needs a turnaround when 20th Street runs only in one direction?

Activating the corner plaza requires more thought. The default solution is a cafe or, better yet, a garden restaurant such as Central Park's Tavern on the Green. Right now, the museum eatery is secreted in the rear.
Sounds good to us.

Related:
Changing Skyline: Perking up the Parkway - Even before the Barnes arrives, major landscaping projects will transform the area to make it more pleasing to pedestrians [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

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