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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Ecological Reconfiguration of Philadelphia by ecosistema urbano

February 27th, 2011 by Susan Smith

ecosistema urbano believes that the revitalization of urban life is not obtained merely by architecture alone, but by focusing on solutions which encompass all aspects of the city system.  Regenerating the networks of social, environmental, and physical elements plants the seed for flourishing, liveable urban communities.  The ecological reconfiguration of Philadelphia uses the city’s strong history of citizen participation to develop a sustainable and economically-viable landscape.

Aerial view of Philadelphia

Fast facts:

Project Author:           [ecosistema urbano]

Design Team:

Belinda Tato, Jose Luis Vallejo, Constantino Hurtado, Elena Prieto, Jaime Eizaguirre, Emily Kohl, Luisa Zancada, Hector Jimenez, Maria Eugenia LaCarra, Antonio Fernandez Caro, Francisco Blanco, Dario Vigil.

Project Lead for Urban Voids Project

City Parks Association of Philadelphia
City Parks Association stimulates visionary thinking about natural resources and open space in the urban community. From its founding in 1888, City Parks Association has encouraged the establishment and maintenance of public parks and open spaces in the city of Philadelphia.
City Parks’ programs foster ongoing dialogue and collaborative action among people committed to the stewardship of our city’s natural resources.

Ecological Corridor: Time and monetary planning process

Phase 0: A publicity campaign to excite the public for participation in revitalizing their city, with a website, a network of city actions and vehicle for citizen information and participation.


Phase 1

Phase 1: Using street reconfiguration to return Broad Street to its historic, pedestrian-friendly image by low-cost interventions: constructing bicycle lanes, planting rows of trees, and adding meridians in the street for trolley and pedestrian stops. Wind generators, icons for a new green Philadelphia, are placed in the meridians as a microgrid of alternative energy.  The ground floor and pillars of Junction Center are constructed.


Phase 2

Phase 2: Vacant lots along the Broad Street area are reactivated with low-cost actions for temporary public uses.  Networks of natural resources are established: a water purification system drains storm water and prevents flooding at historical creek sites in the area, and a series of wind generators placed along the street produce alternative energy.  These networks spark a public connection to ecology within the city.  The technical platform is added to Junction Center.


Phase 3

Phase 3: Strategic abandoned buildings are converted to create safe, vibrant neighborhoods.  Existing row houses are restored with façade improvements and reconstructed with interiors of light, changeable material that allow for a multitude of possible uses: stores, offices, activity centers, or homes.  New contemporary row houses are made with new materials but have similar dimensions to existing houses to maintain historical neighborhood identity.  The water and energy networks are extended. The large, multi-use space and rooftop of the Junction Center are constructed.


Phase 4: Expansion of elements to complete the Ecological Corridor.  Junction Center is new focal point for community and city activity.


Street View

Urban Catalyst: Junction Center.

Constructed in the lot across from the Wayne Junction Station, a new activity center of public and private uses provides spaces for civic engagement, social interaction, economic activity.  It is a gathering place for people of all ages and backgrounds.  Built in phases, sections are added based on demand for use and funding from its own economic viability.  Light, low-cost building material allows each part of the structure to be easily changed depending on season, program, or activity.  The light and transparent façade reveals the life and color within the structure to connect inside and outside activity. The center is a focus point for the surrounding community as well as city-wide businesses, organizations, and tourism. Highly accessible by public transit from the train station and trolleys along the Ecological Corridor, Junction Center connects the northern area of Philadelphia to key locations within the city.


North Broad Street

The refurbishment of existing row houses and the infill of vacant lots with contemporary new row houses in the area in front of the center is a pilot project for those along the Broad Street Ecological Corridor.


Street View

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