The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation was eager to improve the connection between several Philadelphia neighborhoods and the Delaware River. The Spring Garden Connector was notoriously dimly lit, dingy, depressing and it didn’t feel safe. The challenge was to transform the underpass into a safer and more welcoming connection to the waterfront, a major transit station, bike share hub and river trail.
Inspired by the Spring Garden Greenway theme, Cloud Gehshan developed an intricate American Wisteria pattern and design for water jet cut aluminum panels and structures. The theme, like the street name, was based on an abundance of wild wisteria, an early genus of flowering plant indigenous to the area that existed in the late 1700s.
Cloud Gehshan introduced the “wisteria” pattern” as a series of perforated, 1.5 ft deep by 13 ft high by 50 ft long aluminum portals in the center of the underpass. The portals were designed to float in front of the existing entrances and illuminate the arrival and departure experience for commuters. The suspended light fixtures incorporate the same wisteria pattern but were designed to be lighter and more cloud-like in form. Placed at regular intervals along both sides of the underpass, they cast wisteria patterned illumination on the walls and pedestrian sidewalks. The concealed, programmable LED lighting system animates the portals, hanging light features and street center columns 24/7, changing color continuously from soft pastels to more intense and primary color.
Instead of appearing neglected, the underpass is now a “wow.” The planner and project manager said they are pleased that this public improvement rejuvenated the underpass, elevated the public experience and is part of a larger plan to encourage private and residential development.
Jerome Cloud, Barbara Schwarzenbach, Stephen Bashore (designers); Kate Otte, Jay Hyun, Joe Thoma (design support and fabrication detailing)
The Lighting Practice (lighting design and specification), NV5 (project lead, landscape architect, streetscape planners and engineers)