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  • Charrette

Mixed-Use and Multi-Generational: 8th and Berks Re-Imagined

  • A homeowner from the APM neighborhood comments on redevelopment schemes for 8th and Berks.

How do you make the most of the opportunity to redevelop the "last large aggregation of land in lower Eastern North Philadelphia?"

Sometime in the near future, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority will issue an RFP for a 1.8-acre of vacant land at 8th and Berks Street. Once caught in the development  lull immediately east of Temple University Station, the prospects for this transit-rich site have improved thanks to a rising real estate market and dropping crime rates.

8th and Berks was the focus of the Collaborative's November 1 design charrette in partnership with APM, LISC Philadelphia, the Office of Housing and Community Development, and AIA Philadelphia.

Andrew Frishkoff, executive director of LISC Philadelphia, listed three requirements from the design charrette: come up with a metric that's better than what the city would get if it  just opened the site up for bid, do no harm to the surrounding community, and relate to Berks Street---a key north-south connector in Eastern North Philadelphia.

Design professionals, CHAD students, and APM residents considered the future of the site together. The five re-imaginings of 8th and Berks that resulted varied in land-use mix and density but contained several common threads.

All the redevelopment scenarios added Third Places where locals can meet and collaborate. They laid out pathways through the site that link neighborhood assets and manage stormwater. They proposed gathering spaces and retail to animate Berks Street. And most envisioned housing that would foster multi-generational living.

The five scenarios will be synthesized into a conceptual site plan to help APM and LISC Philadelphia communicate a redevelopment strategy that responds to the needs of the community. See scenes and sketches from the design charrette below.

Photography by Jane Whitehouse. 

  • CHAD team at work. CHAD student Hanifah Jones said, “We want to have something on the street that college students and residents come to… so that they can have a common ground.”

  • The Red Team's theme was “neighborhood crossroads." Their scheme included a distinctively-shaped gateway to a green space off Berks Street.

  • The Yellow Team fully embraced multi-generational living with housing and a senior center. Architect Alice Berman explained, “We tried to think of the senior center as a multi-generational use."

  • The Blue Team's design modeled their plan on the village, "intentionally porous and with a transition in scale." Their scheme offered housing for both seniors and families and shared outdoor space.

  • The Green Team "creates spaces where things can happen... cookouts, community gardening" with a "threaded pathway" and plaza that support mixed-use development with mixed-income housing for seniors.




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