We have found ourselves at the site of the former Festival Pier many, many, many times over the last year or so, as updates and progress in this rapidly developing area have kept us busy. A reminder, this project at 501 N. Columbus Blvd. will bring 470 units and 11 retail spaces to the Delaware River Waterfront. Anchored by a Sprouts Farmers Market, this two-building project called RiverMark Northern Liberties from Haverford Properties and Jefferson Apartment Group, is speeding along, with steel now up for the two main buildings. Let’s quickly check on the progress of this Bernardon-designed project before we get to the exciting new…uh, news.

Both buildings now above ground at the base of Spring Garden St.
A rendering shows the future view from the same spot

While construction progress is always exciting, we’re back here today for a different reason. Thanks to a submission to the Art Commission, we know now that a public art installation is coming our way, thanks to the Percent for Art Program. Even though the view as one heads into the development isn’t the most welcoming right now, the future view should be quite stunning, thanks to this new landmark from HADDAD|DRUGAN.

Looking east at the plaza between the buildings today
The future view, with a gleaming new sculpture

As this project is being developed on land procured through the city-owned Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, we now happily have a boatload more details on what’s coming to the river. River Soundings will consist of a 60′-tall stainless-steel sculpture, with dramatic, blue hanging-spheres meant to elicit thoughts of the history of this site and how it relates to the river. Movements and sounds will be ever-present in this undulating column, which will also have LEDs to keep this beacon glowing at the nighttime. An educational component will be included as well, connecting viewers to the history of the area through informational displays. Even more exciting, this art will be connected to other art works around the site – all of which will be connected by a continuation of the Delaware River Trail around the periphery of the property. Let’s take a look at the site plan and some of the incredible renderings.

Site plan shows position of artwork, along with connectivity to other pieces
Looking SE from the roof of the northern building
Looking north from the southern building gives an amazing perspective
A twilight look at the glowing artwork from the river
A closer look at the view from the river
The experience may be even more impactful up close
Looking up at the oculus from underneath

Sign us up for this every single day of the week. This $1.1 million project is looking for final approval from the Art Commission, leading the way for this to move forward. Assuming it gets the OK, installation should be completed in Fall/Winter 2024. We imagine it’ll get approved, and soon join an impressive array of art options along the trail. With the Ball-Nogues Studio work Weaver’s Knot: Sheet Bend further south near artist haven Cherry Street Pier, and a potential full Philadelphia Contemporary gallery floating close by, this stretch will offer plenty of beauty, both natural and man-made.

"Weaver's Knot: Sheet Bend" by Ball-Nogues Studio to the south
A floating gallery could join the future fun