Tendrilescence is the name of an early artistic lighting concept for the still-being-planned Spring Garden Connector. That and additional plans for streetscape improvements under the I-95 Spring Garden Street overpass were presented at a public meeting hosted by Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) on May 29th.

Not so welcoming

Like the Columbia Avenue Connector we told you about last month, the goal of the Spring Garden Connector is to beautify and improve access to the waterfront, specifically with improvements to the block to the east of the Spring Garden El Station. A number of connectors, including the Race Street Connector, were included in the Master Plan for the Central Delaware overseen by the DRWC.

Race Street Connector

The Spring Garden Connector is different from Columbia Avenue both because of its wide size and the fact that it’s got the potential to be a much more vibrant thoroughfare, almost a gateway to the waterfront. However, the main difference between the two is the special artistic lighting element planned for Spring Garden Street. Columbia Avenue will feature art installations that tell the history of the Lenni Lenape Indians who once lived along the waterfront. In December, DRWC announced design firm RBA Group would design the Spring Garden concept, according to PlanPhilly.

Past the underpass, looking toward the river

“The need for improved lighting in that area is well known,” said Emma Fried-Cassorla, a DRWC spokesperson.

DRWC hosted the meeting and is overseeing the design concept and construction. Artist Leni Schwendinger, known for fusing art with light, has been chosen to create artistic elements that will also light the underpass. Her very early concept is tendrilscence, light created through images of plants that wind and weave together in golds and greens. Schwendinger has lectured and taught widely throughout the United States, Europe and Japan, and is currently on the faculty of Parsons School of Design in New York City. Her company, Light Projects, has created award-winning projects like its redesign of Queens Plaza and its public artwork for Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall opera house and theater, which was awarded the 2005 General Design Award of Excellence from American Society of Landscape Architects and the Lumen Award from the Illuminating Engineering Society.

We’re excited for a unique and interesting lighting approach for the underpass as well as the coming streetscape improvements. What’s even more interesting is that Schwendinger’s project must be both permanent and temporary because when the later phases of the I-95 Revive project come chugging toward Spring Garden, the lighting will have to be removed for a short period and then reninstalled. It’s great to see all this reinvestment and innovation coming to this bare strip of Spring Garden Street in the name of revitalizing the waterfront and making it more accessible and attractive for people to use every day.

–Lou Mancinelli