It seemed like everyone couldn't control their excitement when the new Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk opened last month. Inga loved it. PhillyMag Instagrammed the hell out if it. That is until we came to Geoff Kees Thompson from This Old City, who liked the boardwalk but felt there was a missed opportunity by not having an architect on board. "The absence of design is jarring," Thompson wrote. Abdallah Tabet, an architect and landscape architect with an impressive resume, decided to take on a little side project and show you Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk through the eyes of an architect.
Tabet's notes that it would have been easier to "hardwire" these elements into the original design, but a series of retrofits could go a long way into making the experience more inviting and dynamic. Something as simple as strategically installing plants and shrubbery could do the trick. "What if Race Street Pier was little more than a plain boardwalk with no plants?" asks Tabet.
While Inga Saffron thought it would be a better version of the Highline in New York', Tabet thinks it's the complete lack of any vegetation that is holding back the Boardwalk. Noting the lack of shade, Tabet suggested that the installation of a few trees and floating wetlands could further enhance the experience. He also mentions the installation of milestone markers, artistic site-appropriate furniture and lighter handrails as other possible improvements.
What do you think, is this nitpicking one of Philly's new public spaces or should an architect have at least been consulted with in order to make the Boardwalk a true experience?
· Revisiting Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk with an Architects Touch [This Old City]