It seems there'll be plenty of places to plant our petunias in University City District in the coming days. In addition to more parklets, (temporary spots that repurpose curb parking spaces for street seating or other miniature public spaces), as part of UCD's placemaking efforts in the neighborhood, the organization also plans to create and install a custom bus seat at 36th and Lancaster Avenue, and two more at future locations. These new seats, designed to provide seating and information to passengers waiting for public transit, are the latest in a series of social seats designed to be functional, versatile, and unique to University City.
The new bus seats are crafted from locally-sourced black locust, and made with replaceable components so that they can be repaired and maintained. Their distinctive red color was selected with input from the community to reflect the brick facades common in the neighborhood.
The design of the seats will allow for patrons to choose several different seating arrangements, and also allow them to choose whether they want to face the street, the oncoming bus or trolley, or the sidewalk. They will also have site-specific messages detailing the travel time to central locations in Philadelphia, and prominent signage identifying the stop's location.
The new seats were a collaborate effort between UCD's Policy and Research Manager Seth Budick, who conceived of the idea, and Capital Projects Manager Nate Hommel, who designed the seats and oversaw their production.
Hommel, whose previous work for UCD involving social seating includes LoopedIn and Tree Seats, said:
A basic tenet of urban design is that the thing you are creating should have at least 2-3 uses to justify its existence in the urban environment. If you're designing a normal bench it's just that—a bench. With these designs, even if people aren't using the bench to sit, they are still getting the word out about the ease of public transit. UCD is currently evaluating additional locations.