New Plans For Dilworth Plaza Redesign Include Cafe, Ice Skating Rink, Concert Space and Lots of Trees

Dilworth Plaza is set to undergo a dramatic transformation beginning in 2011. (Image courtesy Center City District)

The Center City District recently announced that it has been awarded a federal grant to redesign and renovate Dilworth Plaza, located adjacent to Philadelphia’s City Hall.

The redesign of Dilworth Plaza is intended to transform an underutilized concrete plaza in the heart of Center City into a green, pedestrian-friendly public space with new plantings, lawns, programmable fountain, a cafe with outdoor seating and two iconic glass entrances to the underground concourse.

The substantial increase in permeable surfaces not only will enhance the environment but also provide a more welcoming environment for commuters using public transportation and for events on the Plaza, which will include winter ice-skating and space for outdoor concerts and events that can accommodate up to 8,000 people.

Dilworth Plaza sits atop the intersection of SEPTA’s Market-Frankford elevated line, Broad Street subway and the Subway-Surface Trolley lines, and boasts easy connections to the regional rail lines, all of which bring over 300,000 transit riders downtown each day.

The sustainable design of the plaza will help achieve many of the objectives of Greenworks Philadelphia by reducing by 38 percent the existing impermeable paving, adding dozens of new trees and other landscaping, and reducing storm-water runoff through an irrigation system with water supplied by a rain-collecting cistern.

A few additional green facts about the new Dilworth Plaza.

The new plaza will be able to accommodate special events. (Image courtesy Center City District)

• 76 new trees will increase tree canopy by 26%, reduce ambient temperature by 2 degrees, and allow for a reduction of stormwater into the combined sewer system of 84,892 gallons annually over the entire site.

• The new trees will also help remove air pollution from the site, estimated at 12.92 pounds of ozone/year, 19 pounds of particulate matter/year, 6.84 pounds of nitrogen oxide/year, 6.84 pounds of sulfur oxide/year and 1.52 pounds of carbon monoxide/year.

• Design reduces by 38% the current 112,000 sf of impermeable paving by adding 14,600 sf of permeable paving.

• Design increases to 27,600 sf the amount of planted area from 6,643 today.

• The irrigation system will utilize a 36,000-gallon cistern that is designed to meet 100% of the site’s irrigation needs, eliminating the need for potable water.

• 5,000 square feet of wall finish in the new concourse will be salvaged granite from the existing plaza.

Construction is set to begin in 2011 with completion scheduled for 2013.

We can’t wait.

Pretty Visions of Dilworth’s Transformations [Philadelphia Brownstoner]


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  1. It’s a good beginning, next step: Market street ! Pedestrian street from the city hall to the Delaware River with restaurants, coffee shops…and a best access to the Reading Market and the Delaware River. Yes?

  2. Great start. Dilworth would not have liked the present design. It is unpeople unfriendly. Hard to tell from the drawing but it might still have too much dead hard surface. About the cafe, think of it rotating among Center City restaurants. Each can use the facility for a finite period, feature their specialties and offer discounts to come to their home restaurant. It would be a great way to introduce more people to the fine CC eating places. The variation would be fun, unique and exiting.

  3. My concern is still going to be the quickest straight-line between the subway exit and my bus stop… hope there’s not too many fountains and trees in the way, haha

  4. I cant wait! I would love to take advantage of this public space once it is complete. Hopefully the Winter ice skating rink is of a large size! Philadelphia was in need of an upgrade, especially the tourist areas of the city. I’m kinda excited…

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