Visitors to downtown Philadelphia should take notice of the new Sister Cities Park and cafe. Not only is it the perfect spot for a locally-sourced lunch in between touring the downtown museums, it's also a great spot for kids to play. The renovated park was designed by DIGSAU and managed by the City Center District, whose goal for the park was to create a space for visitors, children, residents and business people to use. Topped with a dramatic cantilevered green roof, the energy-efficient building makes use of daylighting, local and eco-friendly materials. Meanwhile the surrounding garden takes inspiration from the natural environment in Philadelphia. Our recent trip there has us dreaming of leisurely afternoon lunches in a beautiful park.
Located on the east side of Logan Square in downtown Philadelphia, Sister Cities Park is just a stone’s throw from the Academy of Natural Sciences and across the street from the Basilica Cathedral of Peter and Paul. Upon arrival at the Park, visitors are greeted with a spouting fountain that pays tribute to Philadelphia’s 10 Sister Cities. Surrounding the kid-friendly fountain is a landscaped garden featuring native plants to the area and a canopy of shady trees. Out of the 61 trees in the park, 51 were planted during the renovation.
The highlight of the park is the Cafe Pavilion and Visitors Center, which was designed by the local firm, DIGSAU. Starting from the monumental scale of the surrounding skyscrapers, the Pavilion helps transition down to the intimacy of the Children’s Garden. Designed to meet LEED-Gold standards, the Cafe Pavilion features energy efficient design and sustainable materials. A ground source geothermal system provides energy efficient heating and cooling and reduces demand by 31%.
Constructed from locally-sourced materials, the building features a striking cantilevered roof, which provides a large shaded patio — perfect for lunch outside. Wood paneling and a stone facade reflect the materials of the forests surrounding the city. Glass walls look out into the park and infuse the space with natural daylight with the help of skylights from the roof. The roof is covered with a 2,500 sq ft intensive green roof with deep soil that can soak up 3 inches of rain, which helps reduce storm water runoff – a major goal for the city.
Inside, visitors can find out information about the area, local museums, directions and help with transit. The cafe is run by Milk & Honey, a local restaurant, which offers up local food for breakfast, lunch and afternoon coffee. The menu, which is both healthy and incredibly tasty, has something for everyone and can accommodate even those with allergies. Right next to the cafe is the Children’s Discovery Garden, which is conceived as a mountain, with a nature trail and a boat pond. A meandering trail leads up the hill to a fountain spring, which drains flows down a stone river bed into the wading pond. Kids can play in the water, sail boats and cool off, while parents can watch from the charming shaded patio.
Completed in the summer of 2012, the $5.2 million renovation of the barren park has brought new life into Logan Square and is serving as new meeting spot for locals gathering for coffee or discussing business. The green design strategies and water wise landscaping are also serving as an prime example for new construction in the City Center area.
Images ©Bridgette Meinhold for Inhabitat
Check out more pictures of the Sister Cities Park & Cafe on our Flickr stream!