2020 Edmund N. Bacon Urban Design Awards
Student Design Competition Brief
$25 | per entry at the time of submission
$5,000 | First Prize Award
Sign up now for more information www.PhiladelphiaCFA.org
August 1, 2019: Full Competition Packet released + Competition opens
November 22, 2019: Final date to submit entries
February 2020 (date TBD): Awards Ceremony in Philadelphia
Founded in 2006 in memory of Philadelphia’s iconic 20th century city planner, Edmund N. Bacon [1910-2005], this annual program honors both professionals and students whose work epitomize excellence in urban design. Each year, a professional
who has made significant contributions to the field of urban planning is selected to receive our Edmund N. Bacon Award. In addition, the winners of an international student urban design
competition, envisioning a better Philadelphia, are honored with our Edmund N. Bacon Student Awards. The combined awards ceremony is hosted in Philadelphia each February.
The Big Picture: Revealing Germantown’s Assets
Chelten Avenue is the heart of the Germantown business district in northwest Philadelphia. The most economically diverse neighborhood in the city, Germantown is an African American community which bridges the economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of North Philadelphia to the east with the wealthier Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill neighborhoods to the west. The Chelten Avenue shopping district benefits from two regional rail stations (along different train lines) and one of the busiest bus stops in the city, located midway between the
stations. In addition, the southern end of the shopping district is just steps from the expansive Wissahickon Valley Park, one of the most wild places in Philadelphia, visited by over 1 million people each year. Since the 1950s, many factors have reshaped the Chelten Avenue shopping experience from a pedestrian one to a more car-centric one. There is a high concentration of empty storefronts, neglected properties, buildings modified with inexpensive materials, parking lots, and fast food restaurants. In contrast with nearby Germantown Avenue, which features a greater density of historic building stock, the buildings along Chelten are typically low density one- to threestory structures with massive expanses of surface parking and vacant parcels.
In addition, some property owners are preventing development by holding onto vacant buildings and underutilized lots, speculating that their investment will increase in value – while simultaneously adding to depreciated property values and
a lowered quality of life. Despite the level of commercial vacancy, this thoroughfare serves as a connector and maintains a high volume of pedestrian and transitoriented activity. How might this historic shopping district be designed to better support the local community, improve safety and accessibility for pedestrians (and all modes of transit), and help reveal all the nearby amenities available to shoppers: from public parks and swimming pools to historic homes and urban farms?
Sign up for program updates and reminders at www.PhiladelphiaCFA.org! You will receive helpful reminders and, on August 1st, the Official Competition Packet (with full rules and regulations). The competition is open to all college or university students (undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral) who will be matriculating during the Fall 2019 semester. Recent graduates who are not enrolled full-time for Fall 2019 courses at a college or university are not eligible to participate. As you develop your ideas for this year’s competition, consider:
Germantown is full of and surrounded by many amazing amenities and public spaces including nearly twenty public parks, libraries, over 15 historic house and museums and attractions, and even a little-known indoor public pool that’s open year-round. How can good urban design help reveal these and other community assets to residents and visitors to the Chelten Avenue shopping district?
The Chelten Avenue shopping district is served on both the northern and southern ends by SEPTA Regional Rail stations: Germantown Station and Chelten Avenue Station. In addition, one of the busiest bus stops in the city is located in the middle
of the neighborhood’s shopping district at the intersection of Chelten Avenue and Greene Street. How could all three stations be better connected for pedestrians and how could these stations’ locations be better revealed to pedestrians on
the street? In addition, how could this shopping district be better designed to support pedestrians, bikers, families, and people with mobility, vision, and hearing differences?
While there are many beautiful public parks in Germantown, the Chelten Avenue shopping district is relatively inhospitable to those seeking cover from sun and rain or seeking spaces to gather, rest, relax, and play. What opportunities could be created for respite or play along this commercial corridor? Are there any lessons that can be learned from the challenges faced by the Maplewood Pedestrian Mall’s design, located just a block east of Chelten Avenue?
Effective Use of Land
Quite a bit of the land on either side of Chelten Avenue is dedicated to open-air parking. Some buildings and properties along the Avenue are underutlizied and being being held by owners hoping to cash in on rising property values; in the
meantime, many storefronts remain vacant. While understanding that some parking is necessary in a shopping district, and that not all properties can be constantly occupied by stores and restaurants, how might the owners of these two types of properties be encouraged to make better use of them for the community in the near-term?