About Strada

Strada means “street” in Italian. Streets matter to us. They’re the fundamental infrastructure of our cities and the core of our civic lives. They’re the connections between buildings, people, and public spaces. This is why we’re so inspired by them and it’s a shared commitment to these values that brought our principals together. Just as people mingle on city streets, our office is a place where we freely exchange ideas, challenging and inspiring one another to create exceptional work.

Latest Post

Strada Elevates Five Stradistas!

06.2022

The future is bright at Strada. The firm is committed to turning visions to reality and helping to shape new places across the nation.

Read More >>

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Street Talk

Fresh ideas about design

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Pop-up Places—Spruce Street Harbor Park

09.2014Ideas, Places
By Aaron Bell

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Placemaking

Arguably the most popular spot in Philadelphia this summer is the Spruce Street Harbor Park. Located along the Delaware River at Penn’s Landing, the SSHP boasts a surprisingly diverse number of activities and spaces for the public to enjoy. Having visited the site before, I am truly amazed to see the transformative power of a well-designed space that brings so many people together in what is an otherwise underutilized park. Pop-up parks like the Spruce Street Harbor Park challenge us to reconsider existing spaces within the city and explore their placemaking potential.

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Cultural

A large part of SSHP’s success is due in part to the designer’s ability to map the existing cultural landscape and transform those elements into prominent features of the design. Led by landscape architect David Fierabran, principal of Groundswell in nearby Hopewell, NJ, the designers installed a boardwalk along the existing quay of the Delaware River. The boardwalk was then lined with shops, arcade games, and other activities that draw directly from the boardwalk experience of Atlantic City, a popular vacation spot for many Philadelphians. In addition to the boardwalk, there are artificial beaches, gardens, sling-back style chairs and hammocks strung from trees, all of which further evoke summer memories for all who visit and enjoy the park.

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Nature

Water is an overwhelming part of this site, between the existing underutilized fountain to the rambling over-run river’s edge. Like pop-up parks, water is temporal in nature and changes throughout the seasons. In the summer, people are drawn to it to cool off, play in it, or enjoy the color and light rippling off of its moving surface. The design challenge is then, how do you amplify the site’s main landscape feature and make it more accessible? The design team cleverly solved this problem by utilizing three full-size barges arranged in a U-shaped pattern that allow people to access the space directly over the river and establish a lush new landscape. Meanwhile, the barges establish a direct link to industrial activities that once took place along the water’s edge.

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Economy

It is great to have an amazing idea for what do within an existing space, but it’s even better to be able to finance and build that idea in a sustainable way. The SSHP was estimated to cost $500K to implement with a majority of funding coming through the “Creative Placemaking” fund from the national organization Artplace. The remainder of the funding came from private donations, most of which were aimed at engaging the public’s interest in the Delaware Waterfront and hopefully leading to private and public development. This pop-up park is a catalyst for future designers wishing to create vibrant placemaking opportunities at a relatively low cost to the city, and it inspires others to consider how existing spaces could be made better by design.

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Aaron Bell is an architectural designer, who specializes in commercial design with a focus on adaptive reuse and renovation projects. He believes that every project site, regardless of its size, location, or limited resources, has tremendous potential to be transformed into something that is fun and inspiring for the people who use it.

Strada Elevates Five Stradistas!

06.2022People
By StreetTalk Editor

The future is bright at Strada. The firm is committed to turning visions to reality and helping to shape new places across the nation.
Read more >>

Transforming Buildings and Spaces for Life Sciences

04.2022Design, Ideas, Places, Stradistas POV
By George Poulin, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Working with researchers to design their facilities is a highly satisfying process. We’ve been fortunate to work within many of Philadelphia’s most iconic buildings to create spaces to foster the next generation of scientific discovery.
Read more >>