PHOTOS: Opening Weekend at the Christmas Village in LOVE Park

After lots of buzz and a two-day sneak peek, Philly’s Christmas Village in LOVE Park is officially open. The German-inspired holiday attraction kicked off Thanksgiving Day and, according to organizers, drew a record number of visitors throughout the first weekend. Check out photos from the festivities below:

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Art Installation Will Light Up Welcome Center in LOVE Park Redesign

Chromoscope rendering courtesy of Haddad|Drugan and Kieran Timberlake

“Chromoscope” rendering courtesy of Haddad|Drugan and Kieran Timberlake

When the redesign of LOVE Park is complete, the already-futuristic-looking Welcome Center will look even more like a hovering spacecraft thanks to a $230,000 art installation that will have red, yellow and green lights beaming from its ceiling.

The project — a ceiling mural called Chromoscope — was dreamed up by Seattle-based art duo Haddad|Drugan (Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan). It keeps in tact the pavilion’s lantern-like lighting scheme, but adds in layers of colorful aluminum panels to create a funky abstract design made up of patterns and symbols inspired by Philly’s artistic and local history.

The lighting and design work together to create a different experience depending on the time of day or what color is illuminating the ceiling. In the daylight or when white light is used, for instance, all of the layered images will be visible at once, really showcasing the abstract design as a whole. When the sun sets, however, the “pattern becomes animated and kaleidoscopic with the projection of colored light onto the ceiling,” reads a description from Creative Philadelphia. Each of those colors will bring out different patterns in the design.

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Art Commission Gives Thumbs Up to LOVE Park Redesign

Aerial view of the new LOVE Park | Renderings: Hargreaves and Associates, KieranTimberlake and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation

Aerial view of the new LOVE Park | Renderings: Hargreaves and Associates, KieranTimberlake and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation

LOVE Park‘s ambitious redesign plan was approved by the Art Commission this week. While accolades for the park’s overall design and its metallic, color-changing Percent for Art installation were plentiful, the Commission wanted one tiny thing added to the final design: two public drinking fountains.

PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports that the Commission added “a requirement for the fountains,” which is important because unlike the non-binding design recommendations of Civic Design Review, the public fountains are now legally required to be installed in the park. The Art Commission has some juice, baby.

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Christmas Village in LOVE Park Will Open a Wee Bit Earlier This Year

Image courtesy of Russ Brown Photography

Image courtesy of Russ Brown Photography

Once again, LOVE Park will be transformed into an open-air German Christmas market throughout the holidays. But this year, you’ll be able to enjoy it for a wee bit longer. Organizers announced this week that, for the first time in its history, it will open before Thanksgiving, during a sneak-peek preview on November 21st and 22nd. It will open back up for good on Thanksgiving Day, November 26th and be in business through December 27th.

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Final Countdown: LOVE Park Redesign Revealed, Readied for Approval

Aerial view of the new LOVE Park | Renderings: Hargreaves and Associates, KieranTimberlake and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation

Aerial view of the new LOVE Park | Renderings: Hargreaves and Associates, KieranTimberlake and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation

The team behind the overhaul of LOVE Park presented their final plans at a meeting on Monday night, and there are a few key tweaks to the design that was originally released in May.

According to Ashley Hahn of PlanPhilly, the construction budget has been upped from $11.2 million to $16.5 million in order to create a higher-quality space, and one of the more noticeable additions to the refined plans by Hargreaves Associates is a whole lot of color throughout the park.

The new LOVE Park will ditch much of the unwelcoming hardscaping and clunky access for a vibrant and more engaging experience where visitors can enjoy seasonal gardens, sit beneath shade trees or take in the sights of the city from the deck of the new dining area. Whimsical tones of pink, green and grey granite will further highlight each space and a metallic mural will be installed on the ceiling of the Saucer, also known as the Fairmount Park Welcome Center.

Oh, and don’t worry, the beloved LOVE sculpture is staying put, albeit slightly repositioned for optimal sight lines through to the Parkway.
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Fire Breaks Out at LOVE Park “Spaceship”

Fire broke out at the iconic LOVE Park “spaceship” overnight.

“The fire started about 3:30 a.m. at the Fairmount Park Welcome Center building at 16th Street and JFK Boulevard at LOVE Park,” NBC10 reports. “According to investigators, police officers on routine patrol spotted smoke coming from the building and alerted the fire department.” Read more »

We Left a Homeless Toddler in the Middle of LOVE Park

Photo courtesy @BillFish215 on Twitter

Photo courtesy @BillFish215 on Twitter

“Young Boy Found Wandering in LOVE Park.” It was easy to judge the story’s first headline, and judge I easily did. Why was a 2-year-old outside alone, barefoot, on a cold autumn night? What’s wrong with his parents?

But the second headline, well, that one was a little more difficult: “Homeless Toddler Inspires Fundraising Campaign.”

“Homeless toddler.”

It’s confusing to read and it’s confusing to type. It was ugly yesterday and it’s uglier today. I’ve lived in this city my whole life, and I like to think I’ve done so with my eyes open. I worked two blocks from LOVE Park for five years, and when I got on the El to return to my warm home every night, I didn’t take it for granted. Read more »

LOVE Sculpture Defaced With Anti-Pope Graffiti

Just a day before Robert Indiana’s AMOR sculpture was unveiled on the steps of the Art Museum, a graffiti artist took a can of spray paint to the artist’s iconic equivalent in Love Park. The LOVE sculpture was tagged with “#FuckThePope.” A photo posted last night on the Facebook group page “South Silly” showed the damage:


The verbiage echoes the sentiment of a trending Twitter hashtag of the same name. People are using it to gripe about Francis’s visit to the City of Brotherly Love this week. Some examples:

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The Saucer and the Fountain(s) Will Live on at New LOVE Park

All rendering via Hargreaves and Associates

The All New LOVE Park | All rendering via Hargreaves and Associates

If there is one major thing to take away from the newly released designs for LOVE Park, it’s this: They listened. They being lead designers Hargreaves and Associates, who along with KieranTimberlakeParks and Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy reimagined the iconic gateway to the Parkway as a place with both active and passive spaces that allow for visitors to experience Philadelphia in a special way. “It’s a major step,” said Mary Margaret Jones, President and Senior Principal of Hargreaves and Associates, of the resulting design. “It fits now.”

The design is a culmination of five public meetings and over 2,000 public comments, according to Mark Focht, First Deputy Commissioner of the of Parks and Recreation. Throughout the process, there were four main themes, which Focht summed up as save the Saucer, make it green, throw a lot of water in the air (“People love the water jets.”) and keep diagonal sight lines and create better access through the park. Let’s take a peek at how they accomplished these four goals.

The Saucer (Fairmount Park Welcome Center):

The big news is that the iconic Saucer will be saved. Richard Maimon, Partner at KieranTimberlake, said the group was “absolutely well aware” of the cultural significance of the building, noting that the original form–essentially a glowing lantern built five years before the park in 1960–had a sense of optimism towards Center City during a time of urban decline. As the single pane windows became more and more inefficient over time, Maimon said darker film was placed over the glass and the Fairmount Park Welcome Center, its official name, became “dark and unwelcoming.” It will be very public, open and bright. Read more »

PHOTOS: Community Leaders Remember AIDS Victims at Ceremony in LOVE Park

G Philly and I were honored to be included in an event hosted by ActionAIDS yesterday, where community leaders gathered to read aloud 5,000 names of local people (and a few celebrities like Rock Hudson and Liberace), who lost their lives to AIDS. Among those speaking were ActionAIDS Executive Director Kevin Burns, ACLU of PA Executive Director Reggie Shuford, William Way Executive Director Christopher Bartlett. and WXPN host DJ Robert Drake.

A group of about 30 spectators showed up to listen to the touching tribute, despite the fact that it fell on a day winter just so happened to return to Philly. (It was so cold!) We toughed it out though, and I feel comfortable speaking for everyone else when I say we’re damn glad we did. Check out photos from the event below:

The event took place exactly a week from ActionAIDS annual fundraiser Dining Out for Life. If you haven’t made your reservations yet, now’s the time. Check out the full list of restaurants here, and be sure to stop by the Gayborhood, along Locust between 13th and Broad streets, from 11 am to 2:30 pm on April 30th for the DOFL Food Truck roundup.

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