Final Countdown: LOVE Park Redesign Revealed, Readied for Approval

The design team has refined the final plans for the iconic public space, including the Saucer, and will seek approval from the Art Commission in November.

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.

Changes for The Saucer

The new Welcome Center

The new Welcome Center

The Saucer is getting a major renovation, and will become one of the main attractions of the park.

KieranTimberlake is heading up its design, and Hahn reports the plans for a green roof are no more, as “the structure is too delicate to support even the thinnest of systems.” Instead the roofline will be rounded (much like an actual tea saucer) and the structure will become a lantern for the park once again, thanks in large part to frameless glass panels that will soon wrap the building.

Once completed, the space-age Welcome Center will become a glistening dining hub with a new ADA compliant ramp for better overall access, seating inside and out, modern mechanical systems and public restrooms on the ground floor. The popular food trucks will be relocated over to Arch Street, so visitors will have plenty of options on both sides of the park.

Not wanting to install a piece that competes with the iconic LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana, the team chose a project by Seattle-based artist Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan (Haddad | Drugan) as part of the required Percent for Art program. The metallic piece will be installed on the ceiling of the Saucer and play off of the various colors found at the new public space. The rounded shape of the roof will allow it to be seen from the street during the day, and the entire building will glow brightly in various colors at night. Needless to say, it should be something to see.

It’s worth noting that there was a fire at the Saucer on Tuesday morning. When reached by email, First Deputy Commissioner for Parks and Recreation Mark Focht said the small blaze started inside the mechanical room on the lower level and that there was “minimal damage” to the main level, though 20 large windows were broken out to exhaust the smoke. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is unknown at this time. “The fire does not change out plans to fully renovate the Welcome Center beginning in spring 2016,” Focht stated.

The Fountain Now Has a Basin

There’s also been significant change to the park’s  geyser-like water feature. The previous design called for a basin-less main fountain jet where visitors could walk up and touch the water. Due to structural concerns for the existing parking garage underneath the park, those plans have been changed in favor of a smaller green basin that doubles as seating.

The “Bird’s Nest” of smaller criss-crossing jets at the base of the main fountain remain, and will act as a softer background for those taking pictures in front of the LOVE sculpture.

Color Will Define the Space

Whereas Dilworth Park is largely a monochromatic public space that acts as the front door to the most important building in Philadelphia, LOVE Park doesn’t necessarily have that responsibility or need that kind of stress in its life.

Typically, the improvements to the Saucer would probably be enough to brighten the landscape, but Hargreaves has decided to add pops of color throughout the entire park in the form of grassy spaces, multiple garden areas and even multi-colored granite.

As you can see in the gallery below, there are specific plans for each garden plot (seriously, look at the site plans as well as the renderings). The Arch Street planter, for example, will be a mix of reds, yellows and greens. Throw in a little bit of purple, and you have the palette for the north garden near 16th Street. On the south side, a calming collection of purples, blues, yellows and green will greet people near the LOVE sculpture towards JFK Boulevard.

Rain gardens will flank the fancy new jewel box headhouse areas that lead to the parking garage below.

Believe it or not, the hardscape improvements add to the park’s vibrancy as well. The fountain area will be placed inside a large granite ellipse comprised of green–yes, green–granite. The pinkish-red and grey granite that’s already in place will be cleaned up, recycled and re-installed near the LOVE sculpture. Also, five separate shades of concrete pavers will incorporated on site to further the experience.


The plan will be presented to the Art Commission on November 4. If everything turns out to be ship shape, the project is expected to commence around the spring 2016 and last 12 to 16 months.