LOVE Park in Center City—home to Robert Indiana’s iconic, red, LOVE sculpture with the tilted “O”—will be undergoing a makeover in the next few years, and PennPraxis, the research arm of PennDesign, is partnering with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy to gather community input about the pending transformation.
Civic engagement days were held at the park on Sept. 17 and 20 to listen to ideas from park users and food truck vendors. Suggestions thus far have included a weekly farmers market, adding “twinkling” lights, and making the park more accessible for strollers and people with disabilities.
“We were out there on [Sept. 20] and you should have seen the line of people to take pictures at the LOVE sculpture,” says Bridget Barber, interim director of PennPraxis. “We saw one [marriage] proposal under the sculpture and three couples came to take wedding photos. It truly is a special place for Philadelphians and tourists.”
PennPraxis will continue taking suggestions throughout the fall. Anyone interested in sharing their ideas can do so on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook by using the hashtag #newlovepark, or by emailing PennPraxis at email@example.com.
The formerly city-owned garage located underneath LOVE Park at 15th Street and JFK Boulevard was sold in June to Interpark, a developer of parking facilities. An upcoming renovation project by the Chicago-based company is giving the city an opportunity to reimagine the park to make it more pedestrian-friendly.
PennPraxis has worked with the city on several projects in recent years, including a makeover of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and improving pedestrian access to east and west Fairmount Park.
“[The LOVE Park redesign] connects to those projects as the gateway to Fairmount Park and the gateway to the Parkway,” Barber says.
The “LOVE” sculpture was installed at its Center City location in 1976 as part of the celebration of America’s 200th birthday.
Penn’s “LOVE” sculpture was given to the University in 1998 as a gift from Jeffrey J. and Sivia Loria. The “LOVE” sculpture can be found in several other locations around the world, such as New York, Kansas, Utah, China, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, and Spain.