Groundbreaking Ceremony for Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) Lenfest Plaza

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) will kick off the construction of its Lenfest Plaza with a groundbreaking ceremony on February 2, 2011 at 11 am. Confirmed guests include Marguerite and H. F. Lenfest, Mayor Michael Nutter, City Councilman Darrell Clarke, and State Representative Dwight Evans. Lenfest Plaza is scheduled for completion in late summer of this year.

Unifying PAFA’s campus, Lenfest Plaza will stand between PAFA’s Historic Landmark and Samuel M.V. Hamilton buildings. The new civic space offers public outdoor seating and rotating works of emerging and established artists in an urban setting. It was designed by internationally renowned landscape architecture firm OLIN. Their award-winning projects range in scale from master plans for entire urban districts, to the design of public parks and plazas, to intimate garden spaces and residences.

When the Convention Center’s expansion is completed with its front door across the street from PAFA, it will be capable of hosting 1.5 million visitors annually. “PAFA plays an essential role in the history of art not only in this city but in America as a whole,” said Donald R. Caldwell, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “That is why it is so important for PAFA to be the gateway to the art institutions in Center City. American art starts here, and the Lenfest Plaza is a wonderful place to begin the journey down the Museum Mile.”

An upscale restaurant will look out into the plaza from the ground level of the Hamilton Building. A 53-ft paintbrush sculpture, Paint Torch, commissioned by Claes Oldenburg for Lenfest Plaza, will extend between PAFA’s two buildings with a 6-ft paint glob situated underneath the paintbrush.

Said PAFA’s President and CEO David Brigham, “This is an extraordinary opportunity to create a civic space at the intersection of the Avenue of the Arts and the Museum Mile, and to enhance PAFA’s role as a cultural destination for regional and national visitors.”

For more information about the Lenfest Plaza, visit To RSVP to the groundbreaking ceremony, please call 215-972-0522 or email: [email protected]

The Lenfest Plaza is made possible by a generous philanthropic gift from Mr. and Mrs. H. F. Gerry Lenfest with additional financial support from the City of Philadelphia.

Image: Lenfest Plaza, Rendering courtesy of OLIN. Please note that included images are preliminary concepts and not final designs. Any artwork and sculpture shown are for position only.

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