The Oval

Organization and community: Fairmount Park Conservancy (Philadelphia, PA)

The Oval is Fairmount Park Conservancy’s seasonal pop-up park on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which draws over 100,000 visitors annually. In addition to working with a group of more than 40 partners to program the site five days per week, over six summer weeks, in 2018 the organization engaged designers at PORT Urbanism to expand the footprint of The Oval to include pop-up sites on the apron of the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Franklin Institute, and to help them begin conversations with the public about future uses of The Oval and the entire Parkway.

Taking the theme of “What’s your Parkway, Philly?” Oval+ (“Oval Plus”) created focal points on the Parkway from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to Logan Circle – for connecting with nature; enjoying art, culture, and play; or gathering for public dialogue about the future of the Parkway. Three immersive, open-air “rooms” explored these aspects of the Parkway and its open spaces. One “room” invited visitors to explore the lost and hidden Fairmount Park. Another celebrated the familiar, and not-so-familiar features of Philadelphia culture and recreation. The third space, centered on a giant ground mural of the city, invited locals and visitors to literally draw onto the city what they imagine their Parkway to be. The new ground mural, designed by PORT Urbanism and painted by Mural Arts Philadelphia, complemented the installations at the Oval.