Mifflin Square Park & Neighborhood Plan

“Keep it South Philly but with some perks."
Hector is working with a coalition of community-based groups, government agencies, and others to redesign a 100-year-old public park and create a plan for the neighborhoods that surround it.

In Summer 2016, Hector was invited by Mural Arts Philadelphia Restored Spaces to collaborate with a group of young people and teaching artists on behalf of a community coalition working to rebuild their park. Our charge was to investigate and report back on who runs Philadelphia parks: who makes rules, designs, maintenance schedules, and investment decisions. Over two months, we interviewed decision makers and local leaders, made site visits across the city, and developed large-scale drawings to communicate our findings. The Park Powers drawings have been displayed at organizational offices, the Houston Center, the Philadelphia Mural Arts Gallery, and in the park itself.

Building on our work in Park Powers, Hector has been retained by SEAMAAC Inc, the convener of the Mifflin Coalition, to lead the park design and neighborhood plan with goals of forming a broad resident coalition, strengthening nearby businesses, preserving affordable housing, and ensuring that current residents have a say in neighborhood development. While its underlying design remains nearly unchanged since its 1895 completion, Mifflin Square has been transformed by residents, and today includes courts for volleyball and kataw, frequent performances and events, and widely known food vendors. At the same time, these DIY improvement have created conflicts in the form of dust clouds, litter, errant volleyballs, bullying, and fear that the park might not have room for everyone. The redesign of the park aims to make room in Mifflin for the energetic and rich life of one of the most diverse areas in Philadelphia.

We have so far published two First Looks booklets sharing basic information and observations on the neighborhood and park, recruited and trained a group of Mifflin Community Design Leaders, and held a series of ten Mifflin Public Discussions hosted by local groups and using hands-on exercises and discussions in multiple languages to share knowledge and project possibilities for the park. In June 2017, we distributed an eight-language Mifflin Action Poster featuring Park Powers artwork through local schools and at a neighborhood convening that shared the results of the planning process so far. We’re now synthesizing all these conversations, drawings, and events to finish the park design and neighborhood plan for early 2018.

Learn more
An Investigative Approach to Park Design, Next City, 4/6/17
Mifflin Square Park & Neighborhood Initiative Hosts Community Event, Philadelphia Free Press, 6/28/17
Mifflin Square Park improvements start with small moves, build toward big change, Plan Philly, 6/27/17
Imagining a better Mifflin Square through memories and a cardboard model, Plan Philly, 4/5/17 
Planning Mifflin Square, South Philadelphia Record, 3/9/17
Designing Mifflin Square Park to unite a diverse ethnic neighborhood, Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/26/17
Reimagining Mifflin Square Park in 21 languages, Plan Philly, 10/5/16

Project sponsors SEAMAAC, Councilman Mark Squilla, Friends of Mifflin Square Park, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program’s Restored Spaces Initiative

Project partners Bhutanese American Organization–Philadelphia, Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, United Communities Southeast Philadelphia

Consultant team Hector urban design, planning & civic arts with Alexa Bosse & Marc Norman (design & planning), V. Lamar Wilson Associates (civic engagement)