OURS explores Philadelphia during fall trip

December 2, 2009

In mid-November, CRP Visiting Lecturer George Frantz accompanied nearly three-dozen Organization of Urban and Regional Studies (OURS) students on a trip to Philadelphia to witness city planning in practice. Philadelphia was chosen as the destination for the fall trip because “as one of America's oldest cities it has undergone a massive amount of change in both its built environment and demographic makeup,” said Phoebe White (B.S. URS ’11).

The trip included visits to historic sites, meetings with the Community Design Collaborative and Philadelphia Housing Authority, and a walking tour of the city led by Patrick Starr, vice president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC).

Jessica Yoon (B.S. URS ’10) said, “It was really great to see all the examples of adaptive reuse. Buildings that have been adapted from their previously industrial uses were everywhere. One particularly amazing example was the Reading Terminal Market and the main lobby area of the convention center. It was exciting to see the structure and architecture of the old train terminal with a lively market interior.”

Starr, a long-time resident of Philadelphia, provided the students an insider’s view of urban life in Philadelphia. Before his current role with the PEC, Starr worked for City Hall and the Foundation for Architecture; has written on urban design issues for the Philadelphia Inquirer; and was a former Spruce Hill Community Association president. Franz presented a historical perspective of the city during the trip enabling the students to fully immerse themselves in the historic city.

Seeing the concepts and theories the students learned in class in action made the trip an impactful experience. Kevin Chung (B.S. URS ’11) commented, “the OURS Philadelphia trip opened the door to planning opportunities in a city where I did not expect to pursue a future career. Many planning students often head to New York City or to Washington to pursue their planning goals, but Philadelphia has an abundant amount of opportunities that would provide a great start in the real world.”

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