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Philly’s "Pops Up Garden" Pops Up at Venice Biennale

Friday May 25, 2012
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PHILADELPHIA, PA - The "PHS Pops Up Garden" created last year at 20th and Market Streets in Philadelphia has been chosen for inclusion in the official U.S. presentation at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale.

The Institute for Urban Design of New York City is organizing the U.S. representation at the Venice Biennale, which will be held from August 29 through November 25, 2012. The American exhibition, "Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good," will document projects initiated by architects and designers aimed at bringing positive change to the public realm.

"It’s a great honor to be included in the U.S. presentation in Venice," said PHS President Drew Becher. "This is an amazing testament to the talent and hard work of our designers and gardeners, who turned an empty lot in our neighborhood into a green, living space that will now inspire visitors to the Biennale from around the world."

The PHS Pops Up Garden is among 124 urban projects chosen from more than 450 submissions for the U.S. exhibition at the Venice Biennale. The Pops Up Garden, which was open from June through October 2011 on the Center City Philadelphia site, showcased the PHS City Harvest program, which creates green jobs and brings together a network of community gardens that raise fresh produce for more than 1,000 families in need each week during the growing season.

The Pops Up Garden transformed a longtime vacant lot into a temporary urban oasis with dozens of beds filled with organically grown vegetables and ornamental plants. The garden featured a repurposed exhibit created by Temple University Ambler for the Philadelphia International Flower Show, space for morning tai chi and yoga classes, and working beehives.

The Pops Up Garden transformed a longtime vacant lot into a temporary urban oasis with dozens of beds filled with organically grown vegetables and ornamental plants.

PHS staff, volunteers and partner organizations offered tours of the three-quarter-acre site, educational programs for children and adults, and special events, including a movie night and college block party. PHS also partnered with renowned Philadelphia restaurant chefs who used produce from the garden in signature dishes, with proceeds going back to City Harvest. The garden was funded by the William Penn Foundation and sponsored by Brandywine Realty Trust and Independence Blue Cross, the owners of the land.

The Pops Up Garden was also honored recently by the Pennsylvania/Delaware Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects with a Merit Award, recognizing the project’s innovative urban greening and overall landscape design excellence.

A new PHS Pop Up project will be designed and installed this summer at another location in Philadelphia.

In recent years, there has been a movement among designers around the world to solve problematic urban situations, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public. Provisional, improvisational, guerrilla, tactical, temporary, informal, participatory - there are some of the words that have been used to describe this growing body of work. The American presentation at the Venice Biennale, "Spontaneous Interventions," will frame an archive of compelling, actionable strategies, ranging from urban farms to temporary architecture to poster campaigns.

Each project will be displayed on its own banner, which will be part of a larger system of banners hanging from the ceiling. Each may be pulled down individually, triggering other movements in the space. The exhibition will also exist as an online archive.

The Venice Architecture Biennale is one of the most prestigious architecture exhibitions in the world. Established in 1980, the Architecture Biennale is held in alternating years with the Venice Art Biennale. For the exhibition held in 2010, 53 countries participated in the Biennale, which attracted 170,000 visitors.

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