I recently walked through Lenfest Plaza outside the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to see how people were using the space, and was pleased to see people hanging out on the low, curving wood benches, PAFA students commingling with tourists, and folks just passing through. At night, the plaza's lighting is really attractive, showing off the Furness building particularly well, replacing yawning darkness with a bit of life.
As previously reported
by JoAnn Greco on PlanPhilly, Lenfest Plaza was created by closing off part of Cherry Street running between two of PAFA's buildings. The result is an inviting, small but comfortable public space that succeeds in feeling intimate, due to the narrow width of Cherry Street, without being claustrophobic.
The new plaza opened in October with much fanfare, marked by the official lighting of Claes Oldenburg's Paint Torch
To me, the Paint Torch
the least compelling of Oldenburg's four Philadelphia sculptures (the Clothespin
at Centre Square, the Split Button
at Penn, and the Three Way Plug
at the Art Museum). It feels too Disney, oddly commercial, and lacking the everydayness that makes his other sculptures at least feel unusual because of their amplified scale. Turns out these kids find the Paint Torch
a bit playful too: