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With the goal of transforming historic Dilworth Park (Philadelphia City Hall) into a focal point for the city's thriving downtown, the Center City District commissioned an artwork inspired by the site’s historic associations with transportation. The site served as the city's Centre Square Water Works in the 1800s, and in the next century was expanded with land from the Pennsylvania Railroad, which used steam-powered trains.

The art will be embedded in the new plaza's 11,600-square foot fountain and will trace above ground in real time the paths of the three subway lines below. Described by the artist as "a living X-ray of the city's circulatory system,” the work creates moving 4-foot-tall curtains of mist, which glow at night when illuminated by multiple layers of colored light. The artwork aims to physically and psychologically transform the way people view they city's central square and enter its public transit system. The integration of the art was made possible through collaboration with the site's outstanding design team.

Echelman wanted to focus on the city's industrial history, which she felt was not as widely known as its Federalist history, yet worthy of attention. Her larger goal was to generate a sense of place and create a communal urban experience. The ground-breaking ceremony occurred on January 30, 2012 and is set for completion in 2019.


Materials and Size

Atomized water particles and colored lighting
Installation Dimensions: 60 ft. length x 230 ft. width x 5 ft. height


Artist: Janet Echelman
Studio Echelman Team: Melissa Henry, Daniel Zeese, Cameron Chateauneuf, Drew Raines, Melanie Rose Peterson, Rachel Kaede Newsom, Becky Borlan, Daniel Lear
The Olin Studio: Susan Weiler, Richard Roark, Ben Monette, Greg Burrell, Kasey Toomey
CMS Collaborative: Nadine Nemec, Chris Cook, Roy Kaplan
ARUP Lighting: Brain Stacy
Urban Engineers: Andrew Scott
Kieran Timberlake: Steve Kieran, Marilia Rodrigues
Center City District: Paul Levy
Daniel J. Keating Company: G.C.
River Mechanical: Plumbing for fountain
Images: Courtesy The Olin Studio and Studio Echelman


Dilworth Plaza, Philadelphia City Hall, Philadelphia, PA, USA

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