Better Blocks Philly

The complete streets demonstration movement comes to Philadelphia.

better blocks, complete streets, street design, traffic calming, urban design, philadelphia


Danielle Capozzi


David Witham


Brittany Coyle

What began as a grass roots vision has manifested into a design demonstration project unprecedented in the City of Philadelphia. The national Better Blocks movement inspired the South of South Neighborhood Association to launch its very own living/functioning exhibit of “Complete Street” concepts in Southwest Center City as part of the 2011 DesignPhiladelphia week. Branded as the Better Blocks Philly project, this effort engaged WRT as the lead planning and design coordinator for creating the temporary installation of innovative traffic-calming measures.

The WRT team of volunteers assessed the existing conditions of the 1700 blocks of Christian, Webster, and Catharine Streets and came up with a concept that addressed the immediate neighbors’ concerns. Traffic calming, neighborhood beautification, and civic access are the overarching themes in the design, which includes features such as bump-outs, mid-block crossings, chicanes, parklets, and pop-up shops.

The Better Blocks Philly project has attracted citywide attention and received publicity praise for its community-driven goals to foster a more pleasant and safe pedestrian environment. This undertaking has created a platform for designers, city officials, residents, and artists to witness the effectiveness of innovative street design and economic development strategies and spark a conversation around common goals to improve the City via more permanent street design measures.