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Creating a dynamic and impactful civic space on Philadelphia's iconic thoroughfare

Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza

landscape architecture, urban design, parks, plazas
Type
Plaza
Scale
0.25 Acres
Location
Philadelphia, PA

WRT worked with the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation to improve the experience of the plaza around Nathan Rapoport’s “Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs,” a space now known as the Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza. The redesigned plaza provides a contemplative space within the surrounding urban fabric, and re-introduces an integrated, inviting, and attractive destination on the iconic Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

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Ultimately, the plaza aims to create a space for contemplation and remembrance.  

The design composes six major design features to further strengthen symbolic themes. The “Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs” is integrated with the plaza design and surrounding streetscape, as both landmark and icon that reminds the community and visitors of the atrocities of the past. A tree grove represents the woodland forest that sheltered those who fought the Nazi regime to survive. The eternal flame is recessed in the Wall of Remembrance as a further reminder that we must never forget. Original train tracks from the railroad adjacent to the death camp of Treblinka are embedded in the plaza as part of the paving pattern design, bringing a minimal yet powerful message of such colossal cruelty.

Six panels with interpretive contents describe key events and reinforce the connection of the history of the Holocaust to the history of Philadelphia through individual liberties. Located in the center of the plaza, the Theresienstadt Tree tells the story of life and hope to future generations.

The plaza design welcomes residents and commuters, providing a space of both openness and enclosure. Nestled into the fabric of the city, the plaza is activated day and night with people moving through and within.

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