Monthly Event

Reconnecting Communities Panel Discussion and Exhibit

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Thursday, April 13, 2023

6:00 PM - 8:30 PM


Missed it? Watch it HERE.


DAG's Nando Micale and Danielle Lake have put together a panel to discuss the upcoming planning process for capping the Vine Street Expressway, which has been dubbed the "Chinatown Stitch."  The panel includes John Chin from the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC), Chris Puchalsky from the City's Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS),  and Paul Levy from Center City District (CCD) and will be moderated by the Philadelphia City Planning Commissions’ Executive Director - Eleanor Sharpe.   As a recipient of a $1.8m planning grant from US Department of Transportation (US DOT), Philadelphia's “Chinatown Stitch” planning process will gather community input to reimagine the expressway. The panel will outline the upcoming process and discuss the aspirations of what a potential implementation grant could do for the Chinatown community and the City as a whole.


The Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program is the first-ever Federal program dedicated to reconnecting communities that were previously cut off from economic opportunities by transportation infrastructure. This US DOT funding supports planning grants and capital construction grants, as well as technical assistance, to restore community connectivity through the removal, retrofit, mitigation, or replacement of eligible transportation infrastructure facilities. “After more than three decades of harm and displacement caused by the Vine Street Expressway, the Reconnecting Communities grant is a beacon of hope for the Chinatown community,” said John Chin, Executive Director for PCDC. “The funding from this grant will provide concrete change for Chinatown’s built environment, allowing for businesses, residents and future generations of our marginalized community to flourish.”  This grant will leverage $2.2m in matching funds by the City, PennDOT, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and several private donors.


Following the panel discussion there will be a brief presentation and exhibition of graduate student work from the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design. The work is part of an Urban Design Capstone Studio in the Master of City and Regional Planning program led by Nando Micale and Danielle Lake. Building on the momentum of the Highway to Boulevards movement many cities have embraced, the studio will share their visions for the corridor from river to river and push the boundaries beyond that of the “Chinatown Stitch.” The exhibit will be on display at the Center for Architecture until further notice.


Missed it? Watch it HERE.


















































































































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Archived | 2023-02-02

Making Reparations: How can we come together to preserve history and ensure that every Philadelphian has a home?

Archived | 2023-01-18

Frank Furness: Seven Ideas about Architecture


Eleanor Sharpe

Eleanor Sharpe, AICP, LEED-AP, is the deputy director for planning and zoning. She oversees the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, the Historical Commission, the Art Commission, and the staff of the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Eleanor is also the executive director of the City Planning Commission. She leads a team that engages residents, businesses, and other stakeholders to plan the future of Philadelphia and its neighborhoods. She also works to implement Philadelphia2035 – the City’s Comprehensive Plan.

Eleanor also served as deputy executive director for the City Planning Commission. She has been the director of planning for the City of New Rochelle and served as associate director of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania.

Eleanor holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Howard University. She has a master’s in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania.

Christopher Puchalsky

Chris is the Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives at the City of Philadelphia's Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS).  His past  professional experience includes designing engines for the Ford Motor Company, working as a transportation consultant both in the United States and abroad, teaching and advising as an adjunct at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Waterloo, and serving the greater Philadelphia region as Director of Transportation Planning at Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC). He has Bachelor‘s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University, as well as a Ph.D. in Urban Transportation Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. 


Chris has sat on advisory panels for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), and National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), and he has produced numerous conference presentations and papers.

Paul R. Levy, President and CEO, Center City District

Paul is the founding chief executive of Philadelphia’s Center City District (CCD), serving in that capacity since January 1991. The CCD is a business improvement district with a $31 million annual operating budget, which supplements municipal services with programs for security, hospitality, cleaning, place marketing and planning, business retention and attraction for the central business district of Philadelphia ( The CCD has also financed and carried out $152 million in streetscape, lighting and façade improvements, including the transformation of four downtown parks that are now managed and programmed by the CCD. He serves on the board of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. He also teaches in
the graduate City Planning Department of the University of Pennsylvania and holds a Masters and Ph.D. from Columbia.

Danielle Lake

Danielle Lake, AIA is an architect, planner, and urban designer with more than a decade of experience ranging from multi-family, institutional, and cultural architecture projects to community redevelopment, mixed-income housing, and municipal planning efforts. At LRK, Danielle works on local and national projects ranging in scale from transit-oriented design and community planning to civic design and the public realm. A life-long commitment to service rooted in a military upbringing has been foundational to Danielle’s core as a designer where her continued personal and professional interests lie at the intersection of social impact and public space, especially where the built environment supports belonging, equity, and justice. Danielle holds a Masters Degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in Urban Design and a Bachelor of Architecture from NC State University. She serves as a Lecturer in the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design's Masters of City and Regional Planning Program teaching Planning and Urban Design Studios that have been focused on reconnecting communities through equitable design, reimagining highway infrastructure, affordable housing, and designing resilient waterfront districts in Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

Nando Micale

Nando has more than 30 years of experience in planning and designing for vital, sustainable districts and neighborhoods. His practice ranges from the city-wide scale of the project Omaha by Design, to district plans in the Philadelphia region and in cities as diverse as Atlanta, Birmingham, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Jersey City, Kansas City, Nashville, New Orleans, Oakland, Roanoke, Shanghai, and Seattle. Nando’s district projects include suburban smart growth strategies, transit-oriented development, brownfields redevelopment plans, green infrastructure planning, and urban infill projects. As one of the nation's leading designers of mixed-income communities, Nando has helped cities in 23 states with the planning, design, and implementation of new neighborhoods. Totaling nearly 12,000 new homes for low and moderate income families and seniors, he is currently working with cities to position their plans within the HUD's Choice Neighborhoods Program. As an Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania since 1996, Nando currently leads the urban design capstone studio in the Master of CIty Planning program.

John Chin

John Chin is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC), a non-profit organization, whose mission is to preserve, protect, and promote Chinatown as a viable, ethnic, residential and business community. 

His core value of “self-determination” for neighborhoods results from experiencing the decades of environmental injustice imposed upon Chinatown. He is passionate about equitable development for people of all income, race, ethnicity, self-identity, and ability. He achieves this through four core programs: neighborhood planning and advocacy; support services to achieve housing and economic security and benefits access; economic development and small business assistance; and neighborhood beautification and mixed-income housing development. Crane Community Center, which opened its doors in fall 2019, is a landmark success under his leadership. It is the recreation and cultural hub for Chinatown. 

John Chin serves on the board of numerous organizations including PHLDiversity and the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, as well as the PHLCVB. He chairs the Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and CHOP Cares Community Advisory Board and serves on the Mayor’s Commission on Aging, ADL Philadelphia, United Way GPSNJ and Philadelphia Children’s Alliance Boards. 

He previously served on the steering committee of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Asian American Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Construction Industry Diversity, and Mayor’s Office of Community and Empowerment Opportunity. He served on transition teams for Mayor Nutter and Mayor Kenney. John joined PCDC in 2000 and graduated from Drexel University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems and Business Administration.