Special Event

The Welcoming District: How can new arrivals help shape Market East and Philadelphia?

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Thursday, May 9, 2024

5:30 PM - 7:00 PM


Center for DesignPhiladelphia - 1218 Arch Street


The east stretch of Philadelphia's Market Street was a busy mercantile corridor serving the city for over a century before post-war population decline set in. By 1950, new visions for Center City shifted from serving the city's local residents to serving the broader region. New developments like Penn Center, The Gallery, the Convention Center and the reimagined Fashion District all looked to outside attendance and economic energy to power their financial models. As cities adjust to post-pandemic trends – like work-from-home and online shopping – there is an opportunity to rethink the meaning of “highest and best use” for Market East.

Philadelphia's population growth has slowed after a strong two decades, but a bright spot is the city's continued increase in immigrants. Research shows that new arrivals build powerful neighborhood networks and open businesses at higher rates than others, making positive use of the city’s existing infrastructure. What if we treated this as an urban development opportunity unto itself? What would an economic development strategy for Market East look like if its starting point was to empower and uplift the community that is already here in addition to supporting newly arriving immigrants?  What if housing and entrepreneurship support for new arrivals became a dedicated initiative for Philadelphia?

This exhibition and panel explores these questions through work put forth by graduate architecture students at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design. The Fall 2023 Welcome to Philly! studio, led by Architect and Lecturer Brian Phillips, asked students to consider how the Fashion District could be retrofitted in whole or part as housing and entrepreneurship opportunities for new arrivals. With The Welcoming Center and the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation as partners, the studio sought to position a key block of Market East as a mixed-use space for gathering, business opportunity, and planting new roots – adding value for both existing residents and new arrivals alike.  


Light refreshments will be served.


The event is free to attend and we ask you to RSVP so that we can get an approximate head count. 


Previous DAG Special Events

Archived | 2023-10-25

One on One with David Oh

Archived | 2023-10-20

One on One with Cherelle Parker

Archived | 2023-03-14

BUILD Philly Mayoral Forum


Brian Phillips – Organizer/Curator

Lecturer in Architecture, Weitzman School of Design

Principal and Creative Director, ISA

Brian is Founder and Creative Director at ISA, a nationally recognized practice in the fields of urbanism, housing, and sustainability. Brian was a Pew Fellow in the Arts and named an Emerging Voice by the Architectural League of NY in 2015. The firm has won dozens of design citations including six AIA National Housing Awards and has been published widely. He is a Lecturer in the Architecture Department at the Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania where he has taught an urban housing studio for over a decade.

Elizabeth Jones – Panel Moderator, The Welcoming Center

Elizabeth is Director of Strategy & Impact at The Welcoming Center, a non-profit dedicated to promoting inclusive economic growth through immigrant integration. She lends her strategic skills to the role, which focuses on creative, data-driven solutions to providing newcomers with opportunities to use their assets and build community. A skilled facilitator, she works with teams on curriculum and program development, evaluation, and strategic planning. Elizabeth speaks English and French (intermediate) and has a BA in Geography from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, an MA in Geography from Temple University, and a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Speakers of Other Languages).

Anuj Gupta – Panelist, The Welcoming Center

Anuj now serves as President and CEO of The Welcoming Center, an organization he helped start with his graduate school research in 2003. Anuj is responsible for leading execution of the organization’s strategic plan focused on building pathways to upward economic mobility for Greater Philadelphia’s immigrant communities.

John Chin – Panelist, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp

John is the Executive Director of PCDC, where he oversees all projects and programs. He is a native of Chinatown, Philadelphia and attended Holy Redeemer School and Friends Select School. He serves on the Board of several nonprofit organizations including the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, Friends Select School, United Way, and PHL Diversity. He Chairs the CHOP Community Advisory Board and is a member of National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD). He is committed to the preservation and growth of Chinatown for new immigrants, as it was a gateway to success for his family.

Tayyib Smith - Panelist, Smith&Roller / The Growth Collective

Tayyib is the founding partner and chief strategist at The Growth Collective³, an innovative partnership committed to dismantling systemic barriers in communities of color. With a visionary mission, the collective seeks to provide essential resources and capital, fostering economic growth and prosperity in neighborhoods historically burdened by racism and divestment.

Studio participants - ARCH 601 - Weitzman School of Design

Yousef Almana, Sydney Cleveland-Datesman, Calotta De Bellis, Shea Fang, Ariel Koltun-Fromm, Hilary Li, Jeremy Pham, Fiona Rath, Chloe Richards, Holly Smithberger, Shuailing Yan, (Teaching Assistant: Jessica Wong)