Special Event

The West Philly Waterfront: Conceiving Philadelphia's Next Signature Public Space

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Thursday, June 20, 2024

5:30 PM - 7:00 PM


Center for DesignPhiladelphia - 1218 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA


Hear from University City District's Nate Hommel about the four-year process from conception to the announcement for the West Philly Waterfront, UCD's bold project aimed at enhancing access to the Schuylkill River near 30th Street Station. In this talk, Hommel and the design team will detail the design process.


Previous DAG Special Events

Archived | 2024-05-09

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

Archived | 2023-10-25

One on One with David Oh

Archived | 2023-10-20

One on One with Cherelle Parker


Nate Hommel

Nate, the Director of Planning and Design at University City District (UCD) since 2015, brings dedicated enthusiasm and urban design expertise to enhance the quality of life in Philadelphia's University City. His impactful leadership includes pioneering progressive placemaking and tactical urbanism strategies, notably transforming the Trolley Portal Gardens into a vibrant public space. Spearheading initiatives like Green City Works, UCD's landscape social enterprise, Nate continues to lead innovative public space projects. Co-founding Open Streets PHL before the pandemic, and since 2020, he has advocated for community engagement and activating the public realm. He successfully guided outdoor dining initiatives during the pandemic to focus on the public realm, turning parklet rules and regs into streeteries. Nate's global influence as a speaker underscores his commitment to inclusive urban environments, featured in publications like The Washington Post.

Ben Bryant

Ben is a planner and urban designer interested in how neighborhoods, cities, and regions can incentivize and best manage processes of revitalization and reinvention. As a city planner, Ben has led projects in cities, first-ring suburbs, and walkable downtowns with a focus on land use, transportation, economic development, and public outreach. Ben’s experience also includes a rich portfolio of tactical urbanism projects that seek to re-activate dormant civic spaces through creative interventions that capture the public imagination. Ben is a two-time winner of the Knight Cities Challenge and creator of the Little Music Studio and the Pop-Up Pool Project, the latter of which was adopted as an official initiative of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation as Swim Philly. Ben also helped advise NYC Parks on the creation of their Cool Pools initiative. Since 2016, Ben has led research assessing the social impacts of public space investments for Reimagining the Civic Commons, a national public space initiative with 12 participating cities around the country. Ben is on the boards of the Passyunk Square Civic Association and the Edmund N. Bacon Urban Design Awards Student Competition. 

Chris Streb

Chris is the Learning and Innovation Leader of Biohabitats. He is an ecological engineer with more than 25 years of experience in restoration and regenerative design.  Combining engineering and ecological design through a biomimicry lens, he approaches every project as an opportunity to create and restore functional ecosystems that sustain life.  Recognizing that best intentions in design and implementation are not verification of outcomes, Mr. Streb is charged with developing methods for monitoring and evaluating projects to determine whether ecological goals are being realized.  Over the past decade, he has designed and developed ecological interventions to restore functional habitat along urban waterfronts, including floating wetlands in Washington D.C, green bulkheads in the Cuyahoga River and living shorelines in New York City.  Chris is leading many of Biohabitats’ coastal habitat restorations, including the expansive Middle Branch Resiliency Initiative, an effort that includes nature-based solutions and beneficial reuse of dredge to protect south Baltimore from the worst effects of storm surge and sea level rise.  

Ryan Bouma

Mr. Bouma leads the AECOM Urbanism + Planning practice in the eastern US and guides public realm design and urban transformation efforts around the globe. His multi-disciplinary resiliency waterfront work ranges from a riverfront park system design in Ningbo, China, to adaptation planning along Boston Harbor, to imagining the high-performance green infrastructure of The Yards Redevelopment in Washington’s Capitol Riverfront, recently ranked one of the “12 coolest neighborhoods on the planet” by Forbes Magazine.  These projects each seek to establish a reinforcing relationship between community, history, ecology, economy and equity.

Mr. Bouma holds a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from West Virginia University and a Master of Design Studies in Urbanism, Landscape and Ecology form the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. 

Doug Robbins

Doug is the Managing Principal of the Buildings and Places group for the Philadelphia Region. In his role, Doug is responsible for driving vision and growth for AECOM’s architecture, planning, and vertical engineering services in the Philadelphia Region. With degrees in both architecture and city planning, Doug looks for creative design solutions within complex infrastructure projects. Doug has over 15 years of experience incorporating context sensitive and multi-modal solutions into a wide range of projects and environments in Greater Philadelphia.

Ignacio Bunster-Ossa

Ignacio F. Bunster-Ossa is a landscape architect with long-standing experience in the design of sustainable and resilient urban places. Among noted works are the Master Plan for the Parklands of Floyd’s Fork, in Louisville, KY; the Georgetown Waterfront Park in Washington, D.C.; and the SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus and Hoover-Mason Trestle in Bethlehem, PA. Ignacio is a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, an Advisory Board Member of the McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology at the University of Pennsylvania, and member of the Leadership Council of the College of Design at the North Carolina State University. Ignacio holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Miami (FL), a Master of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Loeb Fellowship in Environmental Studies from Harvard University, where he is a lecturer.  Ignacio is co-author of Green Infrastructure: a Landscape Approach, and of Reconsidering Ian McHarg: the Future of Urban Ecology (Planners Press), author Of Limbs, Leaves, and Hope: A Portrait of Philadelphia’s Urban Forest in Times of a Pandemic (ORO Editions), and author ALFIE: Earth’s Last Hope, an eco-science fiction novel (Inspiration Pointe Press), https://ignaciobunster-ossa.com/.