Make Your Mark is a comprehensive, resident-driven effort to improve the quality of life for residents in the neighborhoods surrounding lower Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia. The communities in Lower Lancaster are nestled within the University City District which is the largest agglomeration of students in the City including Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. Our planning process provided a venue for neighborhood residents and stakeholders to take stock of the changes, successes, and challenges that have been encountered in the past decade and established a renewed vision for improving their community.
It is a community of many assets including a growing number of arts and cultural institutions and events but also beset by challenges of public safety, vacancy and...now...growing concern around housing affordability.
As a first step in gaining input from local residents, business owners and students, we worked with the plan’s sponsor the People’s Emergency Center to temporarily transform a vacant storefront church into an exhibit on Lower Lancaster and surrounding communities. Interactive maps and exercises filled the space to encourage participants to share their ideas and insights on Lancaster Avenue and their community. New “Make Your Mark” signage, an art installation on the upper floors and a liberal amount of chalkboard paint was used to draw attention to the building and encourage residents and students to drop in and share their thoughts.