In Center City Philadelphia, parking lots and building backsides made 7th Street cold and utilitarian in form and feel. Through its mission of community outreach, the new Dorrance H. Hamilton Public Media Commons at WHYY has enlivened the streetscape and introduced unparalleled access and opportunities in the digital media and educational programming to the public.
At night, the Public Media Commons glows like a beacon to the community. On its prominent west elevation on 7th Street, 144 white translucent resin LED display panels cover a 25-foot high by 68-foot long wall. The programmable white screens, which also function as a rain screen, work individually or collectively to project colorful, dynamic lighting displays that span the entire building facade and establish the Public Media Commons as the “Beacon of Learning” to the surrounding community. During the day, the striking translucent box brightens up 7th Street and attracts pedestrian traffic to the area.
Inside, the design updates WHYY’s existing Technology Center and connects the “Main Street,” a spacious walkway that organizes major public functions, to the Public Media Commons, which comprises many technology rich spaces.
A large picture window on 7th Street invites pedestrians to peer into the studio; speakers overhead complete the experience of being right in the studio. Together, the spaces within the Public Media Commons at WHYY create an effective and engaging learning environment that provides formal, informal, individual, and collaborative learning spaces. It enhances the functions found on its internal Main Street for community participants, strengthens the nonprofit organization’s mission, and enlivens a prominent cityscape in downtown Philadelphia.