First look at CHOP’s proposed center for Broad and Morris

Neighbors of the proposed Children’s Hospital facility at Broad and Morris met last night in a room that won’t be around for much longer. The city Health Center 2 along with the adjacent Free Library branch and rec center are slated to be demolished in April 2014.

The destruction will make way for a shiny “gift from CHOP,” and the meeting was a CHOP-led unveiling of the model and sketches of the forthcoming health center/library/rec center/CHOP facility, said Douglas Carney, senior VP of CHOP facilities and meeting ring-leader.

The building will stand three stories tall, with floor-to-ceiling windows and pastel-stripe accents facing Broad. A playground sandwiched between Morris, Castle, and 15th will feature a basketball court, a lawn with tables and chairs, and possibly a spray fountain.

No, that's not the real name, just a placeholder.
No, that’s not the real name, just a placeholder.

As Carney unveiled the green sketch of the playground, which elicited an “ohhh nice,” from at least one of the attendees.

Though playground equipment is not yet in the sketch, “there is a pretty decent budget for [it],” Carney said. Specific equipment to be determined. Also TBD: some kind of safe bike storage, and whether there will be a section with a green roof.

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At night, there will be anti-glare security lights designed to minimize light pollution, and the eight-foot gates will be locked, assured Carney.

The “gift from CHOP to the city” has a budget of “over $30 million,” coming from CHOP and a yet-to-be-reveled donor, he said. “In case you are a contractor, I’m not going to tell you [how much it is],” he joked (kind of).

He would similarly not commit to exact dates, but if demolition does start in April, “structure up, skin on” will be standing about nine months later, with the whole thing done in November 2015. Carney promised to look into the idea of having the playground and green space open a little sooner.

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Not everyone at the meeting was awed by the design. “The Castle side looks ugly,” said one community member, referring to the brick-and-windows planned for the Castle-facing wall of the building.

“What makes it ugly?,” asks Carney, picking up the doll-house sized model and pointing to the face in question.

“It’s just – thbpbpthpt!” (That’s a raspberry – and how Calvin and Hobbes spelled it.)

As far as the library and health center go, Carney said some of the services would be moved to a temporary location, but he didn’t provide details.

CHOP will make updates available at: They welcome feedback at

– Shannon Palus, @shanpalus


22 thoughts on “First look at CHOP’s proposed center for Broad and Morris

  • October 29, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Nice piece. But Carney’s “joke” was how much over the $30MM it was, not who the donor is.

  • October 29, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Any word on how operations at the current CHOP South Philly facility will be affected during construction? That’s a primary care facility and even the slightest closure is likely to be a major disruption to the child-having community.

    • October 30, 2013 at 10:00 am

      I believe that facility will stay open until this one opens, but I’m not 100 percent certain. It wouldn’t make sense to close it beforehand

      • October 30, 2013 at 10:41 am

        I can confirm that that’s correct, Albert.

  • October 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Looks like a cookie cutter row home with a 90’s face. Wish CHOP would have been more creative.

  • October 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    The construction is slated to last approx 18 months.

    I don’t think it will be a cheesy 90’s facade along Broad… it is designed to be reminiscent of their new family care facility in West Philly, which looks both current and absolutely gorgeous from the street.

  • October 30, 2013 at 8:11 am

    What happens to the rec. center and library. I don’t see them in any of the renderings.

    • October 30, 2013 at 9:55 am

      They are both going to be included in the new building. If I remember correctly, the library and rec center will share the first floor, with the rec center on the playground side. The health center will be on the second and the CHOP portion on the third.

      • October 30, 2013 at 10:46 am

        I think that’s correct, although my memory of which of the health center/CHOP clinic goes on the second and third floor is fuzzy, and it’s possible that it’s changed now that the plan is to step up the building to full height as it moves south from Morris which necessarily modified the square footage of each of the floors. Although there are absolutely no plans to expand on the “steps,” they did mention that they would be designed to withstand the load if future capacity was needed.

        There’s a shared lobby for the library, health center, and CHOP clinic on the northeast corner on Broad Street. The Rec Center, I believe, will be accessible through the playground.

  • October 30, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    The side *is* ugly. Nothing says cheap box like pink brick and cut-n-paste flush square windows. Why not show some awareness of the surroundings? How about brick-colored brick and vertically oriented windows (that are inset to show some substance).

    And instead of a blank wall at street level, something, anything so it doesn’t look like some kind of parking garage wall to get mugged up against.

    • October 31, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      I think you have valid points… when I heard the argument in the meeting I was a bit doubtful… but some architetural texture, maybe a colored brick, and some translucence on 1st floor would go a long way.

      The Castle Ave facade shouldn’t be an afterthought but a gateway into the playground and the neighborhood beyond.

  • October 30, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I find the massing to be a big disappointment for this prominent public site. There is no play on volume, scale or hierarchy, and the lack of anything significant at the broad & morris corner is a missed opportunity. It would have been nice to see something break the roof line (other than the massive screen wall hiding the rooftop equipment). If you have to ask the question “what makes it ugly” then you probably don’t embrace a think-outside-the-box spirit.

  • October 31, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I find the basketball court offensive. They first said it would be kept indoors so they can use it year around. An outdoor court is the worst thing for this neighborhood. No one that lives in the area likes the Basketball court. The people who use that bastketball court do not care about anything around it.

    Parking? Never enough parking. I would rather see 100 cars parked on the basketball court than to have 50 ballers make noise. The noise from the basketball court is enough to start a petition to stop this project and chain yourself to a tree.

    This is the time to stand up to the basketball court and all the rift it brings!

    • November 1, 2013 at 10:31 am

      They never said it would be indoors at any of the meetings.

      • November 1, 2013 at 10:59 am

        Yes they did in the first meeting at Methodist Hospital. Carney was talk about concepts and how the rec area is EMPTY in the summer noons and winters. He said he hoped that would be able to create something that can be used year round.

        This was something I CLEARLY remember as I hate this basketball court to death. They don’t care much for Castle ave clearly calling it Castle Street in all their drawings. Take a poll of homeowners who can see and hear this court in the area, and ask them if they like the basketball court.

        $10k says they would rather see it a dog park.

        Basketball courts bring rift raft to any area to and from the court.

        • November 1, 2013 at 12:51 pm

          I was there. They said they’d “consider it,” and I’m sure it’s not happening because it’d be fiscally insane. I’ll refrain from commenting on the rest of your argument, but pretending that mislabeling of Castle Avenue is indicative of anything more than an innocent mistake on a street that doesn’t follow Philadelphia’s naming patterns is, well, about as good an idea as spending money to put a basketball court inside.

  • November 1, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I dare CHOP to take a poll of homeowners who can see and hear this court in the area, and ask them if they like the basketball court.

    If they wanted feedback from the community then ask someone who signed a mortgage in the area about what they feel about the basketball court. Spending money on a basketball court rather than a dog park or anything else is insane.

    There is no peace with a basketball court for anyone. CHOP is not coming peacefully with a basketball court on Castle Blvd.

  • November 3, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Something is weird with the east side of the Playground Plan. The drawings appear to show perpendicular parking spaces on Broad Street(?!), but the model doesn’t. Is that correct? Or is the drawing not showing the entire block? Is it covered parking within the building with midblock entry and exit on Morris and Castle?

    Also, looking at the model, is the setback at Broad and Morris a pedestrian plaza or a car pickup/dropoff?

    Will the Septa headhouse be rebuilt?

    Now my critique: the building is not situated correctly. It should be at the north side of the block, not the east. That way there will be a full day of sun on the park spaces and the building HVAC could be more consistent and efficient. As it is proposed the park will be shadyshaded in the morning which is the best time of day for parents and children to be outside. Furthermore, a park entrance on Broad Street could be delightful.

    • November 3, 2013 at 9:32 am

      Further furthermore, with the park spaces running the full length of the south side of the block, we could close Castle Ave. to cars and make more park, plaza and pedestrian spaces adjacent to the playgrounds. Something like PAFA’s Lenfest Plaza or Madison Square and St. Alban’s in South of South.

      • November 4, 2013 at 3:49 pm

        The first floor contains a one-story parking garage on the building’s western edge, covered by the second and third stories. Entrance will be from Castle, exit on Morris.

        It’s a pedestrian plaza. There will be two (or three, I can’t remember) parking spaces on Broad Street devoted to pickup/dropoff.

        Septa Headhouse will not be re-built.

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